Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Cooking with Tea - Gourmet Tea Recipes

It’s always fun to find new ways to use our favorite product – tea! This slideshow from Sunset.com features 10 great food recipes that feature tea as a primary ingredient to add flavor and fragrance to the dish.

Highlights include:
Smoked Duck utilizing the smoky, rich flavors of Lapsang Souchong instead of a traditional smoker

Darjeeling Dashi – make this traditional Japanese dashi (soup stock) with Darjeeling tea as a featured ingredient

Black Tea Sorbet – This recipe calls for using Black tea to add flavor to a fruit sorbet. Our Raspberry Black tea is great for a fruity dessert like this

Jasmine Chicken Soup with Green Tea Soba – Green tea is used in the making of the Soba for this soup. Our Gunpowder Green would be a great, gentle tea to use in this recipe

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

125 Years of SD Bell's in Belfast

Thanks to the good people over at Tea Magazine for writing a review of the S.D. Bell commemorative book, Creating A Stir. This book chronicles the 125-year history of S.D. Bell & Co., from its humble Belfast beginnings in 1887 through wars, rationing, good times and bad to the thriving business and cafe today!

Best International Tea helped S.D. Bell expand in 2010 when it began importing the company's premium tea, coffee and chocolate, making them available for the first time in North America.

Please check out the Tea Magazine review, written by Dan Bolton, by clicking this link.


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Is Your Morning Coffee the Best in Can Be?

I've always been lousy at making my own pot of coffee and wasn't sure how to improve - until now. Enter this handy ABC news interview with Major Cohen of Starbucks, who has more than 18 years of experience in the business.Cohen says for the ideal morning coffee, one does need to take it seriously and measure both coffee and water carefully.

Here are the five most common mistakes to avoid when making coffee and a bit on how to fix them. Check out the full article for more details on each of them.

1. Using unfiltered/tap water: A cup of coffee is 98% water - if your tap water tastes bad from the faucet, so will your coffee. Also consider temperature settings on your coffee maker if possible If coffee is not brewed at a high enough temperature it won't taste too good either.

2.Storing beans in the freezer: Coffee should be stored in a cool, dry place and definitely not exposed to the moisture in the freezer. Think about how the moisture condenses on the beans as you take them in and out of such an extreme cold environment.

3. Not using enough coffee per cup: Chances are you aren't using nearly enough coffee in your filter. The general rule should be two rounded tablespoons per six ounce cup of brewed coffee.If you like a weaker cup, brew it at full strength and dilute after with more hot water.

4. Using too much coffee: Conversely, using extra coffee isn't the solution to make a powerful cup or wake you up faster. While extra coffee does make a stronger cup it also makes a much more bitter an unbalanced cup. No good!

5. Using the wrong grind: Various brewing methods from the French press to espresso machine to your standard Mr. Coffee, all require different grinds. Follow the instructions on your device and grind your beans to the recommended texture.

And of course for the absolute best morning cup we recommend our SD Bell & Co. premium imported coffee! Try a bag today.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Health Benefits of Coffee vs. Tea

As purveyors of both fine tea and coffee, we see the merits in each of the beverages and partake in both regularly. We also love a good infographic so when we found this one detailing the relative benefits of coffee versus tea, we were pretty excited. This particular chart is great because it doesn't so much pit the two beverages against each other, but rather is extols the virtues and limited drawbacks of each. It offers fun facts, health benefits and caffeine content in various forms and brewing methods of both tea and coffee.
We think there's room for both drinks in a healthy diet, but if you currently have a health condition or are trying to ward one off, this chart also helps you see which of the two might be better for you.

