Yes, this is a tea blog. I don’t want anyone getting scared. But I’ve never been one for beverage bigotry. Being open minded about what can be done with tea opens up new realms of adventure. I was contacted by Howard Sobel (Ohio’s Bean Brain) of Crooked River Coffee out of Cleveland Ohio about pairing his coffee with tea. Tea and coffee together is an adventure I’ve been wanting to go on. Because I know the quality of his coffee is stellar, having had it before, I was even more jazzed by the idea. I’m going to share recipes I tried, benefits of drinking tea and coffee, and details from my chat with Howard on getting the best flavor out of your coffee.
Tea and Coffee Together
Tea and coffee blends aren’t new, they just aren’t super common. Now, tea is of course my best friend, but I‘ll hang with a good coffee sometimes. If you like both combining them is a new taste exploration.
There are benefits to imbibing both tea and coffee. There’s a great (and funny) article by Dave Brummert over at Evolv about the positive impact of chlorogenic acid in coffee and how the benefits in green tea are given a bump with coffee intake.
Another article by Heidi Hackler at the Chopra Center talks about the immunity and other boosts that come from both beverages.
Pairing the right coffee with the right tea is key. Howard sent me three blind samples (I think he was testing me on what I remember about his coffee. It was fun, though I wasn't spot on.)
Beans: small, dry, a medium cocoa brown
Taste: winey with a sweet start and citrusy finish
I thought it was: Tanzania Peaberry
It was really: Ethiopian
I had the right region but the wrong country. Howard said that my taste description was right on for coffees from that region of the world. I used this coffee in a coffee and green tea mix (see recipes below)
Beans: larger beans, dry, medium brown
Taste: fuller bodied, woody, smooth, more of a pleasantly bitter finish
I thought it was: South American. I had a fleeting thought it might be Sumatra, but dismissed it.
It was really: Sumatra!
I should have stuck with that fleeting first impression. This is very versatile coffee. I used it for the Down and Dirty, Dirty Chai and Customized Chai (recipe below)
Beans: mixed sizes, dark, oily
Taste: smooth, initial sweetness gives way to chicory, charred wood, leather, easy finish
I thought it was: a blend, but that’s all I got
It was really: ?? They forgot what they sent me, lol! So it’s the mystery coffee blend of a dark roast and an African coffee.
Here is what I played around with. With the Sumatra, I decided to try a variation on the famous ‘dirty chai’. Chai tea, with all of it’s warm spiciness and creamy deliciousness is a good fit for a coffee blend. A strong, full bodied black tea and spices stand up to the boldness of coffee without getting lost. I did two variations.
Down and Dirty, Dirty Chai
When all you have are basic chai tea bags and brewed coffee, you can still have a take on this more common tea and coffee blend. This is aimed at a 12-16 oz mug. (Does anyone actually drink a 6 oz. cup anymore?)
Customized Dirty Chai
make coffee by preferred method: espresso shot, french press, drip, cold brew….-( I like making a cold brew concentrate, then heating and adding to the chai. I enjoy cold brew coffee best. The lowered acidity means no stomach issues for me.)
Note: You can make the chai in one pot. Simmer spices in water. Then add milk and sweetener. Bring to simmer again, then turn off heat and steep tea in it. Strain into cup and add coffee.
Spices to try for a customized chai:
*These spices don’t do as well with long steeping times. They can become overpowering or change in flavor
Green Tea Coffee
This combo was trending a few years ago. This was a combination I thought could go either way. I mixed Sample A, the Ethiopian coffee, with a Ceylon sencha tea that had matcha in it. I thought the winey and citrusy notes of that coffee would pair well with the green tea, or be the best bet of the three.
It completely surprised me. I enjoyed the mix of the two. I brewed the coffee in a pour-over style and made the tea separately to honor the different water temperatures and brewing styles for each. After brewing, I mixed approximately three quarters green tea with one quarter coffee. The unique personalities of both the tea and the coffee came through the blend.
Then I made a green tea coffee latte:
Similar to the green tea coffee, this is a simple blend. I used a loose black puerh, steeping one teaspoon for 3 minutes. I brewed coffee Sample C, the dark mystery blend, in a pour over style.
I also liked this one mixed 50/50. This puerh has enough body and flavor to stand up to the bitterness of coffee without getting lost. I’d say the puerh even mellowed the coffee.
A Bit About Howard
and Crooked River Coffee
Crooked River roasts their coffees in-house. You can’t ask for fresher unless you pick the beans yourself beforehand (but leave this to the professionals and you can just enjoy the pristine beans.)
Old Fashioned B2C Personality
CRC sells wholesale of course, but also has retail clients they sell to via a farmer’s market and directly. They vend at their local farmer’s market because that is the place they get to engage with the consumer. Howard tries to take new customers from a lackluster experience to a great coffee experience. “We try to get into people’s palates and encourage them to experiment a lot. I like to be a teacher. That’s part of the joy of being in the business for 28 years.” - Howard
They have a website, but the way to order retail through Crooked River Coffee is to call the office at (440) 442-8330 and have a chat. They have a low retail minimum of 2 pounds of coffee per order.
Howard's Tips for the Best Coffee
Starting with fresh beans and grinding before brewing yields the best cup. Make sure the fineness of the grind fits the brewing method. Store beans in an airtight container away from sunlight. Don’t put them in the freezer.
Check out this coffee grind graphic from The National Coffee Association (Note: coarse is good for cold brew too):
If you don’t have a quality water filtration system at home, buy spring water. It’s a quick fix. Though it costs more it ensures you don’t have chlorine, lots of bacteria, scale, or sediment (which will damage your coffee maker).
