Rishi Tea: Earl Gray Lavender

If you love Joy The Baker as much as I do, you will know that she’s a big fan of Rishi Tea, and from Joy is where I first heard about Rishi Tea.  I keep meaning to purchase some teas from Rishi Tea’s website but just haven’t gotten around to it yet, so I was really exited when I heard that they were doing lots of giveaways of their Fair Trade tea in October to help support the Fair Trade Month campaign.  All you have to do is retweet their daily contest announcements on Twitter.  Visit Rishi Tea’s blog post about the event for more information.

I started retweeting their tweets about their contests each day at the beginning of October and on the 6th I won a tin of Fair Trade/Organic Earl Gray Lavender tea!  I received my tea this past Friday and quickly took some photos and made myself a cup of tea!

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Matcha; Not Only For Lattes

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll know that I’m really keen on matcha.  My love for green tea started in 1999 when I visited Australia to see my then-boyfriend (now husband!).  He took me to a lovely Japanese restaurant where he convinced me to try a bowl of green tea ice cream.  It tasted beautiful and from then, I was hooked!

In the past, I’ve made my own green tea ice cream, hot cocoa with matcha whipped cream, and various matcha cupcakes (one of which was the winner of December 2008’s Iron Cupcake: Earth challenge).  Just have a look at all my matcha recipes!

When I was contacted by Matcha Source and asked if I’d like to sample their matcha, there was no way I’d refuse!  I haven’t placed an order from Matcha Source before, but they totally won me over with the package they sent me.

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I had to photograph the box.  It’s very pretty!  But of course, what is most exciting is what is inside the box…

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I received a 10g sample of high quality bright green matcha powder, a Bodum milk frother, various matcha recipes, a discount on my first order, and a lovely handwritten and personalized card from Alissa; she even congratulated me on the birth of my baby!  It was really nice that the package was so personalized, this definitely made my day!

That very day, I made a warm, frothy matcha latte to test out their matcha.  There really is nothing like the smell and appearance of fresh, bright green matcha; I love opening new packages of matcha.

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The recipe for this is so simple, you could make your own with your eyes closed.

Hot Matcha Green Tea Latte
from Matcha Source

The trick to this classic style beverage is to make the tea first, then add the hot milk and foam.

  • Sift 1 tsp Gotcha Matcha into a cup.
  • Melt matcha by adding 2 oz hot water and stirring until matcha becomes a smooth paste.
  • Pour 6 oz steamed milk into your favorite matcha bowl or teacup.
  • Add matcha tea to the milk.
  • Scoop foamy milk on top.
  • Sprinkle with matcha dust or cocoa powder.

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And enjoy!

Matcha not only tastes great, but has various health benefits as well.  It is rich in antioxidants, naturally enhances your mood, promotes weight loss and is rich is nutrients, fiber and chlorophyll.  Since matcha is sugar-free, it’s a great choice for diabetics and those who are interested in reducing their sugar intake.

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So it’s great for afternoon tea.  Instead of coffee, try a hot matcha latte instead!

But wait, you’ll need a sweet snack to go with that matcha latte.  I’ve seen a few different ways to make matcha truffles, but I haven’t yet seen a matcha cake truffle.  Surely you’ve seen the cake truffles, sometimes known as cake balls, around the internet; Bakerella did a great job in making them famous!  I decided to do the same thing, but use matcha powder in the cake and frosting.

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The process of making these is exactly the same as you’ll find on Bakerella’s website.  I made my own vanilla cake and cream cheese frosting, but you can use a box cake mix and frosting if you wish; just sift about one tablespoon matcha to a vanilla cake mix, and optionally, sift 1-2 teaspoons matcha to vanilla or cream cheese frosting for a super matcha taste.  The amount of matcha you add to your cake and frosting is totally up to you – add more or less depending on your taste.

Just for reference, I used Billy’s vanilla vanilla cupcakes recipe, which is my favorite vanilla cupcake recipe (I sifted about one tablespoon – a little less – matcha into the dry ingredients), and Chokylit’s green tea cream cheese frosting recipe.  I added a bit of shortening to the chocolate as it was melting to make it smoother and easier to work with – the general rule is to add a level 1/2 teaspoon per one ounce of chocolate, or one tablespoon per six ounces of chocolate and melt them together.

