Gong Fu Chinese Tea Tasting 2 part

Welcome to part 2 of the special Gongfu tea Chinese Tea Tasting 2 ceremony I hosted for a few friends.

It was the perfect way to enjoy the 5 tea samples I received from Teavivre. Make sure to check Gong Fu Chinese Tea Tasting 2 part 1 to learn more about all the teas we tried and about the Gong Fu tea way!

I thought I would start of this post with a silly shot…perhaps I will regret it lol. But this my readers is what happens when you drink too much good tea and introduce a Tibetan Singing Bowl to the mix. I recently took a Tibetan Singing Bowl workshop and basically ran out to buy one that following week. This is us being silly with the said bowl, left to right top, and then bottom: Sandra, Melanie, Evelyne, Michele and (discreet) Rebecca.

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Gong Fu Chinese Tea Tasting part 1

I had an incredible eye opening experience. And I have to admit I never thought I would say this following a Chinese Tea Tasting, but I was left in awe after trying 5 very high grade tea samples from Teavivre. A high quality tea is so much more refined, pure and crisp. An excellent tea is like enjoying a top vintage wine. I will never be able to look at the boxed stuff or tea chain stores the same way again.

Since this tea tasting was a rather unique opportunity, I decided to host my bastardized version of a Gongfu tea ceremony with the tools I had and a few friends. You can read more about the real traditional Gong Fu ceremony here but I will give you a quick resume here as well.

teavivre tea leaves

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Great book gift ideas

Still looking for a few great gift ideas for the chef or foodie in your life? I have a few excellent suggestions for you today. This is a very varied mix of books touching on recipes, travel, health and treasures to be found in the pantry.

I have been enjoying every moment spent leafing through these books, testing their theories, trying out recipe and planning a few future seasoning purchases. I am including the main description of the books and a “my-2-cents” paragraph for each. Enjoy!

Yunnan_Cookbook

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Slow Cooker Mu Shu for Two

How many old-school appliances do you have in your kitchen that you use still? I have a handheld mixer, my grandmother’s standing mixer, also her potato masher. Although not an antique, I also enjoy my slow cooker, also called a crock pot. It took a while for me to love it though because the recipes I knew were the ones I grew up with and the results were never really modern.

So now I am always on the lookout for good new slow cooker recipes. And I found plenty in the Easy Everyday Slow Cooker Recipes cookbook I received for review. I was surprised to find fun and international recipes to and chose to try out the Mu Shu for Two.

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Dim Sum Staples: Let’s Make Shumai 燒賣 and Law Bok Gow 蘿蔔糕

Dim Sum is one of the best ways to enjoy brunch with friends. just choose a whole bunch of dishes to share for the table and dig in with chopsticks! Two of my favorite selections are Shumai and Law Bok Gow. Let’s make them at home!

Now let’s make one thing clear: my friends know if you come to eat at my place you are a willing and participating guinea pig! I have been waiting a long time to get a kick in the butt to try my hand at some Chinese Dim Sum recipes. The marriage here was perfect and I prepared Shumai | shāomài | 燒賣 (Pork and Shrimp Dumplings) and Law Bok Gow | Luóbo gāo | 蘿蔔糕 (Daikon Radish Cake). It’s Food ‘n Flix and Creative Cooking Crew time again, all wrapped up into one post! For Food ‘n Flix the chosen film was Kung Fu Panda 1 and/or 2; and for the Creative Cooking Crew challenge was “What’s for Breakfast?”.

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Banana Kiwi Smoothie with Rose Schizandra Kombucha

It seems like there is an influx of invitations to restaurant openings and product launches right now. It happens a lot with the arrival of spring. Most events I cannot be bothered with that much but there are exceptions. If something really grabs my attention and peaks my curiosity I will be there. And that is how I was introduced to a new product from Rise Kombucha by receiving an invitation for the launch of their two new flavors: Mint Chlorophyll and Rose Schizandra.

The curiosity word here is Kombucha. What the heck is it? The company calls it sparkling living tea. A more complete explanation would be that Kombucha is a sweetened tea that is fermented with a yeast, called Mother culture, thus creating effervescence.

kombucha 02

This is hardly a new product, there are claims that the history of this beverage goes back 2000 years in China or Japan. So it covers my ethnic food attraction plus it is a local, raw, organic, vegan and a fair trade product. The Rise Kombucha company is located in my city of Montreal. Actually they are located 3 blocks away from where I work. So before the official launch party I asked for a visit of their brewery. I could not take too many pics to reasons of corporate secrecy but you will still get a unique glance here.

