Food Fusion Fail

Having a “what-does-this-button-do?” reaction to the world is no way to live, but sometimes – just sometimes – it livens things up. I’m generally a pretty safe (to the point of cowardly) person. Risk-taking is not a part of my dossier. However, every once in a while, in my own little way, I step out of the packing-corn-laden box to try something new. Usually, it involves food.

About a year ago, a “test” of sorts was inspired by a random Facebook conversation with Mr. Wind-Up Bird. The lucky S.O.B was living in Japan at the time and bragged – in status-update form – that he was having some yuzu-flavored tea-in-a-jar. Naturally, my ears perked at this. I had tea-in-a-jar before. A trip to the Stash Tea Store garnered an impulse buy of some pomegranate Korean Jar Tea.

The concept behind jarred tea alone was fascinating. In essence, it was a gelatin, syrupy-sweet, glob of pure carb-crash that one simply mixed in with hot water. As I understood it, most jarred teas were thinly-sliced fruit pieces (or whatever namesake flavor was used) combined with honey. I rather enjoyed the pomegranate one but hadn’t had the urge to try others. Yujacha – the Korean name for yuzu-fruit jarred tea – peaked my interest. Of course, anything involving small citrus fruit had that effect.

Photo from Wikipedia

Photo from Wikipedia

I jokingly responded to Wind-Up Bird’s update by daring him to use the citron tea as a topping for green tea ice cream, or I would beat him to it. He responded with a chuckle (I think? I couldn’t tell. It’s Facebook), said it sounded delicious, but gave me the proverbial “have at it”.

And so I did.

My first and only stop was at a Korean supermarket within car-shot of my work. I knew they carried a wide assortment of jarred teas, and I was confident they’d have yujacha as well. I searched up and down the aisles for a good fifteen minutes. Nothing. Dejected, I settled on some saenggang cha – honey ginger tea. It looked about the same color.

After I found the green tea ice cream, I left. My wallet was hurting. All of this for a dare I made…to myself.

First, I decided to try the honey ginger tea by itself. I took a teaspoon of the jelly, added it to a 12oz cup of boiled water, then stirred. I was mildly disgusted with the fact that small flakes of ginger existed within the honey-laden concoction. They didn’t dissipate as readily as the honey either, rather, the yellow-ish tendrils swam as I stirred like blonde hair follicles. Quite revolting.

I took a sip, and – to my “not surprise” – it tasted like ginger but with a creamy texture. The liquid was a bit on the viscous side, proof that the honey still put up a fight against the hot water. The flavor wasn’t bad, it was just…well…ginger-y. Not exactly my favorite of tisanes. I doubted it would mix well with the green tea ice cream, but a dare was a dare – even self-motivated ones.

Green tea ice cream is a love-it or hate-it affair. A lot of people can’t stand the taste of it. And it’s not a complicated creation. Someone took normal (possibly vanilla) ice cream and whipped it to hell with some matcha (powdered green tea). The result is a dessert that Dr. Seuss would be proud of, and it tastes like frozen sweet grass. I like the stuff, but it’s an acquired taste.

I had a fair idea what a ginger green tea tasted like. Tazo made one, and – boy – did it taste like burning! A tad strong on the ginger aspect; great aftertaste, though. From past experience as a tea reviewer, I knew that ginger only blended well if it was done faintly. A light ginger presence went a long way. The same was true in cooking with ginger, in my opinion. According to Ayurvedic practices, ginger was a “hot” herb, which explained why it always gave me heartburn if I had too much. I wondered how well it would mix with something cold.

In short, I thought it mixed quite well at first. The grassy-sweet flavor of the green tea meshed magnificently with the honeyfied ginger. The flakes of the herb even acted as a welcomed garnish. Problem was, a few bites down, the “hot” herb made short work of the ice cream. The concoction melted into a yellow-green, amorphous mass in the bowl. After a few minutes, it was nothing more than sweet milk soup. I couldn’t stand the texture of it then.

In summary, this food risk was a mixed bag. I didn’t faint, vomit, or lose an appendage. But I did have a craving for a lukewarm glass of water. Badly.

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Wednesday, November 17th, 2010 Steep Stories

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