Nutty Milk Chocolate With Dragon Well

Truffle recipe - Nutty Milk Chocolate with Dragon well.

Lifestyle_Dark-Chocolate

Gorgeous Tea-Infused Chocolate Truffles created by Waitrose Food Illustrated writer Rachel de Thample exclusively for JING

Each time I stick my nose in a bag of Dragon Well tea, I think of chocolate. It must the nutty aromas you get from this particular tea, which is dried by pressing and cooking the individual, fresh tea leaves in a wok to preserve their flavour.

"I use Green & Black’s milk chocolate (which has a high cocoa content) with almond in this recipe as the nuts seem to accentuate the tea’s high notes. Also, I like to use a dot of salted butter in this recipe to cut through the richness of the chocolate.

Truffle Recipe

  • Break 200g milk chocolate with almonds (i.e. two Green & Black’s 100g bars of milk with almond) into a large glass bowl and add 30g salted, room temperature butter.
  • Heat 250ml double cream with 4 heaped tablespoons Dragon Well tea until simmering. Keep on a low heat for 3 minutes. Then allow to cream to cool and infuse with the tea for 10 minutes.
  • Place the glass bowl containing the chocolate and butter over a bain marie (or a sauce pan large enough to hold the bowl suspended over it. Fill pan with 2cm water and bring to a rolling simmer) and strain the cream (leaving the tea leaves behind) over the chocolate.
  • Stir the cream into the chocolate, which should be melting at this point from the heat of the bain marie. Allow to cool.
  • Then, place the bowl in the refrigerator and chill for 3 hours or overnight. Once set, scoop up the mixture in rounded teaspoonfuls and roll by hand to form balls.
  • Have a dish ready with 60g cocoa.
  • Roll the truffles in the cocoa to coat and serve immediately or chill and eat within three days.

Makes 15.

WILD AND LOW YIELD TEA TREES

What makes wild tea trees and the leaves they produce special?

Tea-Garden_Wild-Puerh_Yunnan_China

LOW YIELD TEA TREES

  • Our teas are grown at high altitude where the cold and changeable conditions stress the plants – only the strongest and healthiest plants survive and they yield small quantities of outstanding quality leaf.
  • Picking takes place early in spring before warm weather and rain increases the yield of these plants - warm, wet weather makes the trees grow produce high volumes of leaf without strong nutrient concentration, thus the strength of the tea’s character and taste is not so good. No other teas currently found in bags on the shelf in the UK are produced in this way.
  • Spring picking also ensures that the tea has strong and definitive character because the plants have matured and grown very slowly over winter and had time to absorb nutrients from the soil. High yield, low altitude, fast growing teas simply do not have time to absorb nutrients from the soil in high volumes.

WILD TEA TREES

These are especially low yield trees, which grown in naturally nutirent rich soil. They have years to mature and absorb the unique character of the soil and weather conditions in which they grow. Each leaf is packed with flavour and character. Just think of the difference in taste between a supermarket strawberry and one which has grown wild - it is the same with tea!

Milk in black tea?

Should you put milk in black tea? Is black tea without milk better for your heart than tea with milk?

"Why milk adds a sour note to our daily cuppa....." is an article in The Times Newspaper, January 9th,2007.

Finally the debate is over as to whether adding milk to black tea reduces the teas' health benefits.

"The study, published today in European Heart Journal, found that when black tea was drunk on its own, cardiovascular function improved. But certain proteins in milk appeared to nullify the effect of catechins, the particular flavinoids in tea."

"Taken black, tea aids blood flow" "With milk, it loses any benefits"

It is the national drink and most of us will get through 80,000 cups of it in our lifetimes, bolstered by the knowledge that — with its antioxidant qualities — tea is the one habit that also does us good.

Not so, say German researchers. Once you add milk, as most Britons do, any health benefits are lost.

Previous studies have shown that drinking green or black tea can be good for you as both types contain an abundance of antioxidant substances called flavonoids. These improve blood flow and help to prevent heart disease, and are also thought to protect against some cancers.

The study, published today in European Heart Journal, found that when black tea was drunk on its own, cardiovascular function improved. But certain proteins in milk appeared to nullify the effect of catechins, the particular flavinoids in tea.

