You like tea, I like tea, let's drink tea and explore together.

I started this blog in 2009 as a way to help spur me to learn ever more about tea, a product I'd come to love dearly over the previous year.

Through this endeavor I've made friends, learned a whole lot about tea… it's history and the predominant cultures which grow it, been invited to the World Tea Expo, been on panels about tea blogging and travelled the United States sipping tea everywhere I go.

In 2012 I launched Teaity.com, a website devoted to helping other tea drinkers discover the joys of their own tea journeys and build their own new experiences while chronicling each step for themselves.

2015 World Tea Expo Foodie Tour

Each year at the World Tea Expo I have found a way to explore the local culinary scene. Whether it was in Las Vegas or it's in the Long Beach/Los Angeles areas there's been something special.

In 2014 I had Korean, Japanese, Russian, Cambodian, Mexican, Greek and Ethiopian. You can review last year's tour via my Yelp List.

 

By request of fellow expo attendees and bloggers I am sharing my tour list for the 2015 World Tea Expo from a culinary perspective and not guaranteeing the tea quality. As usual I will try to focus on mom and pop shops instead of chains as that is where my passion lies. While the area is full of Asian eateries with quality… I am going to try and pick from a fair spectrum of culinary interests. After the Expo, you can check this year's list for my reviews of where I went.

 

The following establishments are in alphabetical order, and this agenda does not have dates set. The list is not extensive, and -not- all places will be visited by me while at World Tea Expo 2015. I welcome all to join me for one or more meals.

 

The Choices

Each of these places attracted me for different reasons. Some are up in LA, others are in Long Beach, closer to the expo and where most everyone is staying.

Adobo Taco Grill

This place on the eastern side of Long Beach looks killer! I crave authentic Mexican as well as California's famous fish tacos. What's not to love here? To top it off, the place has maintained a 5 star rating across hundreds of reviews. Not a fluke.

Yelp Profile

Aji Peruvian Cuisine

I always like to discover new cultures through their cuisine. I believe we can learn things about how they are as a people based on how they subsist with food and beverage. I've had Peruvian before, but Aji looks something special and I am very excited to discover the heart of Peru from right in the heart of Long Beach.

Yelp Profile

Araya's Place

This Thai vegan restaurant up in LA caught my eye. I love spicy foods, Thai has that. I love exploring vegetarian and vegan dishes because there's something limiting about always being required to present a meat. And, frankly the reviews of their noodles are fantastic. And who doesn't LOVE good noodles?

Yelp Profile

Aroma di Roma

This little gelato cafe has one of the highest rated breakfasts in Long Beach. That's really all I needed to know.

Yelp Profile

Bacaro LA

I went looking for unique places where I could try a variety of things at a reasonable price. Plating had to be beautiful, reviews needed to be good and the menu had to have things that sounded and looked delicious. Here's Bacaro LA up in Los Angeles.

Yelp Profile

Carreras Cemitas

"A second Mexican place?" you ask! Well, we're in Southern California! Where else but Mexico will we find truly authentic Mexican food? And Carreras Cemitas has a high rating across significant reviews. I'm sold!

Yelp Profile

Genwa Korean BBQ

The Seoul of Los Angeles is Koreatown. No two bones about it. And Genwa is one of the most respected charcoal BBQ locations in Koreatown… which is truly saying something. Certainly a drive from the World Tea Expo down in Long Beach, but… WELL worth the drive!

Yelp Profile

Pier 76 Fish Grill

Pier 76 is a fairly rated seafood establishment with decent prices near the expo. Really… that's all I was looking for here, and I think this should turn out well.

Yelp Profile

Pizza Studio

"Pizza?" you ask incredulously… "I thought we were going on an adventure here!?!" Calm down friend! Pizza has its staples and its adventures. Just like the tea world does. Pizza Studio lets you build your own pizza pie, with unlimited toppings for a flat price. What could be cooler than building a bunch of different pizzas and sharing slices of each others' creations? Nowhere near the expo though, we'll be headed to LA for this one!

Yelp Profile

Open Sesame

Vegetarian friendly mediterranean deliciousness! I always like to have a go-to place for some tasty hummus, fresh baked pita and a well fired shish! Open Sesame is on the southern side of Long Beach, with high quality reviews and delicious looking food.