For credit, we found the infographic here on Lifehacker. They grabbed it from Killer Infographics.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Coffee Terminology Trivia

Since Best International Tea has announced our line of premium coffees, I thought I'd keep with the coffee trend and share some "trivia" that will make for good conversation at your next dinner party or trip to the coffeehouse. Thanks to our friends at SD Bell for this great section of their book, "Creating a Stir,"  here's the backstor that you may not have known on some common terminology and brewing techniques:

Percolator: This describes a brewing method in which water is repeatedly boiled through a perforated chamber within a large pot, invented in 1865. Contrary to common misuse, it does not refer to the processes of filtering or plunging.

The Coffee Filter: In 1908, Melitta Bentz invented the coffee filter in Germany. She experimented using her son's school blotting paper to separate the coffee solids (grounds) from the liquid, ultimately inventing the method most of us use on a daily basis ... that is until the Keurig came around!

Cowboy Pot: This was the method of brewing for wild west cowboys in the late 1800s - Pour a good amount of coarsely ground coffee in a tin pot, fill with water and heat over the campfire until simmering.

Instant Coffee: The first instant coffee was invented by Japanese-American chemist Satori Kato in Chicago in 1901. It was later improved upon by English chemist George Constant Washington in 1906 using dried coffee left in his carafe. Instant coffee as we know it today was created in 1938 when American troops in Europe called for caffeine during World War II.

Cafe Americano: This is another coffee that has its origins in World War II. When American GI's were making their way through Italy, they found the traditional Italian straight espresso to be too strong. Baristas helped them out - and also teased them - by adding boiling water to their espresso and naming it an Americano.

Cafetiere: Often known as the plunger part of a French Press, which creates a popular cup of coffee. This method allows the coffee gronds to infuse in hot water before being separated by the plunging down of a gauze disk.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Best International Tea Headed to SCAA Show

With a name like Best International Tea - we're obviously a tea company! We're the exclusive North American importers of S.D. Bell & Co teas from Belfast, N. Ireland. But you may not know that we also import several of S.D. Bell's premium coffees.

Just as they carefully select and hand-blend their premium teas, the Bell family also roasts a wide variety of coffee. Coffee roasting takes place on a daily basis at S.D. Bell, usually using the old, traditional roaster from generations past. The aroma of freshly roasted beans has been known to awaken the inhabitants of their Knock neighborhood each morning.

We are formally introducing this part of our line at the Specialty Coffee Association's annual event, the SCAA Expo this April 11-14 in Boston. This is a major coffee event, celebrating its 25th anniversary, and we are thrilled to be a part of it. In addition to the many exhibitors, the expo features barista competitions, classes and more. There's still time to register here.

We will be at booth 695 and look forward to meeting our fellow exhibitors and attendees!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Coffee for Longevity

As the name suggests, Best International Tea specializes in S.D. Bell & Co premium teas. However, we also import coffee from our friends in Belfast so we were particularly interested in this article about the Greek Island of Ikaria, where a special method of coffee-brewing may be the secret to a long life.

One percent of the inhabitants of Ikaria live well into their 90's (compared with .01 percent for the rest of Europe) and remain healthy, lively and sharp.There were several reasons that pointed to why Ikarians live so long: lack of pollution, a diet heavy in fruits and vegetables, moderate consumption of wine, and, interestingly, coffee brewed by a method of boiling.

Coffee consumption has previously been linked with several health benefits including protection against diabetes, Parkinson's disease and liver disease so researchers from the University of Athens decided to see if the boiled coffee could be linked to Ikaraians' longevity.

It turns out the Ikarian boiled Green coffee is rich in polyphenols and antioxidants and contains less caffeine than your typical brew. The study measured the endothelial function of Ikarians over age 65, compared to the amount of coffee they consumed. The endothelium is the layer of cells that surround blood cells, protecting them from cardiovascular disease.

The study found that subjects who consumed a moderate amount of boiled Greek coffee had better endothelial function than those who drank coffee brewed by other methods.

There's no guarantees, but it's certainly a unique look at our friend the coffee bean. While S.D. Bell's lays no claim to improved health with its coffee, we do know it will perk up your mood and energy!