Archive for August, 2011

postheadericon Introduction to Chinese Teas

My Mother Leeann really knew her teas and she gave me the appreciation for a great cup of Chinese tea. If you are only familiar
with teas that come in a bag, then you are missing out on a lot flavor and enjoyment. If you are not informed, shopping for Chinese teas can be intimidating and going to the Chinese Market to get it can be overwhelming. There are literally hundreds of different types to choose from.  This is a great introduction to the world of Chinese Teas that was shared with me by my friend Lisa Boalt Richardson, author of The World in Your Tea Cup. If you like this then you can read about more tea from Lisa at her website www.lisaknowstea.com and her blog www.lisaknowstea.blogspot.com.

“As the second most popular beverage in the world (water is the first), tea has China to thank for its fame.  Whether you like your tea hot or cold, white, green, oolong, black, or puerh—or all of them hot and cold as I do—you have China to thank for your drinking pleasure.

Here is a brief explanation of the tea to help you better understand the different types. It is important to note that all tea comes from the same plant, the Camellia sinensis.  It is the processing of the leaves that changes the leaves into a specific type of tea.

White Tea

Usually just plucked and dried, white tea is the least processed type of tea. Although white tea might contain only the bud of the tea leaf, it may also contain the full leaf. The flavor is delicate, light, and sweet. This type of tea comes mainly from China, but other countries have started to make it as the demand has increased.

Green Tea

To make green teas, the tea leaves are plucked and allowed to wither slightly.  They are then quickly processed. In China the leaves are fired in a wok to stop the oxidation. Other countries steam the leaves.  The flavor is vegetal and fresh.  China, Japan, and Korea are the most famous for making green teas, but other countries make this type as well.

 Oolong Tea

These teas can vary from lightly oxidized (more green) to more oxidized (more brown).  This is the most “fussy” tea to make and a tea master can really show his expertise with these teas.  The flavor range is diverse and can vary from a light and floral for the more green style to  mellow, sweet, and smooth for the darker styles.  These tea leaves typically lend themselves to more than one steeping. The most famous oolong teas come mainly from China and Taiwan.

Black Tea

Black tea is allowed to fully oxidize; thus, giving it its dark color.  This tea is sometimes referred in China as red tea. The flavor is well-rounded with a sweet finish.  Some have a smoky flavor to them as well.  This type of tea is grown and processed around
the world.

 

Puerh Tea

This tea has not been totally dried but is allowed to “ferment” slowly using natural methods which is known as sheng (raw) puerh or is speeded up through a processing method and is known as shou (ripe or cooked) puerh .  The naturally aged teas (sheng) can be quite pricey and are the only teas that get better with age. The flavors can vary from fresh and/or earthy to a more delicate and smooth flavor as the tea ages. At this time, puerh tea comes exclusively from China.”

Excerpted from The World in Your Teacup by Lisa Boalt Richardson © 2010 Harvest House Publishing.  Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

postheadericon Shu Mei

Shu Mei

Makes 18

4 medium dried black mushrooms
1/1/2 teaspoons salt, divided                                                                                                                                 10 ounces medium shrimp, peeled and deveined                                                                                             10 ounces skinless, boneless chicken breast                                                                                                           1/8 teaspoon white pepper                                                                                                                                      1/2 teaspoon sesame oil                                                                                                                                             1/2 egg white                                                                                                                                                               1 tablespoon cornstarch                                                                                                                                                   2 teaspoons vegetable oil                                                                                                                                           1 teaspoon finely chopped ginger                                                                                                                              2 tablespoons finely chopped carrot                                                                                                                             4 tablespoons finely chopped onion                                                                                                                         3 tablespoons light soy sauce                                                                                                                                         1/2 teaspoon sugar                                                                                                                                                                                                                         1 tablespoon chopped green onion with tops

18 shu mei wrappers

Soak the mushrooms in hot water for 15 to 20 minutes or until soft. Rinse them in cold water and drain. Squeeze out any excess water. Remove and discard the steams and cut the mushrooms into 1/4-inch pieces.

Pour two cups warm water in a bowl. Add one teaspoon salt and stir to dissolve. Place the shrimp in the salt water and swirl. leave the shrimp in the salt water for 5 minutes, then rinse with cold water, drain and pat dry with paper towels. Cut the shrimp into 1/4-inch diced pieces.

Trim the excess fat from the chicken and cut into 1/4-inch diced pieces. In a small bowl, make the marinade by mixing the pepper, sesame oil, egg white, cornstarch, vegetable oil, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, ginger, carrot and onion. Add the chicken, shrimp and mushrooms. Mix well and set aside.

To make the dipping sauce, mix the soy sauce, sugar, 1 tablespoon water and the chopped green onion in a small bowl.

Place one tablespoon of the chicken and shrimp mixture in the center of the a shu mei wrapper and bring the edges up around the filling, leaving the top open. Repeat with the remaining shu mei wrappers.

Place the dumplings in a single layer on a rack in a steam, cover and steam over boiling water for 12 minutes, adding boiling water if necessary.

postheadericon Food(ography) Segment: Claypot Chicken
with Shiitake Mushroom and Lap Cheong


Here’s my recent segment on Cooking Channel’s Food(ography) where my sister, Laura, and I make a traditional Claypot Chicken with Shiitake Mushroom and Lap Cheong dish! My mom used to make this for us on Sunday nights so we consider it the ultimate soul-satisfying Chinese comfort food. We had a blast filming it and thanks to Audrey and Stacy for my kitchen makeover.