Yelp Profile

Spiced Apple Cider Chicken & Chun Mee Steamed Veggies

Spiced Apple Cider Chicken & Chun Mee Steamed Veggies

Serves 4

BOWL 1

  • 4 Chicken breasts (I used boneless breasts)
  • 4 cups Fresh apple cider

BOWL 2

DamnGoodPepper.com Blends

BOWL 3

  • Brussels sprouts (I used 10 total)
  • Baby carrots (I used 12 total)
  • 1 Tbsp butter/margarine
  • 1 cup Freshly brewed chun mee Chinese green tea (loose leaf preferred)
  • Freshly ground sea sale (to taste)

PREPARATION STEPS

  1. Allow contents of BOWL 1 to marinade for two to three hours in the fridge
  2. Place contents of BOWL 1 into a deep skillet/sauce-pan on med-low
  3. Add contents of BOWL 2 into the skillet/saucepan
  4. Place contents of BOWL 3 into a small or medium sized pot on med-low
While cooking the chicken should be 50-75% submerged in the apple cider. The cider itself will condense as the liquid boils off, but the flavor will continue to be absorbed by the chicken.
The chun mee Chinese tea gives a deeper vegetal texture that pulls out the sweetness of both the carrots and brussels sprouts. BE CAREFUL not to over-brew the chun mee as it’s a fairly temperamental Chinese green tea which easily becomes a acerbic and bitter which would not serve this meal well.
After about 15min on the stove, both the chicken and the veggies should be ready.
Strain the veggies so there’s no liquid pooling on the plate, and discard any leftover contents of spices and apple cider from the pan with the chicken.
Serve and enjoy!

Recipe: HOT Three Meat Lapsang Meatballs

HOT Three Meat Lapsang Meatballs

Makes a crap-ton of meatballs.

This recipe is based on several I found online, but with a completely awesome twist or two of my own. I've never made meatballs before, so I figured I'd give it a shot tonight.

 

BOWL 1

These three meats blend together and accentuate each other's flavors very well. It's preferred to use non-lean meats as they have difficulty remaining moist during and after cooking.

  • 1lb finely ground chuck
  • 1lb finely ground lamb
  • 1lb finely ground veal

Three meats and spices mixed together

BOWL 2

This selection of spices (and Lapsang Soughing) were ones I selected for both flavor and experience. The Lapsang adds a fire roasted touch to almost any dish and worked perfectly with this recipe. The fresh grated ginger is just a touch smoother and nicer on the palate than using the powdered dried stuff. The citrus peel I thought would add a nice undertone, and I think it worked really well.

I love it SPICY, so the DamGoodPepper blend I used came in very handy. Word to the wise… this pepper blend includes portions of Habanero, Ghost pepper and Scorpion pepper… some of the hottest peppers in the world. With just one tablespoon three pounds of meat was made spicy enough for most people (though I think I'll use more for MY next batch.) Feel free to use another spice blend, or less of the DamnGoodPepper blend to taste.

  • Fresh ground de-peeled ginger root
  • Fresh, finely grated citrus peel
  • ~3 Tbsp Crushed Lapsang Souchong leaves
  • 1 Tbsp Damn Good Pepper (Original Blend) (DamnGoodPepper.com)
  • Pink Himalayan Sea Salt (to taste)
  • 1 Tbsp Crushed black peppercorns
  • 1 Tbsp Paprika
BOWL 3

This combination seems a bit odd, but it actually works rather well. The milk and breadcrumbs combine to lock moisture into the meat keeping them moist even if you freeze most of them for later. Adding the garlic here, versus with the other spices in BOWL 2 allows the garlic to work its way into the breadcrumbs as well as the meat. YUM!

  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup Finely diced garlic
  • 1 cup fine bread crumbs
hot-three-meat-lapsang-meatballs4
PREPARATION STEPS
  1. Mix ingredients of bowl 1.
  2. Mix ingredients of bowl 2.
  3. Mix ingredients of bowl 3.
  4. Combine contents of bowls 1 & 2 until well blended.
  5. Combine contents of bowl 3 with blend from 1 & 2.
  6. Mould meatballs from blended mixture.
  7. Place meatballs in a large pan on medium heat, tending as needed until thoroughly cooked.
hot-three-meat-lapsang-meatballs6
Enjoy alone, with sauce or pasta.

