Archive for December, 2011

The making of absinthe

The Making of Absinthe

Absinthe recipes abound in bartender’s literature. Whether you are looking to make a palate-pleasing French absinthe or an astringent version of Spanish absinthe, here are some basic rules — as well as variations on the general theme.

Your first step is to procure what’s known as a “neutral spirit.” This can be vodka, grain alcohol, or wine. (Traditionally, wine has been used in the most respected commercial formulations.) Make sure your base isn’t too concentrated or flavorful. Your next step is to “macerate” the spirit with a prepared batch of herbs. In general, for every three quarters of a liter of spirit, add a third a cup of herbs. In the Spanish formulation, herbs include: wormwood, anise seeds, angelica root, and coriander. For the Winston La F?e Verte formulation, use wormwood, anise, angelica root, peppermint leaf and hyssop. Other spices to add could include thyme, cardamom, lemon balm, mint, nutmeg, and sage. Please note, however, that if you use a lot of sage, star anise, wormwood or nutmeg, you may toxify or partially toxify the absinthe. One of the reasons why absinthe is banned or regulated in so many countries is that certain preparations contain a chemical called thujone, which can damage receptors in the central nervous system. A small amount of thujone won’t likely cause a toxic reaction, but if you are making a home formulation, avoid using wormwood stems or macerating your spirit for more than a few months.

Keep the absinthe in a cool location at a constant temperature away from sunlight. Once this process is finished, distill the beverage. This will leave you with a liquid that’s not suited for drinking – it will likely be brown in color and highly astringent. Next, you will need to “finish” the batch to produce appropriate coloration and taste. You can finish with an array of herbs (and even wormwood). Common herbs used in finish include hyssop, melissa, peppermint leaf, and mint.

An alternative way to go is to create multiple distillates with separate flavors to mix later to taste. For instance, you can create a pure “anise” absinthe as well as a pure “peppermint” absinthe and then mix them after the process is finished to create a flavor, color, and bitterness level to your taste.

After macerating the finish, filter the absinthe again and prepare for either bottling or consumption. You can play with both the coloration and taste even at this stage. Add corn syrup or Splenda to sweeten the brew. Alternatively, dilute the beverage with water or add vodka or another base spirit to punch up its alcohol content.

Be aware that if you use too many herbs or too strong a maceration in your preparation, your drink will likely end up tasting bitter or overwhelming. You might also overwhelm the wispy natural green color of the concoction if you steep too long. Conversely, if you add too much base spirit, you can overwhelm the flavoring. If you water the absinthe down too much, you will get an effect known as “louching” — your beverage will cloud.

Once you finish your formulation, you can bottle the absinthe in mason jars, bottles or other glass casings. Be sure to keep your absinthe corked, stored in a cool dark place, and rotated regularly to ensure evenness of flavor and body.

Not all absinthes must be made via distillation. You can find herbal kits (on the internet and elsewhere), which can help you make absinthe, bypassing the distillation stage. You can also create what is known as clear absinthe (also known as Suisse la Bleue), in which there is no finish applied. Although the Suisse la Bleue will be clear (or near clear), you can still taste the flavor traces left over by the initial maceration.

Make sure to prepare all of your ingredients on clean surfaces. Vary up your blend of preparatory herbs to explore different finished products. In fact, you can vary your recipe practically every step! Experiment with the fineness of your herbal preparation, the dimensions of your storage containers, the temperatures at which you store the beverage, the duration of maceration (both initial and finished), the type and strength of the base spirit, your method of filtration and distillation, and the length of time you age your finished product. Above all, make sure that you enjoy the process — experiment often, but experiment safely.

Tea varieties

Tea Varieties

This article will focus on three popular varieties of loose leaf tea–black, white, and green.  All three teas offer excellent health benefits to varying degrees.  Lets take a look at the differences.

Black Tea This tea can be the boldest in flavor.  It can be sweet, spicy and very fragrant.  Black tea is best known for it’s digestive benefits.  Because of it’s high level of tannins, it can have an anti-diarrheal effect.  The theophylline in tea helps to lower cholesterol, expand the airways allowing us to breathe easier, and prevent tooth decay.  Some recent studies indicate that black tea may even kill certain viruses that live on our skin and in our mouth!

Green Tea Green tea is rapidly becoming popular due to it’s emerging known health benefits.  This tea has been known to prevent certain cancers (esophageal and skin) and like black tea, it can lower cholesterol, fight infection and tooth decay, and can boost the immune system.  Green tea contains EGCG which is a very powerful antioxidant also found in wine.  There is more EGCG in green tea than in black tea.

White Tea This tea is made from immature leaves that are picked before the buds are opened.  It’s pale in color and sweet in taste.  It is now believed that white tea is the healthiest tea of all because it contains more antioxidants than green tea.   It provides the same benefits as black and green tea but it is believed that it’s cancer fighting properties are greater.  This tea is usually also the most expensive to buy.

All three teas offer health benefits to anyone who chooses to drink them regularly.  Because tea contain less caffeine than coffee, they are able to increase blood flow to the brain without increasing the heart rate.  It is believed that this can enhance mental clarity.

If you’re unsure about trying loose leaf tea, visit a tea merchant and sample a few varieties.  These stores are fantastic.  The sales associates are experts and can point you in the right direction.  The price of tea varies dramatically.  A good merchant will sell you quality tea without destroying your budget.

