Sunday, 10 August 2014

The Tea Diaries: Kettle Town Teas

My inaugural feature post in my Tea Diaries series has got to start with Kettle Town TeasThis brand of tea is owned by two very lovely people, Vincent and Lily, who I had the pleasure to meet and talk to at a youth social entrepreneurship event called fastBreak, a monthly event from the folks at VibeWire.

Kettle Town Teas bring tea to a whole new level; capturing the beautiful flavours and fragrance of flavoured teas, and having it paired with lovely desserts for a complete indulgent multi-sensory experience.
Having been “born from the quest to make a blend of chai which in turnbegan [their] fascination with flavours and aromas”, their chai blend is certainly one of my two favourite teas of theirs. In fact, I like it more than the T2 Chai blend, which I have been drinking for over a year now!

I had an exclusive chat with Lily from Kettle Town Teas, and afterwards, I’ll be sharing my reviews of some of the teas!
Tina: So when you did you guys start Kettle Town? How did you guys come up with this awesome concept of a tea and dessert pairing experience?

Lily: Kettle Town officially started in September 2013. We began doing research and collating ideas for our brand around June, testing recipes and doing some branding exercises. We're not really sure where the tea and dessert pairing started! But it was a collaboration between my love for baking and Vincent's love for tea. Our experiences and knowledge really complimented one another and after many long text messages and email exchanges, our idea became solid. 

Tina: What makes Kettle Town different to, say, a high tea experience, or other flavoured teas? 

Lily: The traditional way a high tea is enjoyed is classic and deserves a lot of respect. We ourselves still enjoy this experience very much. We believe that this idea can definitely be improved on with more of a personalised approach, where each dessert is enjoyed with a different tea. Tea degustation? Our flavoured teas are somewhat unique with combinations that are rarely seen. Some flavour profiles may sound strange to you but once you smell and taste, it just all makes sense! 
Tina: I'd love to know where we could find Kettle Town products around Sydney! Apart from ordering from your website, where can we find you? 

Lily: You can currently enjoy our teas at the Sweet Spot Patisserie in Randwick and purchase them at Salt Meats Cheese at the Grounds of Alexandria. They can also be found at the Workshop Makery in Darlinghurst, Handmade Store in Canberra, Gourmet Grocer Online, Butler and Bentley Online Grocer, Agrestic Grocer in Orange and Spoon & Fork in Croydon. 

Our list of stockists is growing every month with several new places to stock Kettle Town soon. Many of the more innovative and opened mind people in the food service and retail industry are seeing the unique approach to tea that Kettle Town has taken. 
Tina: What's your current favourite dessert and tea pairing? 

Lily: Ohhhh that's a hard one. We recently had our mind blown when we tasted a beautiful lamington served with our Zanzibari Chai. Very humble but the flavours work so beautifully. 

Tina: What are the three teas that you would recommend we try?

Lily: Even harder! Definitely our Zanzibari Chai, I've tasted a lot of chais in my lifetime and I can say that if you want a nice authentic chai, you really need some of this in your pantry. (not that I'm biased or anything) Blueberry Blossoms is always a favourite and quite unique. We have recently launched a new blend called Toasted Toffee which we almost sold out at Finders Keepers! 

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I’ve received a few samples in the mail, including: Zanibari Chai, Midnight Spice, Toasted Toffee, Mintilla, and Summer Rose.  I didn’t quite enjoy the Toasted Toffee one, perhaps I didn’t prepare it properly, but it wasn’t quite my cup of tea (pun intended :P), but I quite enjoyed the rest of them!
Zanibari Chai: Yes, this is definitely one of my two favourite Kettle Town tea flavours. 
Upon opening the tea packet, a warm and sweet and spicy mix of fragrances entice my senses – there’s that warm earthy almost wooden fragrance of the spices, plus a hint of citrus.  This chai tea has a very sweet and creamy taste from the coconut and there is a light hint of citrus as well, and the black tea is not strong and bitter and overpowering towards the other flavours within the tea blend.  The T2 Chai blend is much harsher in flavour than this one, this chai blend has quickly become my favourite!
And so I decided to make a soy chai latte, and adapted it from this recipe by One Ingredient Chef.
foodfortina’s Tip: don’t put the tea leaves in the milk and water mix, or you will end up burning the tea if you leave the tea leaves in for too long - only start brewing the tea when the milk and water come to boil!
And to make the most of the dessert and tea pairing experience, I paired this chai tea with my carrot cake recipe – some deep warmth to cut through the moist fruity sweetness.
Midnight Spice: Sweet nectar-like (sort of like peach) fragrance and a mild hint of citrus.  It does share some similar fragrances with Zanibari chai due to the similar spices used, but there is much spicier fragrance coming from the chai packet.  This is my other favourite tea blend, coming equal first with the Zanibari Chai!
I paired this beautiful tea with my lumberjack cake – I used Not Quite Nigella’s recipe here. Side note: this is actually a very good recipe, I highly recommend everyone to try this cake at least once – thank you to Lorraine@NQN so so so much for this recipe, I have baked this cake 3 times because of how much I love it!  And the coconut and maple syrup combination pair so well with the light citrus overtones of the tea!!
Summer Rose: This blend is light and sweet, the rose fragrance is actually not harsh and the tea is very light and balanced, and slightly muted.  It's not the harsh fragrance you would find in pot pourri and most other white rose teas.
Mintilla - Like I mentioned in my intro Tea Diaries post, I'm a big fan of mint tea, and I was really happy to have tried this tea.  Its sweet minty fragrance - the one you would expect when you eat a mint chocolate – is well complemented by the gentle vanilla tones, and the tea is not too harsh and sharp like a breath mint. 