The Dark Side of the Cup

The Dark Side of the Cup is a campaign on Kickstarter seeking funding for a mockumentary film celebrating tea and it's penchant for addicting those who consume it.

The film looks like an interesting project, and one I would love to see come to fruition.

There's not much time left for the campaign though, so definitely get crackin' if you'd like to help!

Some of the Kickstarter rewards are pretty humorous, like a limited edition teabag, or dunking a biscuit on your behalf (yes, the filmmakers are Brits).

Head on over and check out the Kickstarter Campaign.

Thou Shalt Clean Thy Zojirushi Water Boiler

When I acquired my first Zojirushi I read somewhere that it might occasionally need cleaning. By the time I received my second Zojirushi water boiler a couple years later, I read it again.

Here we are yet a couple years later and they’re in need of cleaning again. Somewhere along the line I realized I never once wrote anything about cleaning either of the Zojirushi CV-DSC/CV-DYC water boiler units I happen to have.

So, here we go. Something you should always know how to do, and basic maintenance I tend to perform every six to eight months depending on water hardness and ph level.

Zojirushi Citric Acid (before mixing)

Using Citric Acid

While some people online have claimed success using baking soda and vinegar, that combination has a propensite for leaving odd smells in the unit. I highly recommend sticking to citric acid.

While I happen to buy the official Zojirushi Citric Acid cleaning packets on Amazon… you’re not obligated to do either. I’ve seen people use other brands of citric acid, and I’ve heard of still others who buy the stuff very cheaply by the pound to save money longer-term. Still, at only about $8 USD for four packets at the time of writing this, It’s a good deal to help your Zojirushi Water Boiler live longer and boil stronger.

Zojirushi Citric Acid (pre-mixed)

I use a small plastic container to mix the citric acid with how water before pouring it into the Zoji unit, but others have no problem pouring the citric acid directly into their Zoji. For what it’s worth, Zojirushi officially suggests pre-mixing.

This Zojirushi Needing Cleaning

Cleaning your Zojirushi Unit

The water boiler unit shown above was actually the cleaner of the two I own (yikes.) The other had been in a corporate office for an extended period and shared with dozens of others who used it as frequently as I did.

It may be difficult to see at first, but there’s a lot of calcification at the bottom of this unit and a little on the sides. This is only 6mo between cleanings.

I’ve seen some boilers (Zojirushi and others) with all kinds of stuff floating around inside because they’d never been cleaned. If this is the case with your unit… it may be tempting to just toss it and buy a new one. DO NOT do that. It’ll generally take only two or three cleaning cycles to cleanse the worst offenders! So for less than $10 you can definitely get yours up and running without nasty floaties!

Filling the Zojirushi After Adding Citric Acid Pre-Mix

These units are fairly simple to clean. Most Zojirushi units within the past decade or so have a cleaning mode built in which reboils several times to make sure everything inside breaks up properly.

To clean the unit normally, just pour in the citric acid pre-mixed, add water to the max fill line in your unit and let it boil as you normally would. You can activate the built-in cleaning mode of your Zojirushi water boiler by holding down the reboil button until the temperature indicator looks like it kinda bugged out.

A Shiny Clean Zojirushi Water Boiler

Tidying Up

Once the boil cycle is completed, or the cleaning cycle returns the temperature indicator back to a normal numeric reading you can empty your Zojirushi water boiler.

It is important however that you run all the cleaned water through the normal spout and not dump it from the top of the unit like abucket. Using the dispense mode allows the citric acid remaining to clean the tubing which leads to the dispenser spout. This will lead to cleaner tasting brews.

Also, while Zojirushi doesn’t officially recommend it, I also suggest running an extra boil cycle with fresh water in your now-clean water boiler in order to ensure everything is flushed out. Once again, running the entire vacuum empty of water using the dispense mode on the unit.

My Dual Zoji Setup

Conclusion - Enjoy Fresh, Clean Water Again

Now that your Zojirushi water boiler unit is completely clean, you can use it as you normally would, boiling up you water for tea, fresh pressed coffee, oatmeal, hot cocoa and anything else you need variable temperature water for.

Have at it!