When I first met CT, I was intrigued by the bowls of bubbling brown liquid lying around his flat. They had a pleasant fruity tangy aroma emanating from them and were covered with what looked to be some kind of large flat mushroom. This was my introduction to kombucha.
As a Froothie ambassador I get to try out some amazing pieces of kit. When I heard I would be getting the new Optimum P200 Dehydrator I was positively hopping up and down with excitement. Dehydrated foods are meant to be a good way of preserving fruit, veg and other foodstuffs whilst retaining flavour and nutritional content. There are many advantages to living in Cornwall, but dryness is not one of them and until now dehydrating foods has not been an option.
As some of you may have noticed I’ve been using a new kitchen gadget recently in some of my recipes. The Optimum ThermoCook from Froothie is a multi purpose kitchen appliance that can do pretty much any job that needs doing. I’ve been putting it through some of its paces and here’s what I think of it so far.
Knives are an integral part of any kitchen, but how many of us actually have a good set of Chef’s knives? I’ve been using a motley collection to chop, cut and slice most of my life and living in a Cornish cottage, I never expected to see a contemporary and stylish knife set, such as this one from Edge of Belgravia, sitting on my kitchen counter top.
When I lived in Leamington Spa many years ago, there was a captivating kitchen shop which I liked to wander around and dream of one day being able to buy some of the lovely things it held. Pastry forks and cake servers weren’t even on my radar then, but I did have my eye on some classic Arthur Price cutlery.
It’s been a while since I showcased some of the products that have made it into the Tin and Thyme kitchen in recent weeks. This post is all about the gadgets.
Yes, a new and powerful beast has taken up residence in my kitchen. It has such a commanding presence that I can’t help but use it again and again. What, you may well ask, is she wittering on about now? I have a new blender, a Froothie Optimum 9200A Next Generation to be precise.
Finely grinding many foods, especially fruit, vegetables and nuts enables the body to more easily absorb any available nutrients. Whilst my old blender was useful for making basic smoothies, it wasn’t very efficient at grinding up anything course. This meant, when making smoothies with goji berries for instance, I’d end up with a reddish bitty sludge at the bottom of the jug that wasn’t desperately appealing. I was also unable to make ‘green’ smoothies. I tried with some of our home grown kale once and it was just not meant to be – coconut water with large pieces of kale floating about in it was rather hard to drink.
An old hand at bread-making I may be, but I was a little daunted when I was recently sent an automatic Panasonic bread maker to try out. I have never used a machine to make bread before, other than an oven and I was a little concerned I would fall at the first hurdle. In truth I’ve always been a bit wary of bread makers as I’d heard they weren’t great for the flours I like to bake with – spelt and rye.
The collection of teapots in our house is steadily growing. This suits us fine as we now have the right teapot for every occasion. Or at least I thought we did. When I was sent an ingenuiTEA to try out from Adagio Teas, I realised our collection was by no means complete. This contraption brews loose leaf teas, letting out the steeped tea from the bottom rather than through a spout. Tea leaves are placed inside the pot and hot water added. As soon as the tea is ready, it is placed atop a cup; the valve opens and the clear tea filters through. Once you have finished with your tea leaves, they can be tossed away and the ingenuiTEA washed up – by hand or in the dishwasher.
What I liked
- The see through nature of the container – it’s fun to see tea leaves unfurling and the water changing colour as the brew progresses.
- The non-drip nature of the design – unlike many teapots, you can stop the process at any point and put the ingenuiTEA down without a single drip.
- No need for heat proof surfaces or protective mats – the pot is elevated off the surface with no hot bottom to burn your precious table.
- Neat design – I like the simple look.
- Works with any cup up to 9.5 cm in diameter.
- The material used – I am not a fan of plastic and would have preferred glass. It is, however, BPA free.
- No way of determining the volumes – unless you are using a clear cup, it’s not obvious when to stop the flow. I had tea overflowing all over the place with the first cup I made, though I very soon got the hang of it.
- The capacity is 450ml (16 oz) which is not quite enough for two regular mugs and too much for one. It is, however, perfect for two tea cups. Maybe I just need to be a little more refined in my tea drinking.
- Brand stamping – I would prefer to have the device completely clear of all writing and logos.
The more teas I sample, the more I’m amazed at just how different they all are. I’d requested a variety of teas, some of which I was familiar with and others I’d not tried before. These sampling packs struck me as a particularly good idea; you can try before committing to a more extensive purchase. Each pack is resealable and contains enough tea to make a good ten cups. They come with instructions which include brewing times and water temperature, although being an American company, this was in degrees fahrenheit rather than celsius.
I had to try this one first, of course. I’m not normally a fan of black teas, but I will partake of chai, Earl Grey and the occasional speciality tea if it’s on offer. This was a black Ceylon tea with cocoa nibs, dark chocolate chips and a natural chocolate flavour. I’ve tried several chocolate teas now, but never one which contained actual chocolate pieces. This is the only one I tried adding a dash of milk to as I thought it would work well with both the black nature of the tea and the chocolate. I was right, although it worked equally well without. The chocolate flavour shone through with fruity notes and a slight astringency.
Good quality white tea is my favourite version of Camellia sinensis. This one was a new one on me. The unopened tea buds are harvested along with the two newest leaves. This freshness really comes through. It has a light fruity aroma with a delicate taste. Floral and fruity tones shine through and it isn’t in the least bit bitter. Really it is quite delicious and an excellent accompaniment to afternoon tea.
Ti Khan Yin
I know very little about oolong teas, other than they are complex in both production and flavour and are thus correspondingly more expensive than many other teas. They are a speciality of South China and although they come in many varieties are all oxidised to some degree or other. To my knowledge, this was the first oolong tea I’ve ever tried. Ti Khan Yin being greenish in colour is a lightly oxidised tea. It has both a grassy and floral aroma and a fresh sprightly taste that both CT and I really liked, yet, the notes left lingering on the palate are woody ones. This is a nice refreshing cuppa which works particularly well as a breakfast tea we thought.
This red South African tea, not to be confused with the more commonly known rooibos, has an aromatic fruity scent with honey notes. It is not a true tea, being the leaves of a legume called Cyclopia rather than what we commonly know as tea, Camellia sinensis. It contains no caffeine, is low in tannins so there is no bitterness if over brewed and it is said to lower cholesterol and fight respiratory infections. CT, who has fond memories of his trip to South Africa many years ago, thinks it encapsulates the smell of the bush and transported him back there almost immediatley. The tea is the colour of honey and has a pleasant sweet and fruity flavour, not overpowering, but refreshing. This has been a firm favourite of ours for many years.
Jasmine Phoenix Pearls
Tight clusters of curled green tea leaves form little balls known as pearls. As soon as they come into contact with hot water they unfurl in a rather beautiful way. Also beautiful is the aroma generated from the Jasmine which quickly scents the room. The flavour is prominent, but not overpowering as can be the case with some jasmine teas. We both thoroughly enjoyed this one and it works particularly well as an after dinner refresher.
Thanks to Adagio for the ingenuiTEA and tea samples. There was no requirement to write a positive review and as always all opinions are my own.