Overall, the range of teas provide a relaxing, homely and indulgent experience - not too harsh, not too bland, there's a great depth with the flavour and fragrance combinations, so the teas are already good on their own.  

And just a few days ago, I visited The Sweet Spot Patisserie in Randwick, and indeed, Kettle Town dessert and tea pairing experiences are sold here!
I ordered myself a hot cuppa of New Paradise tea - hibiscus, orange, rosehip and caramel - floral and citrus with a mild creamy and sweet finish.

Kettle Town Teas will feature at the Sydney Tea Festival on the 17th August, so it is definitely worth the travel to Eveleigh to try the lovely innovative yet homely tea and dessert pairing culture that Lily and Vincent have started.


Disclaimer: foodfortina was given samples of teas courtesy of Kettle Town Teas.  However, all opinions are honest and my own.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Eastwood Hong Kong Street Food tour - a TASTE tour

Amongst the multitude of arcades and alleyways, parents and their children hustle and bustle along on their weekly grocery shopping hike.  They stop by for a small chive bun at Yummy Buns, or clutch onto a bag of freshly steamed chestnuts, the paper bag encapsulating that deep caramelised fragrance of the earthen nut at K & J Chinese Takeaway, on the corner of Progress Avenue.  Lunch would be from one of the many BBQ meat shops or from Sydney Best Dim Sim - the place to go if you want the whole Yum Cha menu range on takeaway, and countless fresh seasonal fruit and grocery stores line the streets of Eastwood. 
Grabbing some dessert from Sydney Best Dim Sim - glutinous rice balls filled with red bean paste, coated in sesame and deep fried.  
With big names including Taste of Shanghai, Sakae Restaurant and Bar, and some of Eastwood's favourites like AJ's Indian and Eastwood Garden Peking, the restaurant scape is indeed growing, but Eastwood's rich Hong Kong culture is ever-present.

A day in the life of Hong Kong local would indeed start with the morning tea banquet.  A Hong Kong style morning tea would be incomplete without a piece of fluffy deep fried French toast filled with peanut butter and condensed milk or coconut jam/kaya, and topped with melted butter and a generous serving of golden syrup drizzle

Hong Kong style French toast, once named one of the 50 most delicious foods in the world, takes its influence from Hong-Kong Cantonese and Portuguese cuisine, the fusion cuisine that characterises that of the city of Macau.  Indulgent, naughty, decadent - a true homage to the Macanese way of life.  Tastes like a fluffier and sweeter version of a cross between a Chinese cruller and a doughnut.  Available at Eastwood BBQ kitchen, serving pork and century egg congee, Borshcht soup, pandan leaf wrapped savoury rice cakes, and a whole lot more.
A morning tea banquet, with the obligatory serve of tea.
The next step would include a few peruses through these lively streets, with Asian grocery stores scattered throughout - there can never be too many places to get your quick fix of the Asian snack, those staple condiments, or even a pot sticker tutorial! 

Soon afterwards, it would be time to grab some lunch for the family, and roast pork and roast duck is always an easy go-to option. 
Housemade sausage, Chinese BBQ Pork and roast duck, and special spiced cuttlefish.
But for the family who seeks a more authentic lunch or dinner experience, they will head to Hong Kong Recipe for their array of savoury rice and noodle dishes, coupled with some Hong Kong Yuanyang tea-coffee.
Chewy sliced noodles, that get deliciously chewier the cooler they get.
Hong Kong Yuanyang tea-coffee
And so concludes a snapshot into a day of the life of an Eastwood local, exploring their rich Hong Kong culture and cuisine, courtesy of TASTE tours.

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So what are TASTE tours, exactly?  

They are an initiative of Australia's oldest charity, The Benevolent Society, and at TASTE, we are all about bridging divides, diminishing stereotypes of certain suburbs, particularly Sydney's western suburbs, supporting local businesses, and showcasing the authentic cultural experience that these suburbs have to offer.  We also have pop-up kitchens, cooking classes, and in-school cooking class programs as well.

TimeOut Sydney has a nice short write-up about us, and for tour dates, click here.  We have tours throughout Fairfield, Harris Park, Bonnyrigg, and more, and we aim to showcase the rich culture that each suburb brings to their locals. 


For more information on TASTE tours, visit our site here: www.tastetours.org.au 


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Eastwood Arcade
Shop 4, 183-185 Rowe Street Eastwood
9858 1636

Eastwood BBQ Kitchen
1/ 1 Trelawney St Eastwood
9858 1366

Wang Wang BBQ
Progress Ave, Eastwood
9874 0018

Hong Kong Recipe
Shop 110-111, 52-76 Rowe St, Eastwood