Tag Archives: Ice Cream

I Scream! #icecreamfordinner

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For a string of lonesome weeks, I had #dessertfordinner and #icecreamfordinner on Friday nights.

My night cap and stress killer and tear-catcher, the shoulder to cry on and the punching bag to abuse with my profanity—that was ice cream!

And so Ice Cream Nights was formed. Yes, I did scream for ice cream—scream so loud, getting a sore throat was imminent, but I do not care.

It was fattening and an act of gluttony, especially if I had dinner #2 at home, but #dessertfordinner was the Friday norm.

In St. Marc Café, two visits were warranted since I went through a “cone” phase. For some reason, I dreamt of waffle cones and detested plastic cups!

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The Rikyu was fine since it came with a side scoop of matcha ice cream. At the bottom of the cone was the excellent surprise of frosted flakes! Of course they were too sweet the first time around, so make sure you have access to water before you burst into chatter, laughter or near-death choking fits.

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Madonna came next and was bathed in frozen chunks of strawberries and chocolate syrup. The strawberries were fine but my hangry side wanted more oomph and juice, and the chocolate syrup tasted like Hershey Brown Cow—making the cone really sticky that I felt like a 5-year old!

Not sure if I was more stressed than usual because I finished the cone even before we reached the end of the parking lot. This is the part where I eat at home again.

Oh Madonna, you small and sticky, girl!

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Rita’s Italian Ice is a Greenhills favorite, but I really am not fond of the “ice”. Love the custard, hate the ice. Hence, I had to order the custard swirl sundae cone.

Too embarrassed to walk around licking a large cone, I had it inverted on a cup “to go”. Lovely. Just look at it!

It took so long to finish in the car, we were nearly halfway through EDSA northbound. Worth every lick! Haha!

Last but not the least is the newly opened Honey Crème in Trinoma. Found at the GF near Gourdo’s, it’s so new, the aircon doesn’t even seem to be working yet (or not even installed? Haha).

I had it to-go but in reality, there’s no to-go plan or cover or paperbag, so it really seems that I was just talking to myself.

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The guy who concocted my Organic Multi Grain Cup did not seem like an enthusiastic creator and left me as I was asking about the “take out” method. Hmm.. I guess they want us to eat it in their Purgatory tables. I ate it while walking and tried not to finish it before reaching the parking lot again!

It was a tiny cup for P175! The grains were supposed to be a mixture of health seeds and nuts but all I could detect was polvoron-like sesame grains and honey.

It was okay, but it was too damn small for its price. When I got home, I ate a big bowl of salad with Doritos. Hunger not solved!

That’s it for Ice Cream Nights! My next target is BLK 513 at Megamall, which is likely to happen in 2017 given the traffic and mayhem. Anyway, there’s Rita’s Italian Ice in UP Town Center in case of emergency and Jamba Juice in Trinoma has a new peanut butter banana split—will do for now.

 

 

 

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BOXPARK MNL: Eating Outside the Box

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Welcome to District 1 (QC), BOXPARK MNL! To grace our ghetto district with a food park is a gracious gastronomic sign!

Northern foodies will finally have options other than Cocoy’s Pares, a Veneto and our string of lechon manok stalls.

For 2 consecutive Saturdays we scoured BoxPark MNL along Congressional Ave. for early dinner fares. Unfortunately we missed Cajita churros on both accounts—so 2 points for Mr. Diggins for being the consistent dessert provider.

Points also for the hasty service, Mr. Diggins, so we start off the gastro-journey with you.

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Mr. Diggins serves ice cream with waffles, with 4 topping/flavours to choose from. We consistently bought that Black Bay because it seemed like the best choice.

Come on, can’t go wrong with chocolate popcorn and syrup!

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I had tried the Great White as a novel choice, and whilst the pretzels did look pretty, my heart still lingers to the Black Bay. With the very filling waffle, cooked on-the-spot, a good deal at P95!

We normally eat at the Thai Food table, since it has a roof (#Nona) and that cozy corner garden ambience. This explains why most of the purchases went to this stall, but don’t get me wrong, they were all worth it—including the wait!

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We loved the Pad Thai since it was quite a steal at P100, had shrimps and loads of tofu. The flavour was acceptably Thai (and not too overwhelming), it was filling on its own and only gluttony would dictate buying from the neighbors. The Thai Fried Rice was the rice counterpart, but I really find noodles the more enjoyable carb option.

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The lady cooks the food upon order, which can take some time during peak hours. Luckily Mr. Diggins kept us company during those waiting hunger pangs.

