Thursday, May 17, 2012

Tea Please!

Before my trip to Shenzhen, China, I had only enjoyed tea Southern style- iced and sweet.
My palate for tea grew leaps and bounds in China. I learned of the poplularity of hot tea. It was hard for me to get used to it at first because I am not accustomed to drinking warm beverages except for coffee and hot chocolate and those are only for special occasions in the winter.
Ling who works at the St. Regis hotel where I was preparing Southern cuisine for two weeks, told us that we needed to experience a tea market. There we sampled a variety of hot teas including red, green, and black. I liked the lychee tea because it had sweet notes. It was definitely a learning experience for example, green tea is steeped differently than black tea. The temperature of the water can effect the flavor of the tea.
I have only seen tea ground and in a tea bag. I never knew of using tea leaves to make tea until I saw the process at the tea market. Ling explained to my mom and I that when choosing the tea leaves, look for ones that are not bruised and withered. The best flavor is going to come from the quality tea.
My mom and I were walking back from lunch with Ling when we passed by a street vendor that served what Ling called milk tea. I wasn't sure that I would like milk in my tea. I am adventureous though and once I saw there was a chocolate flavor, I was in. My mom chose the coconut flavor
I was surprised when I received the milk tea to find black balls at the bottom of my cup. Ling explained that they were black tapioca pearls which makes it bubble or boba milk tea. The straws are extra large so that when you sip your milk tea, you also get a treat of a chewy tapioca ball. I would say the texture is similar to a gummy worm. I really enjoyed it. It was a fun drinking experience.
After returning to the states, I wanted to replicate this fun drink for my friends and family. I lucked up and found the extra large straws at an Asian market in Hattiesburg, MS. I googled a few recipes and then put my own twist to them.
For a Southern presentation, I served the bubble milk tea in mason jars.
I used green tea and served coconut milk tea and chocolate milk tea. For the tapioca pearls, I chose the white and multi-color because the black pearls can be kind of scarey.
My recipes:
Chocolate Bubble Milk Tea
1 cup steeped green tea, chilled *black tea can be substituted
1 cup chocolate milk
prepared tapioca pearls

Combine the tea and milk in a blender and blend for a minute. *If more sweetness is desired, add a little condensed milk to the milk and tea mixture and blend. Spoon some of the tapioca pearls into a mason jar or cup and pour the frothy chocolate milk tea over the tapioca. Serve with the extra large straws.
Serves 3 to 4 ppl

Coconut Bubble Milk Tea
1 cup steeped green tea, chilled
1 cup coconut milk
1 Tbsp. coconut cream
prepared tapioca pearls
Combine the tea, coconut milk, and cream in a blender and blend for a minute. *If more sweetness is desired, add more coconut cream to the milk and tea mixture and blend. Spoon some of the tapioca pearls into a mason jar or cup and pour the frothy coconut milk tea over the tapioca. Serve with the extra large straws.
Serves 3 to 4 ppl

If you would like to experience milk tea before attempting to make it yourself, visit Mocha Blues in D'Iberville, MS or Bubble Valley in Crestview, FL. Share other places that offer milk tea in the comment section. I would love to visit other locations that serve this tea treat!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Mother's Day Gift Ideas

I know exactly what I am going to give my mom this year for Mother's Day but because I know she will look at this post then I want spoil it for her and share it. I will share some ideas in case you do not know what to give your mom this Mother's Day.

I like to give gifts to that are special to the person I am gifting to. My mom shares a love of food with me so a food or kitchen related gift would be special to her.
Taste of Mississippi- Bass Pecan Package
My mom loves pecans in her brownies, granola, pralines, etc. This Bass Pecan Package is a great way to give a gift that can continually be enjoyed. To learn more about this gift, click the following link
 Sonoma Trio by O Olive Oil
My mom and I consider ourselves as some what of olive oil conisseurs. We love to visit olive oil shops and sample the best that they have to offer. If you are in New Orleans, visit Vom Fass on Magazine Street. In old town Chicago, visit Old Town Oil. Both of these shops will ship the oils to you if desired.
O was the first in this country to crush organic citrus with olives to produce their signature line of oils. The lemon olive oil is one-of-a-kind. My mom and I love to drizzle it and balsamic vinegar such as O's white balsamic vinegar over our salad for a simple dressing. The white balsamic has a delicately sweet flavor that pairs well with the bright citrus flavor of the olive oil. For more information on this gift, visit

So we have covered food related gifts and now onto beauty. My mom loves to be pampered. I love to gift her with vanilla scented bath products because it is her favorite smell. I have also in the past gifted her with a gift certificate for a manicure and pedicure.

I not only want to gift my mom with a Mother's Day present but also my sister, a first time mom. My sister, Leslie, will celebrate her first Mother's Day this year.

My nephew, John Michael, is a precious gift from God.
For my sister, I am gifting her with a gift that keeps on giving of makeup. She love beauty products. Her indulgence is reading fashion magazines like Instyle. This weekend I showed her a new technique I learned the last time I visited a Sephora store. I love going to Sephora because you can have someone teach you makeup techniques and try different products on you. I wanted to know how I can make my eyes more dramatic so I went to Sephora and my eyes were given a makeover. I learned  how applying waterproof eye liner to your inner rim, can add depth and definition. The lady also showed me what colors work well with brown-eyed girls. She tried a purple eye-makeup palette on me and a green palette on my mom. I loved the colors. The greens are my favorite. To finish off the look, Benefit's They're Real! mascara is great. It really elongates your lashes.
So, for my sister, I am gifting her with the Smashbox dark brown eye liner, Sephora's wild safari green eye-makeup palette, and Benefit's They're Real! maskara. I can share this with you because I know that she will not have time, being a busy mom, to see this post.
Visit a Sephora store near you or
Sephora stores near me- Jackson and New Orleans

Happy shopping!