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Friday, December 12, 2014

Holiday Caffeine Scene: Gifts and Blends

Posted By on Fri, Dec 12, 2014 at 11:51 AM

Scouting trips have strong evidence that holiday caffeine finds from tea leaves to Chemex makers to Kleen Kanteen travel mugs, and beyond, are in full effect. There’s innovative stuff like espresso salt going for $13.19 a pound at Rainbow, and coffee ice cream remains a must try relief snack whether you’re at Bi-Rite Creamery (Ritual Roasters) or Humphry Slocombe (Blue Bottle). Here's the best of the bunch for the caffeine fiend in your lives.

click to enlarge AIYA
  • Aiya
Froth away: For those looking to spend to get a legit matcha experience going as described last week, scoops and whisks made out of bamboo are integral to the process. Oakland-based author and food poet Annelies Zijderveld kindly shared her favorite spots:
Whole Foods in Potrero Hill sells matcha whisks and whisk stands, which if you're serious about matcha are not that expensive must-haves. The bamboo whisk is almost mushroom-shaped and is curled at the ends to help incorporate the finely ground tea that is matcha into a smooth cup of tea. You can also find matcha whisks at local stores, Dandelion, also in Potrero, and at Kamei, in the Richmond. DAVIDsTea and Teavana carry several kinds of matcha, as well as whisks.”

click to enlarge DAVIDSON'S ORGANICS
  • Davidson's Organics
Beyond matcha, DAVIDsTea also carries two fun ideas that won’t break your e-wallet: a Nordic tea mug with infuser and lid ($22.50) – the heat-sensitive design gives a pattern that changes color as you s-l-o-w-l-y empty that vessel. Slowing down is really part of the main point of sipping tea, right? For a fresh take on the nativity calendar, opt for the DAVIDsTea 24 days of tea box ($34.50), where flavors like main squeeze (yerba mate with candied papaya), sleigh ride (apple & hibiscus blossoms), and bubbie’s baklava (oolong with chicory) share intrigue and surprise with more traditional flavors organic peppermint and English breakfast. Bonus: those tins are reusable, sturdy and compact enough if you want to give them a second life as spice storage units, which I plan to do in the New Year.

Davidson's Organics has a DIY tea blending kit (around $30) with 12 loose-leaf teas, a pot and steeper. It’s a good way to get a step-by-step feel for the tea blending process while creating a nice hot cuppa to fit your craving of the hour—for me that means my afternoon blend will be a bit stronger than one crafted in the evening hours. Davidson’s was reportedly the first U.S. tea company to go entirely fair trade and organic, which is a notable feat for any size operation. Co-owner Promilla Mohan grew up on the third-generation tea gardens in the Darjeeling district of India, from which the company sources tea.

click to enlarge POM WONDERFUL
  • POM Wonderful
Getting gifts is thirsty business, and the new POM Wonderful super teas have both desired antioxidant levels and dark cherry-punch flavor notes — a different way to get caffeine going with green and white tea options. In theory these could mix with bubbly or vodka for party drinks, but I’ve never fully understood the idea behind getting a dose of caffeine with a boozy drink. Fresh pomegranate season runs through January, and Bay Area chefs Joanne Weir, Michael Mina and Nathan Beriau contributed culinary prowess to the recent POM chef program of recipes, an annual happening worth noting.

Send those highly caffeinated thoughts to writereadeat (at) gmail.

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About The Author

Mary Ladd


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