For more information about tea,  please visit This link discusses the benefits of loose leaf vs. bagged tea.

For great information regarding healthy food and meal preparation, please visit

Loose leaf tea – to help with allergy symptoms while being caffeine free & helping with kidney stones

Loose Leaf Tea – To Help With Allergy Symptoms While Being Caffeine Free & Helping With Kidney Stones

Loose leaf teas are not bagged or placed in any outer enclosure for brewing purposes when purchased. Many teas are contained within bags for ease of brewing, but these teas are normally not as enticing due to the fact of severe processing steps taking away the loose leaf tea’s flavors and aroma.

Loose leaf teas fall into many categories including red tea, green tea, black tea, white tea, pu-erh tea, oolong tea, herbal teas and organic teas. Red teas are known to slow the aging process and to help with allergy symptoms while being caffeine free and helping with kidney stones. Red teas are known for the lack of caffeine, low tannin levels and the high levels of antioxidants like aspalathin and nothofagin. Red loose leaf teas are thought to help with digestive troubles and are known to be used in South Africa to help with colic, allergies and asthma as well as skin disorders.

Green loose leaf teas are made only with the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, and do not undergo the oxidation that many other teas take part in. Originating in China, many varieties exist due to growing conditions and the time of harvest. Green loose leaf tea is thought to lower the chances of heart disease and fight against some types of cancer.

Black loose leaf teas are more oxidized than oolong, green and white teas. Black tea has a stronger flavor and has more caffeine, and is made up of 2 types of leaves including the C. sinensis sinensis and the C. sinensis assamica. Black teas are called crimson teas in China, due to the color of the brew, and are known to help reverse endothelial vasomotor dysfunction, and decrease cardiovascular troubles.

White loose leaf teas are known to help clear complexions, and have the highest concentration of antioxidants and anti-cancer properties of any tea. White loose leaf teas are uncured and unoxidized and normally have buds and younger tea leaves, and more caffeine than other teas. The most popular types are the Da Bai or large white, and the Xiao Bai or small white leaves of the Narcissus and Chaicha bushes.

Pu-Erh loose leaf teas are known to help cleanse the blood, aid in helping diabetics control blood sugar and remove toxins in the body as well as improve eyesight. Also known as the bolay tea, this is a large leaf variety and is named after the Pu’er county in China. Much like a green tea, this tea can be consumed after being aged for many years to perfect the flavor. Rarity and flavor makes this tea a target for counterfeiters, this tea is known to be expensive only when the age and identity cause the buyer to know it is genuine.

Oolong loose leaf teas are among the most drank in the U.S. and is known for helping the skin, teeth and bones due to fluoride content as well as helping with digestion. Reducing the risk of hypertension and aiding in weight loss and metabolism are only a few of the health properties it can boast. The distinct blue-green tint makes this semi-oxidized tea one of a kind.

Herbal loose leaf teas are known to help gain a restful sleep and aids in digestion, as well as relieves cold symptoms and helps with nausea. Herbal teas are also known as tisane or ptisan teas are words used to refer to infusions that are made from things other than tea leaves. Many are made with fresh and dried flowers, seeds and roots that are known to have healing qualities of their own.

To Buy or Try a Sample Please Go To –

Chai tea – the spices of life

Chai Tea – The spices of life

Contrast to the Asian way of drinking tea without added ingredients, the European, India, and now American are drinking Chai, a creamy tea with many spices.  Originate from India, the main ingredients are inexpensive black tea with cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, ginger powder, and black pepper.  Sugar and milk are added before serving. 

There are endless ways to make this tea.  With the verity of tea choices today, this drink can now be decaffeinated using Rooibos or decaf breakfast blend.  Black teas have changed over the years.  The best tea in India comes from Darjeeling, Northeastern India.  Due to top soil and high elevation, Darjeeling tea can stand on its own without any added ingredients.

Other Chai I have seen in the market are Pumpkin Spice Chai and Green Tea Chai. Sometime Latte is added to Chai referring to a creamy drink.  Latte is an Italian word that describes a drink made of steamed milk.   Listed below is a recipe calling for Chai tea. Try it and let me know how you like this Chai Spiced Tiramisu. If you are a tea connoisseur, why not make Chai with all of the best ingredients  and add some spices to your life!

·  Chai Spiced Tiramisu

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 3 drops of vanilla extract
  • 1 cup marscapone cheese
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 5 bags Chai Tea
  • 1 tsp. spiced rum
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 12 ladyfingers

Cinnamon/Sugar Mix:

  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon

 Preparation Time: 30 minutes

Beat egg yolks with sugar until creamy. Add vanilla extract. Fold in cheese until mixture is smooth and velvety. Bring water to a boil. Pour over Chai tea in a small bowl. Let steep for 2-3 minutes. Set aside to cool. Add spiced rum and 2 teaspoons of sugar. In a clear bowl, spread butter on bottom and sides of bowl. Sprinkle some of cinnamon/sugar mixture on top of the butter. Carefully dip ladyfingers in Chai tea. Place on bottom of clear bowl. Add 1/3 of cheese mixture. Sprinkle cinnamon/sugar mixture. Repeat this step 2 times until leftover cheese mixture is the top layer. Sprinkle rest of cinnamon/sugar mixture on top. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours before serving. Makes 8 servings.

December 2011
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