Manufacturers have promoted the health properties of tea to Britons. It accounts for one third of Britain’s £1.3 billion hot drinks market.

In the study, 16 healthy post-menopausal women were given either 500ml of black tea, black tea with 10 per cent skimmed milk or, as a control, with extra boiled water.

They drank it on three occasions but refrained from drinking tea for four weeks before and after the study.

The drink itself was made from 5g of Darjeeling tea leaves brewed for three minutes.

In a healthy artery, blood vessels are able to relax if the blood flow increases — a process called flow-mediated dilation (FMD). The researchers measured FMD levels in the forearm before the tea was drunk and at several intervals afterwards.

They wrote: “Black tea significantly improved FMD in humans compared with water, whereas addition of milk completely blunted the effects of tea.”

The culprit in milk appears to have been a group of proteins called caseins, which interacted with the tea to decrease the concentration of catechins.

But June Davison, cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said: “Leaving milk out of your tea is far less likely to help protect your heart health than other measures, such as taking regular exercise, avoiding smoking and eating a healthy, balanced diet.”

David Rose

White Tea Buying Trip

Where does white tea come from?

Tea-Gardens_White-Tea_Fuding_China

I made my regular trip to Fujian Province in South Eastern China in April of 2006 to buy our white teasSilver Needle, White Peony and the teas which would form the base of our Jasmine Pearls and Hand Tied, Flowering Teas.

In a remote town in Fujian Province, South East China, tea has been produced for more than one thousand years. The local scenery is beautiful, set around a lake with mountains steeply reaching up into the sky with cascading waterfalls and vibrant green tea fields. The airis so fresh and pure, that when you breath it in, it seems to make sense that white tea is so associated with health. The local food is typically fish and seafood and an unusual but delicious sweet white tarot.

The special variety of tea tree, called Fuding Big White (Fuding Da Bai), flourishes in the cool, misty mountains. This type of tea has particularly large white buds (hence the name) which are picked to make sweet and delicate Silver Needle. The bud and two lower leaves are picked to make White Peony. You can see the silvery bud in the photo opposite. I am picking this tea (only a little) to make White Peony.

We got up around 6am to drive up to the tea fields which lay at almost 1000 meters and were completely bathed in moisture from clouds. The tea looked so young and vibrant.

Tea-Garden-White-Tea-Withering_China

After picking, the tea was laid out on bamboo trays to dry. As it was raining, the tea had to be dried indoors. There is not much more to making white tea than this. Pick, wither and dry. So simple, and such a clean fresh taste that expresses the purity and clarity of the mountains in which it grows.

Pesticides In Tea

Tea-Garden_Anxi-Tea-Market

Many people are concerned about pesticide levels in tea.

Different countries accept different levels of pesticide and chemical residues on tea imports. The UK now comes under the European Union's standards. All the teas we import are tested to ensure they meet these criteria which are extremely strict.

Some of the people I have spoken to are sadly under the impression the pesticide residues on tea that are sold in the UK are not strictly monitored. This is simply not true.

This photo shows the hustle and bustle of Anxi's famous Tieguanyin market. There is a great noise of people negotiating over sacks of tea, slurping as they taste tea before buying, as well as those chatting and socialising. Here many local families, farmers and traders are selling their tea.

Even though there are 1000's of different sellers in this enormously busy hall, none of them are offering tea which would pass EU standards. Their teas meet China standards but not ours. They would all contain banned pesticides or too high a level of approved pesticides. So for me, the visit to this market was just a spectacle rather than a buying trip.

I prefer it this way. I like to work directly with farmers so that I can ask them to make the tea I like it.

Take Mr Huang for instance. His entire farm is carefully monitored to ensure that pesticide use is kept to an absolute minimum. We also work with him to ensure that the Tieguanyin and Yellow Gold Oolong [LINK] he makes is perfect for our customers.

One of the reasons that China produces such exceptional teas is because of the demand for such teas from its domestic market. This is great - the small family traditions are kept intact because if they start making their tea any other way, it will not be up to scratch. Also, they are not dependant on large western companies - they have many clients and so can sustain their heritage and knowledge.

