A Gulp of Gold: Guayusa Tea

Guayusa tea, a full-bodied, mellow, yet rounded tea from the Amazon rain forest is a great coffee alternative. Cousin to the popular tea, Yerba Mate, guayusa contains a host of health benefits that can boost your mood, or strengthen your stamina. So, what’s the big deal? An 8 ounce cup of tea contains about the same caffeine content of a cup of coffee. Compared to some teas, guayusa is not bitter as it steeps in a cup of boiling water. Its smooth flavor can make for many cups from on tea bag, and also goes great with lemon.

I sampled guayusa tea from Sacred Tea entrepreneur Luis Olguin (interview coming soon), whose company is devoted to allowing the world experience the healing benefits of guayusa. I tried guayusa  to kick the post-two-thirty-slump to the curb; I drank a cup sweetened with honey. What I discovered–aside from the woody scented steam from the tea–was a drink that gave me sharper mental focus to carry out my work until the end of the day without crashing. I had a slow surge of energy without the crash from coffee, I had the same attributes of caffeine without the irritability hyperness and the jitters. Olguin states that this tea, shared as a communal tea among an indigenous tribe in the Amazon rain forest, is known to have many health benefits: three times the antioxidants in green tea, balances the blood sugar, increases stamina and blood flow, and enhances relaxation. Olguin also practices fair trade by giving the people of the indigenous tribe fair wages, and packages guayusa in sustainable, recycled material. Try it cold for an icy refresher, or brew guayusa in an espresso maker for a stronger flair.

 

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What I’m Sippin On: Green Tea and Strawberry Smoothie (With Recipe)

Hello all! So, fun fact time: I love making and drinking smoothies. It’s a great way to get your fruits serving, calcium and even protein! It’s a great way to replace a meal, and you can even add veggies to your smoothies!!! (I think only carrots may work for this, though) I am currently drinking a green tea and strawberry (with orange juice) smoothie. I love the green tea’s light and herbal flavor, but I also appreciate its light caffeine content. I will be doing a post on why green tea is so epic of a tea, including health benefits, info on tea types (loose leaf, powder and bag). The only thing is I seldom measure when I create things, but I do want you guys to have the recipe. I do think these measurements are pretty accurate, though. It’s delicious! You’ve gotta try this recipe.

Green Tea and Strawberry Smoothie (2 servings)

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 tsps.Matcha Powder (Green Tea Powder- I’m thinking you can also use 1/4 to 1/2 a cup of chilled green tea, just be sure to make sure you sweeten it prior to using it. You may need to adjust this as you go aing, because matcha powdered green tea has a different flavor than liquid green tea in drinks I find. So please, pour, mix and sip, then adjust if necessary! In order to make green tea, please follow the directions on the back of the green tea box.) I bought mine on ebay, but you can find it at Asian stores as well.
  • 1/2 cup Vanilla Yogurt
  • 1/4 cup milk (can be soy or regular)
  • 2 -4 strawberries (depends on how berry you want it to be. I used 2. Can also be frozen)
  • Vanilla flavoring (extract or syrup. I used French Vanilla Flavored Torani syrup) (Vanilla enhances whatever flavors you are using)
  • 1-3 tsps of sugar *to taste* (Can also be substituted with agave nectar, honey, or splenda)
  • 1/4 c orange juice (Really, I just poured enough in the container, and eye measured it.
  • ice cubes (I used about 5-6 whole cubes)

(I used a magic bullet blender to make this.)

1) Spoon 1/2 cup of Vanilla flavored yogurt into the container. This can be adjusted according to how much protein, yogurt content you desire. More yogurt will make the smoothie thicker in texture.

2) Add matcha green tea powder (or cold sweetened green tea) Then add 5 to 6 ice cubes. This can be altered to your personal taste level, but remember that more ice cubes equals a colder beverage, and too much ice can make the drink more slushy  in texture.

Smoothie will be more pink than green, because you are using a small amount of green tea.

3) Add 2-3 strawberries, vanilla flavoring, milk and orange juice. If you are also using a magic bullet, it should be nearly full of ingredients by now. Add desired sugar amount (I added about 2.5 teaspoons)

4) Blend until smooth. You may have to premix the smoothie to ensure the yogurt becomes well incorporated. Smoothie is finishes when it is light pink in color, and smooth in consistency. If you see green powder, or yogurt, please blend until it mixes well.

5) Garnish with a strawberry if necessary. Enjoy!! This can make 2 servings, but if you want more, you can add more milk, which shouldn’t alter the flavor of the smoothie. The consistency however, may be changed. Play with the  fruit content, as well as the yogurt content to get the balanced texture.

*Optional* For added protein content, add desired amount of protein shake mix to smoothie, or even use vanilla soy milk. I have made similar smoothies with soy milk, and it tastes wonderful! Also, you may use powdered sugar in smoothies as they contain a small amount of corn starch, which acts as a mild thickening agent! Info on matcha can be found here: http://www.google.com/search?aq=f&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8&q=matcha

Mio Water Enhancer:Because regular water just isn’t fun anymore.