Keep temperatures between 195 and 205 degrees to avoid scalding
A Note on Blooming: When coffee is fresh it gives off quite a bit of carbon dioxide when brewing. The gas pushes the water away from the coffee as it releases. If you pour a small amount of hot water over the grounds and let them sit for 20-30 seconds before brewing more flavor is released in the brewing process. Give it a try!
If you love quality coffee like you love quality tea check out Crooked River Coffee for some of the freshest, most delightful coffee you can get. Then go wild! Use herbs and other tisanes like chocolatey cacao husk and orange peel to enhance your creations. If you take a dive into this blending fun let us know on Facebook and Twitter what you create.
Thanks to Howard for supplying the coffee for this adventure. There was no other sponsorship or affiliate links in this post.
This is not a Yes that's makeup. I was inspired by a beautiful illustration of a Chinese dragon to turn myself into one for Tea Halloween style. My bandmate Philip and my friend Elexis also let me get creative with their lovely faces and you can see the results in the gallery below.
I love the creativity of Halloween time. To me every day is Halloween in that way, but it is great to have so many more people join in - the costumes (especially the creative mash ups), the decorations and the Halloween inspired tea settings! It is also the time for warming spices, the flavors of fall.
I did a simple scones and tea for my friend Elexis and I. I had some leftover pumpkin puree from another recipe and wanted a scone that used that. Seek and ye shall find upon the internet! I found this cool recipe from Sally's Baking Addiction. It has some great, specific baking tips in it like freezing and grating the butter which results in deliciously flaky scones (if you don't overwork the dough, easy does it).
I was feeling my inner child and gave these scones a Halloween twist with a coffin cookie cutter and some red icing for fun. Kind of reminded me of the first short story I ever wrote when I was nine. A vampire story of course. I still remember how hilarious it was acting it out in front of the class.
Have you enjoyed a Halloween Tea yet? Share your pictures with us on Facebook and Twitter. And show us your costumes so we can celebrate your creative spark!!!
This is not a sponsored post
I love tea gifts and when my friend Joanne went to London and brought me back some Mariage Frères Love Song Tea I was jazzed! Thanks Joanne! So this is a mix of a brief review and a cocktail suggestion.
First, a sip of history:
Founded in 1854 and named for a family with a long history of trading in various goods, Mariage Frères supplied tea and tea accessories to hotels and salons of the noble classes. The main shop has 650+ teas from 36 countries including rare varietals and their signature blends based in perfume tradition.
Love Song Black Tea
This tea embodies the romantic notions of Paris to me, with the flavors of roses and almonds in a black blend base. There are actual rose petals and pieces of almonds not just flavoring. There are no further details on the blend on the website, but I found it can be steeped to a deep strength or to a lighter brew by adjusting the amount of tea without losing balance. It is a quite broken leaf so the steep is quick. At 3 minutes, using my usual amount of tea it was quite strong.
The blend has a lovely balance between the almond and rose flavors – neither overwhelm the tea blend which tastes like it includes a bold Indian leaf. The sweetness of the blend is brought out in different ways when adding cream and/or sweetener of choice. I found I could drink this with or without milk if I brewed it light to average strength. The Love Song Tea line includes a green and a rooibos version also.
Tea & Champagne
We decided to say hello to the New Year with a bubbly glass of fun that includes tea of course. Mixing champagne (or sparkling wine) with other flavors is hardly new. If you have not yet paired the bubbly with tea you may want to try these combinations for any time you are feeling festive – birthdays, weddings, launching of a new project or just because life is worth celebrating.
A very simple, low effort way is pairing a pre-made kombucha of your choice with a champagne/prosecco/sparkling wine. I like the brut or dry versions for a less sweet result. If you put the kombucha in your flute first then pour the bubbly leaving some room at the top you can perfect your mix adding more kombucha or bubbles to taste.
Another option is to steep a strong tea of choice to mix with your bubbly. That is what I did with the Love Song black tea. General suggestion: Steep double the amount of tea you would usually use for a cup in half the water. Here is the lowdown:
I am looking forward to a new year of festive tea adventures to share with you and wish you all many reasons to celebrate in the coming year! Cheers all!
As the temperature gets colder I find myself reaching for more and more liquid comfort. Tea and hot chocolate isn’t a revolutionary concept but if you’ve never tried it I encourage you to indulge your decadent side. My friend had brought me some dark chocolate and half and half which set my craving aflame, and my play-with-my-food side, so here goes:
Now that first version came out like a decadent dark hot chocolate with an echo of tea flavor. So… I made a regular cup of fairly strong black tea and then mixed together equal parts of the straight tea and the chocolate/tea blend. Then I grabbed my friends and did a taste test. We all agreed that though both were delicious, for tea fabulousness the second option won out. Give both a try and see what you like.
1) Cocoa powder: Using cocoa powder and sugar instead of chocolate – this option is less smooth and luxurious but you have a means of increasing or decreasing the chocolatey-ness without adding fat/cocoa butter. Speaking of which, you could add butter to this method if you want that creamy feel.
2) Instant cocoa packets: Hey, use whatcha got. Sometimes you just have a craving for something chocolatey and maybe you’re a student on a budget or that is just what you have on hand. Why not try heating that up with milk/milk substitute of choice and blending it with a cup of tea in equal amounts.
3) Spicy!: You could do this up like a chocolate chai putting spices like a garam masala blend or just some cinnamon in with the tea when it is simmering. Really good.
4) White chocolate: mix it up with the paler version of this treat.
5) Flavored tea and add-ins: Earl Grey hot chocolate is a familiar option to many tea lovers but you could use a caramel tea, a rose tea, or put lavender or orange extract in the mix (yeah, like those chocolate orange holiday treats).
Go ahead! Play with your tea. We won’t tell. Enjoy!
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