Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Feeling Foofy

Among tea drinkers, there are a great many who are tea purists – those who believe that the leaf is sacred, and should not be adulterated with any additives or flavorings, but taken on its own merit, enjoyed simply for what it is in the here and now.

Obviously, I am not one of those tea drinkers. I enjoy tea on it's own merit most of the time, but I fully admit to enjoying "playing" with my drinks...what can I say, I get bored easily.

I’ve been enjoying a bowl of Matcha almost every day at lunch, and enjoying far greater productivity at work in the afternoons (I know, weird and wild stuff!). This past weekend, I made what amounts to a Matcha Latte – in essence, strongly brewed matcha, milk, and sweetener (honey or sugar – I tried both). And seriously, both cups were completely yummy, the honey cup being slightly more subtle than the sugared cup.

Now I want a milk steamer. To make tea lattes with. Because hey, if Matcha is good “latte-d”, why wouldn’t chai be? Or Keemun, or even my Sichuan Gungfu? Perhaps a smoky Lapsong, for cold, rainy days. Only as a once or twice a week treat, mind you – but I’d really love to have them occasionally, and I’d dearly enjoy having a milk steamer/frother to make them with, rather than just heating up the milk in a saucepan. All the pictures online looked much “frothier” than mine, so I have a hankering to recreate that for myself.

But then today, while I was searching online for milk steamers/frothers, and trying to reconcile myself to the fact that an electric wand would probably work just as well as a steamer (even though I love the “gadget factor” of a steamer), I came across something new. Well, new to me. And fascinating, because it could just possibly become my justification for buying an espresso machine.

Yes, you read that right. An espresso machine, for a tea drinker.

Apparently, South Africa is now exporting Rooibos that has been ground up specifically to use in espresso machines, just like ground coffee. And supposedly, it creates a creamy layer on top of the brew just like a coffee espresso would. From what I’ve read, this is really amplifies the taste of the rooibos, and is quite “tasty” too, creating the basis for rooibos lattes, cappuccinos, and other coffee-style drinks.

I realize that rooibos is a tisane, but I still enjoy it quite a lot, and a decaffeinated, super-healthy tisane-based espresso really appeals to both my gadget-lover side and my rebels-against-the-coffee-world side. And buying an espresso machine would solve my milk steamer desire too…so I could have my weekly tea lattes without lusting after the frothy pictures I see splashed across the ‘net (tea lattes in tea shops here consist of a liquid concentrate to start…not really tea, and while they’re good, it’s all flavoring, no tea taste at all, and not worth the $3.50 for a small cup that they charge).

So yeah – I’ll have to think on that. But I’m definitely interested…anyone out there tried one of these “Red Espressos”?


  1. I haven't tried a brand name red espresso, but I did try a rooibos put through an espresso machine. I thought it was pretty good. I might just buy some of the Red Espresso to see if the leaves are any different from regular rooibos...which is already pretty fine. My intrepid coffeehouse just used the regular stuff.

  2. Well from what I read, this "Red Espresso" stuff is very finely ground (moreso than normal Rooibos), to work with an espresso machine. I really have no idea if it would make a difference or not, but if you try it, let me know if there's any difference...and if I break down and buy an espresso machine, I'll be sure to pass on what I find.

    I wonder if we could run flavored rooibos through the machine? Hmm...

  3. I bought some red espresso from my local Whole Foods Market. It is a lot finer than normal rooibos and gave a very intense shot of ooibos. I used my Breville home machine. I added foamed milk and really enjoyed the latte. I think this is something I could get into.

  4. Hey thanks for posting back, Nick! I'm glad to hear it turned out well for you, and that you liked it. I'm still set on tasting it somewhere, sometime, I just don't quite know when that will be yet. But I appreciate the feedback. :-)

  5. I tried it fresh from the espresso machine and all. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't much like what I remember espresso tasting like either. It was very sweet and woody tasting, basically just like rooibos but much more intense. Hope that helps!


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