MiO Peach Tea.

Mio has released commercials of tiny silver bottles that add flavor and color to your water. I purchased this item at Target about 2 weeks ago, and was happy that I could practice a healthy lifestyle, while making my water less boring. Yes, I went there. We all know that water is incredible for health, but let’s be real- it doesn’t always taste fun, and I’m a fun kinda girl! XD So this product was ideal! A little info about my water drinking history- I’d only drink it if I was parched, averaging at about 3 glasses/day. The sad thing was, I was totally okay with that.

 

I had previously contemplated buying a fruit infuser for water to add a natural fruit taste to my water, but was concerned that the result would be watered down madness. So, seeing that I can buy a silver bullet looking product that can really pimp your water was cool. I paid about $3. 10-ish for 24 servings/ squeezes of water. Not bad. You can squeeze 1 stream into your water bottle, which yields a water down, bitter taste, or 4 for a more intense flavor- which may result in a Kool-Aid like flavor influsion.

Berry Pom.

I bought the “Mango Peach” flavor, excited that I could use this to increase my water intake, and pose as a healthy option for beverage drinking sexiness. So how healthy is this?

Nurtition Facts are as follows:

Og of: Fat, Calories, Sodium, Protein, Sugar, Sat./Trans Fat,and Carbs Not bad at all, however, let’s look at the ingredients, shall we? Water, blah, blah,blah, citric acid, blah, Ah! Sucralose and Acesulfame? So there is a small amount of sugar in the content, which is fine, but the only problem is not knowing how much sugar is in it. I have seen some other water enhancers that do not have any sugar at all, but obviously the taste will be compromised. Again, I still think 3 squirts of these in a bottle of water is much healthier than concentrated juice, or the dreaded soda. Yikes! High Fructose Corn Syrup! :O Def. is a must try, but hey if you like your water the classic, watery style, then it’s all good.

 

Cool! It's Like A Rainbow! (Even though it's missing really important colors)

Other Uber cool flavors: Strawberry Watermelon, PEach Tea, Berry Pomegranate, Fruit Punch, and Sweet Tea. I like this stuff, and plan of buying more, because I’m too cool for regular water8). Except for Fiji. That stuff is awesome.

MiO Water Enhancer Yumfactor- 5 tongues. (5/5) Cheap, fun, and exotic, you can be encouraged to drink more water with these. But of course, you can do what I do, and alternate between the party in a cup (MiO), to the party pooper in a cup (regular water). There are color additives, so that may turn some people off.

Thanks to all the voters of my last poll!  I really appreciate your input and participation.

 

DON’T FORGET TO RATE/COMMENT/SUBSCRIBE! (OR ALL THREE, IN THAT SAME ORDER! XD)

 

 

Coffee Creamer Review: Chocolate Chip Creme Brulée

Again, with the coffee creamers.

I like anything new when it comes to foods and their flavors, so I decided on trying both of the limited edition International Delight’s coffee creamers, Chocolate Chip Creme Brulée and Sweet Buttercream. The containers are both elaborately decorated with cool swirly designs and attractive colors, not to mention the drool-inducing food graphics.

I purchased the chocolate chip creme brulée first, because it sounded rather adventurous; deep, rich chocolate with a creme brulée undertone. Because I really didn’t understand what that was specifically or how it tasted, so I had to find out.  I wondered if the chocolate would over power the creme brulée or if the creme brulée would delicately compliment the chocolate.

Well, upon my first sip of coffee, here’s what happened.  I noticed the smell first.  The scent was wonderfully rich in all its chocolatiness and had a strong punch of the vanilla custard of the creme  brulée.  It’s almost like a souped up French Vanilla, but with carmelized sugar sprinkled inside each of  its buttery layers.  If you sniffed it as long as I did, you can even make out the sugary topping of the creme brulée.  Quite naturally,  I was expecting to taste a strong creme  brulée note. Hmm. I’m actually still waiting for it to emerge somewhere when I taste it, but it doesn’t seem to happen.  The flavoring was  mostly chocolate with a soft yet sweet vanilla cream undertone.  It was most certainly there but passively, as if it its job was to calm down the dramatically noticable chocolate from time to time; think a side kick whose jokes aren’t funny and does not do anything for the story-on top of that, you constantly forget their name and function.  (Perhaps this is intended, because the words “chocolate chip” are placed before the creme brulée.)

I tried the creamer in coffee rather than in tea, and its strong chocolate  taste is a perfect match for the strong cocoa aroma.  It was more so exquisite when paired with coffee and cupcake coffee syrup, yielding a sinfully indulgent chocolate cupcake party in my mug. *Note that this flavor is sweet and because of its sweet flavor may cause you to not take your coffee seriously sometimes, kind of like someone telling a 40 year old to eat cocoa puffs for breakfast. It’s good yes, but it’s like candy!!