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Blue Dragon

I was so looking forward to attending the Blue Dragon product launch but I had to cancel as I was sick. I asked if I could still get samples to try out, which they were happy to do. But imagine my surprise when I opened my apartment door in the morning to go to work, 2 days later, and this package is just lying there on my door step.I got home at 10pm the night before and I was now heading out at 8 am…when was this delivered?

I could not resit opening this suitcase box before heading out. It was the samples…I have to say I was very impressed. And opening the box was such a delight: 10 different samples of stir fry and cooking sauces. The Blue Dragon line does not end there: they also offer dipping sauces, noodles, wrappers, sesame oil, hoison and oyster sauce, fish sauce, and 2 types of coconut milk.

Blue Dragon is named after the Chinese symbol of good fortune. The company was created over thirty years ago when the founder realized there was hardly anything available in the shops that would help people create authentic Asian dishes at home at that time. Today Blue Dragon has become a great way to help you create delicious dishes from China, Thailand, Japan (UK site) and Vietnam. To bad not all the products are available in Canada, I guess I’ll have to go to there and look up cheap car hire from the uk to go shopping in London.

In the package I found the following flavors: Thai Red Curry Paste, Thai Green Curry Paste, Chinese Curry Cooking Sauce, Tomato & Sweet Chilli Cooking Sauce, Chow Mein Cooking Sauce, Sweet & Sour Cooking Sauce, Sweet & Sour Stir Fry Sauce, Wasabi Plum Stir Fry Sauce, Chilli Coconut Stir Fry Sauce, and Szechuan Pepper Stir Fry Sauce.

Obviously I have not gotten around to trying them all, I actually cooked 2 two meals so far only. I live alone and every sample gave me about 3 meals. All the sauces/stir fries mention they should be used within 3 to 5 days so opening everything to stick my finger in it was not option. Why a short self life you ask? Reading the ingredient’s lists of the Blue Dragon products is a pleasure because there are no preservatives at all! Just beautiful flavor packed spices, herbs, and sauces.

I really did love the ease of preparation for a full meal. All you have to do is cook your protein and/or veggies, add the sauce and cook a bit longer and then serve on a bed of rice or noodles. It’s a great way to use up all those veggies lying around in your fridge.

The stir fries suggest 350 gr of meat, chicken or seafood and 1 cups of veggies. I added more like 2-3 cups of veggies and I used chicken. The first one I wanted to try was the Chilli Coconut Stir Fry Sauce. I fell in love with it: so yummy, loved the coconut taste  and nice spiciness to it. I served it on a bed of Udon noodles. This one I will buy again and again.

Take a look at the ingredient’s list: Water, Coconut Milk (Coconut, Water), Glucose-Fructose Syrup, Lemongrass, Green Birdseye Chillies, Modified Maize Starch, Fish Sauce (Anchovy Extract, Salt, Sugar), Garlic Purée, Thai Basil, Ginger Purée, Kaffir Lime Leaves, Chilli Flakes, Galangal, Coriander, Lactic Acid, Lime Juice Concentrate, Citric Acid.

The cooking sauces ask for 3 meat, chicken, seafood portions. For this one I used a block of tofu and again 2-3 cups of veggies. I tried the Chinese Curry Cooking Sauce for this dish and I served the curry on a bed of Bamboo infused rice.

Ingredients listed are: Oil, Modified Maize Starch, Garlic Purée, Curry Powder (Coriander, Turmeric, Cumin, Salt, Garlic, Fenugreek, Chilli, Ginger, Fennel, Rice Flour), Onion Powder, Light Soy Sauce (contains Wheat and Soya), Chinese Five Spice, Spices, Salt, Citric Acid.

 

This one was a bit of disappointment unfortunately. The final taste was not packed with flavors and the only thing really coming though was the light spiciness. I also felt it needed salt…and I am not a salt kind a gal. Hopefully the other sauces pack a bit more punch, we shall see as I cook through them.

I feel like the theme in my kitchen will be Asian for a while. Normally I enjoy making my on sauce mixes and adding the amount of spices I like best but for someone with less experience or if you want a nice meal in a short amount of time I think Blue Dragon is definitely worth a try. Next I will try one of the Thai pastes for sure. The company seems to distribute out of the UK first, most of Europe and Canada. If you buy some let me know what you think.

The products were sent to me free of charge but my opinions are my own and are honest.