There was a time when, if somebody asked whether I'm a coffee or tea person, the answer would always have been a very firm and resounding 'coffee'. Over the past year or so things have slowly changed though. I can't quite put my finger on an exact time, but I've slowly moved to drinking more and more tea. I still have my bucket of coffee first thing in the morning, but I've noticed a change after lunchtime and later in the day. I had noticed my tendency to worry, fret and feel on edge throughout the day had increased and that I seemed to have problems drifting off to sleep in the evenings - which was not something I was familiar with. I was tired, yes, but my mind was racing and I felt restless at the same time. Clearly, something had to change. I wanted to regain a certain calmness and balance, feel more at ease in my everyday life and be able to read a book for more than three minutes without thinking that I had to do something else, something that might be deemed more productive.
So I started to drink more tea of the herbal variety: camomile from whole blossoms, mint from fresh leaves, teas with dried berries and even some flowering ones. When I went down with a nasty bug (it might have been the flu, I don't really know) earlier in the year, I drank hot lemon with freshly grated ginger and honey by the bucket in the faint hope that it might help. I think it did, at least to an extent. And so I slowly grew accustomed to switching from coffee to tea and I have noticed at least a small change in how I feel. I still fret and worry - I don't think anything will ever change that - but I sleep better and a large part of my restlessness seems to have settled into a bearable feeling of "I'll deal with it tomorrow".
Through coincidence or maybe fate, I have now discovered JING Tea. Actually, we discovered each other in a way: me on my quest to finding new and fragrant tea and them, well, they somehow found me. Wanting to try out some new flavours but also compare some familiar ones (rose, jasmine), we settled on a few varieties which would give me the full experience of what they have to offer. It was on a rainy Sunday afternoon then that I decided to settle for some tea tasting. I had baked some Chinese egg cakes to go with the tea. Since I didn't want any strong flavours from the baked goods to distract from the delicate flavours of the tea, these seemed perfect. Now, I won't even pretend to know enough about Chinese cooking or baking to have come up with these myself. The recipe is from China Sichuan Food and worked out perfectly first time around. So, I thought I'd share it with you for your tea.
Ingredients for around 12 mini cakes:
- 2 medium eggs
- 60g sponge flour
- 40g caster sugar
- 1 tsp olive oil
Here's how it's done:
- preheat the oven to 180 C around 350F.
- put the eggs and sugar into a large bowl and mix at medium speed for 7-10 minutes until light and fluffy. Beat for another couple of minutes on low speed to remove large bubbles
- pour the flour through a sieve into the mix and fold in with a spatula
- add the oil and fold in until all ingredients are well combined
- line your mini muffin tin with small paper muffin cases and pour in the batter
- bake on the middle rack for 15 - 20 minutes until golden
- leave to cool before serving with your tea
Now back to the tea and I'm going to first stay with probably the best green tea I've ever tried, the Hui Ming Spring. As I mentioned, I'm not (yet) a connoisseur when it comes to tea, but I've tried green tea before and wasn't impressed. This might have been down to the quality of the tea I've previously bought, I can't be sure, but some of them have literally made me feel slightly nauseous. What I am sure about though is this one. It was so smooth, delicate and fragrant, I was seriously blown away because it simply wasn't what I had expected. You can read more about this wonderful tea here. I found out that it needs to be infused in water at a temperature of 70C for the best result and it clearly worked. Finally a green tea I can honestly say I love.
The other one was Jasmine Silver Needle, which I had chosen purely on the basis that I love jasmine. I actually infused this one twice (not wanting to waste any of the flavour) and it was wonderful both times. Silver Needle is China's finest white tea with the downy buds being picked and sun dried in April in the mountains of China's Fujian Province. After harvesting summer's most fragrant jasmine, the tea is laid beneath a bed of the fresh flowers for seven consecutive nights in August, marrying the sweet white tea with fresh, fragrant jasmine aroma. I can't deny that all this sounds beautiful and romantic to me and the result is a tea full of fragrant and floral flavour and perfect for relaxing and disappearing into some daydreams. If only for a little while. You can find out more about these teas at JING Tea where you'll also find beautiful tea sets and accessories for the perfect experience.