If you are a chocolate fan, this will surely delight your senses, but if you rooting for its sidekick, *forgets their name* this may not be for you.

Pros: Wonderfully scented, a good and interesting flavor, yummy chocolate accent. Slight yet weak vanilla and sugar taste, which is supposedly the creme brulée.  <–wait, or is that a con? *shrugs*

Cons: You can smell more of the creme brulée than you can taste as the flavors are not experienced in levels, but more so the chocolate overshadowing it.  I suppose this is to be expected for some, but the label does say creme brulée.

Chocolate Chip Creme Brulée Yumfactor: 3  out of 5 tongues and a taste bud. It was the creme brulée ont the package that made me buy it, but I was not really tasting much of it.

Thai Iced Tea: A Must Try Delicacy

Thai Iced Tea

  

Thai Iced Tea Yumfactor: 5 out of 5 tongues and a taste bud (I know the rating system stops at 5 but I could not resist!)

What Is Thai Iced Tea??

I love Thai cuisine for the mixture of complex spicy flavours and bold sweetness.  Often times, you will find curries, coconuts and other spices that enliven the exotic, beautiful cuisine. If you frequent Thai restaurants, you would have noticed the Thai Iced Tea (or simply Thai Tea) menu option, probably trying it on for size.  For those of you who do not know what this delicious drink is, it’s basically a mixture of  brewed black tea, sharp star anise, cinnamon, sugar and orange food coloring; Some recipes call for tamarind and other exotic items as well.  The tea is brewed and condensed milk or evaporated milk is added, along with ice yielding a deliciously adventurous and unforgettable beverage.

This drink is beautifully balanced in a sweet richness that is deliciously exotic and bold. The coloring is striking, and the contrast of the white milk poses as eye candy. Even though you may not enjoy the spicy and sweet combination, I highly recommend this product. Be warned, though this drink can be like a mojito! Hit or miss as some restaurants add too much water (obviously making them from pre made ingredients that add water and serve) or do not have enough sugar. Tin Drum is a restaurant that carries good Thai Iced Tea. You can also buy Thai Tea powder online. Here are the links I found: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&rlz=1T4GWYA_enUS315US315&q=buy+thai+tea&aq=f&aqi=g4g-m2&aql=&oq=&gs_rfai=

Thai Tea Ice Cream

Also, there are ice cream recipes that use Thai Tea. Not only is the color vibrant, but I am almost positive the dish is amazing as well. Click the photo for the link.

 

Coffee Creamer Wars: Sweet Buttercream Vs. Sweet Italian Cream

                                   

 Lately I have become  more adventurous in trying assorted flavours of coffee creamers (Either that, or I have too much time on my hands). Considering I’m a foodie who appreciates variety, I thought the challenge of being open to the arms of non dairy flavoured cream would be fun.  So far, I have enjoyed my coffee tasting richer and more exotic. Sadly, I have come up disappointed on a few occasions, but hey, maybe I expect too much to begin with.  Firstly, there are the two main companies I will be referring to: International Delights and Coffee-Mate. Both have strong flavours and much variety thus both appearing to be winners at slight.

With all the brouhaha over coffee these days, it’s no wonder companies are trying to capitalize on consumers need for variety.  Luckily for you, consumer, you can have fun trying all the different flavors to give your coffee a facelift.  If you shop at any main grocery store, like Wal-mart or Publix, you will see a huge assortment of coffee creamer flavors from these two main brands. Both reasonably priced, both different in flavor.

 Now, according to my taste buds I would prefer International Delights coffee creamers. They offer a more naturally flavored variety. Take their French Vanilla for example the creamy, smooth strongly vanilla flavor in soaked in richness and topped off with a beautiful aroma.  If I were to compare it to Coffee Mate’s French Vanilla, I would get a similar scent experience, with a slightly more artificial vanilla quality.

 The above photos shows two distinct products by both companies. Though I’d generally prefer Int. Delights to Coffee Mate, I will make an exception in these two flavours. The Sweet Buttercream is one to try as the scent is a dead on duplication of buttercream. A plus is that is not too sweet and even has a sweetened cream cheese undertone.  My favourite would be however, the Sweet Italian Cream. This lovely flavour is delicate yet bold in a sweetened vanilla taste that is surprisingly unartificial. It does justice to the brand, almost contradicting its normal artificial concept. This is also very versatile, as it can enhance any flavour you add it to, be it original coffee, or flavored coffee. It is also heavenly in tea. As for the sweet buttercream, I cannot say the same, though it is good in its own right. (Remember, I am comparing the 2 so results are based on the other’s flavor and not their own.)

Sweet Buttercream Yumfactor: 3 out of 5 tongues and a taste bud.

Sweet Italian Cream Yumfactor: 4 out of 5 tongues and a taste bud.