Tea-Garden_West-Lake

Many of China's most famous regions, Like the West Lake area in Hanzhou which produces the most prized Dragon Well (Long Jing) is almost entirely out of bounds for any company based in the Europe. The tea made in these areas destined for the most wealthy section of China's population. As it is not intended for export, the extra steps to ensure that pesticides and fertiliser meets EU standards are not in place. We have to look to other neighbouring areas where we can control how the tea is produced.

We send our teas for testing in Germany as there is not currently a laboratory based in the UK that regularly tests teas. In the lab, the tea samples in ground up and then tested for pesticide and other chemicals and heavy metals. Many tea traders feel that the water left in an infusion should be tested rather the leaves themselves as consumers do not eat the tea leaves. This way of testing makes the test extremely strict and in my opinion is a good thing.

I have had the most trouble in finding EU compliant teas in Taiwan. Taiwan exports a very small proportion of its yield of tea and so does not make the necessary steps to ensure its teas meet EU standards. This is a great shame as Taiwan produces some of the finest Oolong teas to be found. We are currently working with farmers to try to resolve this situation.

Many of our teas come back with no pesticide residues found - this happened this year with our Anji Bai Cha.

Blends can be good!

The finest blends are made from outstanding components, carefully and ingeniously matched to create a sensuous experience. When you taste blends of this kind, the flavour of each of the components will dance across your palette as a unified taste which elevates the individual flavours to something higher. The whole purpose behind creating a blend like this, is to make obvious the characters of the different teas it contains as they mingle and complement one another.

"Blending can also be very mercenary. Most blends available today are like this – the cheapest teas are blended cleverly to create a desired taste. The main purpose behind them is to offer a specific taste for a minimum cost. While this kind of blending revolutionised the tea industry in the Victorian era, it led to today’s low quality mass produced teas which offer no inkling of the outstanding teas that are available. It’s very sad that while tea is the second most consumed beverage on earth after water, most tea drinkers today know nothing of what’s actually available beyond their tea bag. I never had the intention to create any blends. For me the really outstanding teas were those available from small gardens and well managed estates which you could almost sense and feel in the experience of drinking the tea they produce. However, when I was asked again and again by some of the hotels and restaurants we supply for blends I felt I had to do something.

I was also swayed by the experience of drinking outstanding whisky blend like Jonnie Walker Black and the rare and outstanding Blue edition. These whisky blends manage to offer the essential characters of the main individual whisky’s they contain, as well as offering another dimension – that of the different characters being married and complementing one another. They are easy-drinking and fit for the connoisseur. They lack the singular purity of taste offered by a Single Malt but that is not what everyone wants.

I have made many blends which will be available on the website in coming months. But for now we offer just a few and I will discuss three here. I will write about the other blends as we add them to the site. I cannot give the full details of the components of the blends (they are a little bit secret!)

The first is the JING India Blend. This is a blend of Assam and Darjeeling, aimed at the person who likes a rich, strong, malty cup but with a difference. It should be no surprise that the main proportion of the blend is made up of a wonderfully rich, malty and tippy Assam. A smaller proportion of fragrant silver-tipped Darjeeling is added to elevate and contrast the full-bodied, heartiness of the Assam and give it some bite. What makes this blend so special (as well as the taste) is the quality of the raw materials. There has been no compromise on their quality – no concept of “It’s only a blend so we’ll use some ordinary tea…”

india-blend_loose-tea_blog

Our next blend is Moroccan Mint. Again, this is a simple blend of outstanding Gunpowder, which was specially made for Jing from the first green tea picked in spring of 2006. This in itself makes a huge difference – ordinary Gunpowder is so bitter, dark and earthy and has to be sweetened to be enjoyed. Then I took some really excellent peppermint chosen from many different grades. The two are blended in a proportion to give the rich, smooth sweetness of the green tea set against the fresh, cool bite of the peppermint.

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Our Rosebud Gong Fu was specially made to offer the ultimate Rose tea imaginable. We blended different grades of Keemun (including some of the highest grades), to give a light but clear, precise flavour. Then, instead of taking rose petals or even rose scent, both of which fail to deliver the perfect sweet-softness of real roses, I used whole rose buds. These offer the best flavour as well as the best appearance. We also offer a White Peony and Rose for those who want to have a low caffeine rose tea to drink in the evening.