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The chicken tenders came from 1957 Chicken Stop and had gravy and cheese dip choices. From the looks of the cheese dip, you could guess it was diluted Cheezee whilst the gravy is the normal one. The chicken tenders were, well, tender and fresh, and partially reminiscent of a slight KFC peppery flavour.

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Colonel Frank’s serves hotdog sandwiches with a twist, but my brother was not interested in any innovative venture and just wanted to enjoy a plain dog on the brioche. He got what he wanted (no idea how he communicated this plain jane request), but was not too happy with the bread (he was expecting French flair) and the hotdog (had better)—which is probably why Colonel Frank’s is best enjoyed with the mac and cheese on top.

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Pie Guys opened a bit late (or we came too early) so the Mashinator (Pulled Pork) came in during dessert time. With spuds and pie forming the crowning glory, it was comfort food variety that was really filling. We had to bring home the other half of the crown.

Last but not the least is the Mexican place with the longest name: Plaza de Taqueria Mexicana Cantina. The “Taqueria” held quite a queue one early Saturday afternoon because it was one of the few stalls open.

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The Taqueria, that day, was quite busy: the orders didn’t come at the same time (forgivable), the girl kept on referring to the enchilada as “chalupa” (so we thought it was the wrong order) and they forgot my fish tacos (but pretended not to).

While I have no idea how the back kitchen operates, I could imagine it was topsy-turvy with folks calling everything and each other “Chalupa!” Kaloka.

While the food items certainly looked lip-smacking delectable, they were more mediocre than their beautiful plating.

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The nachos were hmmm-kay and the fish tacos held tiny fish chunks and more salsa.  The salsa was spicy great, but the portion was on the pequeno side.

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The Quesodilla seemed pretty comfy in its wooden block, but when a slow eater finishes it in a jiffy—you know someone wants to have dessert ASAP!

While I haven’t tried everything in BoxPark MNL (Cajitas huhu), our initial verdict that that we shall come back for Thai Food’s Pad Thai! And if we have room for dessert (wait, we always do!) it’ll be Black Bay by Mr. Diggins.

Goodie, finally a QC foodie destination right along our ghetto Congressional Avenue! Finally a spot on the map!

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Go Fish!

This crunchy Dory goes by no English name, so we like to refer to it as the Fish Ice Cream or the Korean Fish. The English Alphabet fails to grace the packaging as well, leaving us with so much imagination as to the ingredient listing or catchy write-up of the Fish Ice Cream. Does it start with “Here fishy, fishy?” Or how about, “Tastes better than Kimchi.”

Ah, forget it.

The nutrition facts portion does provide a ray of hope, posting 200 kcal and what seem to be loads of fat percentages. However when compared vis-a-vis fellow grocery chiller item Magnum, the Fish Ice Cream posts a better “health” return, in terms of calories and sugar. That much I can figure out. 

For 200 calories, this is quite a catch for those yearning for a suitable dessert while minimizing the excess load (i.e. sugar, ice cream, Magnum or even frozen yogurt). On top of that, the fish wafer is such a delightful thing to look at, it took me a while to realize that ice cream was melting, it had to be eaten.

This is one of those instances when keeping a photo proves to be handy, although there’s also the risk that it would make me hungry.

Inside the fish wafer are vanilla ice cream and adzuki beans to warm that sweet tooth. Don’t expect the fish to be that crisp crackling wafer that pops from the package. Science should explain that the moist level of the packaging coupled with its liquid interior will certainly seep into the wafer, creating a softer and chewy feel. 

Still, there’s that sweet vanilla fill that the Fish Ice Cream provides, sans the overbearing chocolate or nuts that can get stuck in your teeth. 

At P41 (Landmark Grocery) per fish, there’s nothing fishy about this treat, other than being shaped like a fish. 

Go fish!

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Sister Act: Ice Cream Sandwiches

When up in the mountains (or is it hills?) of summer haven Tagaytay, the last thing in anyone’s hunger fantasy would perhaps be ice cream. A cup of hot chocolate or ramen is more like it, better suited for the fine weather and chilly nights, for card games, family bonding and that imaginary fire place we wish we had.

But no, in the tradition of truancy, it was a call for the challenge of the cold and survival of the hungry. Summer or chilly, this called for ice cream, or rather, the ice cream called out to us.

I will explain why this temptation was permitted; these little sinister ice cream sandwiches, well, the nuns made them. Sinful and cold-causing as they may seem in the cold weather, they happen to be the creation of the kind-hearted nuns of the Little Souls Church in Tagaytay.