I have written up the full recipe at the end of this post to make the matcha cake truffles using a box cake mix and a tub of frosting.

The truffles have an immense matcha taste, with just a hint of dark chocolate.

Keep the finished cake truffles stored in the refrigerator, otherwise they melt and turn gooey really quickly!  The truffles taste best after allowing them to completely set in the refrigerator; I thought they tasted better the next day.

In conclusion, if you haven’t yet tried matcha, give it a go!  Matcha Source is a great place to start for information on matcha and many different recipes to test out.  Just have a read over their Matcha Buyer’s Guide to find out which matcha is right for you.

Matcha Cake Truffles
makes 45-50

Ingredients
1 box white cake mix (plus ingredients called for on box)
1 16 oz. tub cream cheese frosting
2 tablespoons matcha powder, divided (see note)
1 12 oz. package dark chocolate chips
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening

Directions
Sift 1 tablespoon matcha powder into dry ingredients of cake mix, then prepare and bake the cake as directed on the box.

After cake has completely cooled, crumble into a large bowl by using your fingers or a food processor.

Sift 1 tablespoon matcha powder into frosting and stir thoroughly – you can do this in a separate bowl if you prefer, as it might be too difficult to stir in the tub! Pour frosting into crumbled cake and mix thoroughly.

Roll mixture into quarter-sized balls and lay on a cookie sheet. If the mixture is too soft, place into the refrigerator to firm up (30-60 minutes) before rolling into balls. Tip – keep your hands cold and slightly wet to keep the cake mixture from sticking to your hands.

Refrigerate the cake balls for several hours, or place them in the freezer to make them firm up faster. You’ll need them to be very firm to dip into the chocolate.

Melt chocolate chips with 2 tablespoons vegetable shortening over a double boiler, stirring often.

Dip each ball into the melted chocolate to completely coat; using a fork, remove the balls and place on a cookie sheet that is covered with wax paper. Place in refrigerator for several hours, or until chocolate is completely set.

Note: You can use as much or as little matcha powder as you like, however I find that you do need quite a bit for the matcha taste to be prominent.

Homemade Lemonade

Homemade lemonade is my all-time favorite summer drink.  When I made my favorite recipe and posted a photo of it on Flickr a few years ago, it quickly became one of my most popular photographs.  It’s nearing 10,000 views!

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I also made this lemonade for a baking party I hosted a year or so later; everyone loved it.

I can’t remember where I got the recipe from, but I think it’s definitely a winner!

Homemade Lemonade
Makes approximately 7 cups

Ingredients
1 1/3 cups sugar
Zest of 3 lemons
2 cups boiling water
4 cups cold water
1 1/3 cups lemon juice (approximately 6 lemons)
ice cubes

Method
Pour the sugar and the lemon zest into an empty pitcher. Pour the 2 cups boiling water onto the sugar and lemon zest and stir until sugar is dissolved. Pour in the 4 cups cool water, then pour in the lemon juice and stir.

Refrigerate until cold and serve with ice cubes.  I usually strain out the lemon zest before serving.

Enjoy!

Hot Cocoa With Matcha Whipped Cream

I’ve been wanting a good cup of hot cocoa with a big dollop of whipped cream for a while now.  So to remedy that, I came up with a variation of this delicious matcha cocoa recipe.

First, I made up half a batch of this hot cocoa mix recipe from Martha Stewart.

Second, I whipped up some matcha whipped cream (recipe courtesy of Boulder Tea):

Matcha Whipped Cream
View printable PDF recipe

5 ounces heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon matcha powder

In a large bowl beat heavy cream and sugar with an electric mixer with the whisk attachment until it is stiff. Then add the matcha and mix well.

Now, my matcha powder ended up mostly in little round balls in my whipped cream, even despite the fact that I sifted it into the whipped cream.  No matter though, it was just as tasty.

Homemade Afternoon Snack

The matcha whipped cream melted into a foamy layer on top of the hot cocoa.  It was pure perfection!

The recipe for the shortbread cookies in the above photo can be found here.