Neapolitan Ice Cream Sandwich

Now before you get into any ideas of sainthood, let it be known that the ice cream sandwiches are not holy, blessed or will grant instant beatification to whomever ingests it. Do not hoard these angelic wafers for the hope of spiritual salvation. If you should hoard them, it should be for charity (I would assume that a portion of its P50 price would go to the church’s cause) and indulgence (delightful desserts they make).

Available in a vast array of flavors from the common (chocolate, avocado, strawberry) to gourmet preferences (blueberry, French vanilla and Neapolitan), the ice cream sandwich is covered with a thin vanilla wafer that blends well with its thick and generously spread ice cream filling. The debate on the ice cream brand raged on till dinner as proponents of Arce believed it as such, but Magnolia was likewise proposed on account of the flavor. Definitely not gelato, in case you decide to join in the chilly discussion.

While the actual ingredients will remain a mystery, it brings us joy to have discovered this cheap and “selfless” treat. One may argue that eating more than one serving cannot be deemed as gluttony but is in fact charity, and I couldn’t agree more. Eat more; share your blessings. Burp.

The Little Souls Church canteen also sells ice candy which my niece swears is fabulous (she had 2) and a mango float dessert that we never had the chance to sample. Next time perhaps.

Beat the Chill with Mochiko

Aside from this blessed treat, mochi-filled ice cream Mochiko seems to be quite a common sight in Tagaytay. With more branches in the south than in my own urban hood, this surely makes Tagaytay the salvation for summer.

Veering away from my favorite Green Tea, I went for the Yogurt with Strawberries in an effort to be “healthy” but this fruity faux pas made me miss out on my tea-rrific treat. Lesson learned.

Amen.

 

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S&R Splurge

If there’s one thing we don’t do at S&R, it’s shop. Well yeah, we buy chips and drinks once in a while, but if the S&R guys were to carefully plot our visits and purchases, they would find the strangest consumer item of preference: Pizza.

While we’ve been celebrating pizza nights at S&R for ages, which is highly possible with cheese, combo, pepperoni, shrimp and the seasonal barbecue chicken as rotating flavors, there is no such thing as getting “sick” of the place. With calzone and fries in the roster, it’s a place we might as well call our second home.

The cheese pizza on its own is screaming with golden cheesy sheen while the garlic and shrimp is seafood splendor that escalates it to my “craving” level.

Innovation is highly encouraged for those who want a poutine-inspired masterpiece. Fries on pizza, why not? I’m not as adventurous, and would just prefer to smother my slice with mustard and onions (which does not make a pretty photo, I tell you).

Someone’s hungry: Fries-topped Pizza

I’ve skipped the burgers and hotdogs phase, being an all-year Lenten diner, but with churros, fries and chicken rolls on the list, the place is becoming a better-than-fastfood joint. Heck, they’ve even got a sandwich bar and ice cream station (It’s Blue Bunny, so beat that) which recently added shakes and pastries on the chiller. Fabulous.

Shrimp Salad with onions on the side

What makes me doubly pleased is the addition of salad in their menu. While the Chicken Caesar Salad was a giant bowl of veggie delight (all great, except for the dressing), the Shrimp Salad was absolute enjoyment. A bit smaller in serving with about 6-8 shrimps, the salad is gratifying and amazingly improved by that wee slice of lemon. Refreshing, light and certainly agreeable even to the anti-vegetables, it makes a great siding to the hungry and a perfect meal to those like me – who consider dessert as part of the meal!

Dessert time meant visiting the actual store and raiding the chiller for something to-go worthy. 

Move over, Blue Bunny. Make way for Mudslide.

The choice was terrific: Tillamook Mudslide. Chunky chocolate swirls circled creamy chocolate ice cream. Forget EQ; despite its partially melted state, my mind urged me to dig in, and I did. No manners, no civilized utensils. All was forgiven in the presence of this dandy dessert.

Better start calling it (melted) Chocolate Fudge Ripple.

While it wasn’t a 100% mudslide, as I was looking for a hint of coffee, it was a perfect fudgy treat. More of a Chocolate Fudge Ripple. Now that’s more like it.

Next time we ought to try its Vanilla Flavor, unless S&R decides to re-stock on Klondike.

If that’s the case, bring out the coin.

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Mochiko = My Mochi


Whoever invented Mochiko named it perfectly. That fist-sized ice cream-filled mochi is great for a one-time snack, unfit for sharing and definitely meant to be finished single-handedly. Mochiko roughly translates to “my mochi” in Filipino. My Mochi, not ours, certainly not yours –  just mine.

Let us not lie to ourselves with that delusional thinking that we are selfless and giving. With the sight of this ball of mochi goodness, all those hopes of world peace and brotherhood are sure to dissipate, to be replaced by that inevitable gluttony that we’ve been harboring all this time.

Best to give in though, as it’s rather cheap at about P70 per serving. With an assortment of flavors (chocolate, vanilla, red bean, cookie dough, etc.) you can have a different flavor each day, or until your blood sugar spikes – then you might have to take a break from these sinful balls. Mindless choice for me was, of course, green tea – an unfounded hope for a lower calorie serving.

Surrounded by a thin layer of mildly sweet mochi, the label strongly advises us to let the ball thaw for a few minutes before we get those incisors working. Ever devious, I forced a bite, failed and ended up leaving teeth marks on that still-hardened ball. At least I can’t say I didn’t try.

Upon reaching the desired thawed state, another attempt was made on this unyielding green fellow and finally, success! I was getting impatient from walking around Eastwood Mall with this plastic ball in my hand, and it didn’t help that it was in this horrid shade of apple green.

The thin mochi layer uncovered the creamy goodness of still a perfect ball of green tea if cream. Each bite was a mixture of smooth ice cream with that slight tinge of sweetness and chewy bits from the mochi.

Best way to end any meal is by this ball of indulgence. Best way to burn the calories is to just walk it off as I did.

While I’m no follower of Mochiko, just in case someone asks, I’ve encountered these little balls of toothy mishap in Mercato Centrale, the Eastwood Weekend Market (at the Eastwood Mall) and Parvati (Trinoma, by the bulk).


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West Coast Series: Salads and Sweets

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Being a part-vegetarian tourist in the land of organic, Trader Joe’s and cereal, there was only one established mission:  To partake in 10 Salads. The possibilities and choices are endless, but also come with the sweet and sinful competition—where Ben & Jerry’s can come in close battle with Arugula.

Ending with a tally of 6 for the greens, leaving out the side salads and toppings which came in almighty abundance, I let the desserts fill the rest of the list. Not to be dismissed as the anti-thesis of salad, I deem them just as healthy in my overly biased eyes.

Salad Bowl, Chipotle Mexican Grill

Salad Bowl, Chipotle Mexican Grill

Mexican and Greek salads, my heavenly fares, made quite an impact on my palate that I will never view salad eating as a mere dieting scheme again. Chipotle on its own combines a zesty, sour-punch yet fresh flavor that is greatly enhanced by its colorful condiments: guacamole, jack cheese or even sour cream. Pico de gallo is plebeian knowledge and feta cheese is a fierce commodity. For me, these Mediterranean and Mexican fiestas combine gastronomic splendor and my ultimate enjoyment, as I return home tearful that such a brief exchange was too short lived.

Greek Salad with Chicken Shawarma, Chick Pita Mediterranean

Greek Salad with Chicken Shawarma, Chick Pita Mediterranean

Salads from Chipotle Mexican Grill and even the simple Chick Pita Mediterranean at the food court provided such organic and savory excellence, their tastes are forever carved in my mental palate and will serve as a lasting benchmark for future sampling. There is something very authentic and fantastic in the way they served their salad—not to mention the leviathan serving all for myself—that should I not find the same quality back home, it’s time I learned to prepare homemade guacamole!

BBQ chopped chicken salad Panera Bread

BBQ chopped chicken salad Panera Bread

Credits too for El Pollo Loco, which dished out a Grilled Chicken Salad that was flaming with Mexican goodness. If our local franchise served salads and condiments in that size and flavor, I’d be loca for Pollo Loco as well!

Caesar salad Bonnano MGM Hotel

Caesar salad Bonnano MGM Hotel

Greek Salad, Wraps @ Caesars Palace

Greek Salad, Wraps @ Caesars Palace

While the ice cream and yogurt did not present the same mixture of merriment and glee as the salads—or I just failed to visit the right places—they were just as amusing to eat and provided the necessary sugar high.

The cakes and cupcakes though, well, that’s a different story and in another post. Best to stay tuned then.

Cookies and Cream Yogurt, Mrs. Fields

Cookies and Cream Yogurt, Mrs. Fields

Sugar Free Chocolate Gelato, The Venetian

Sugar Free Chocolate Gelato, The Venetian

Yogurt Parfait and Oatmeal and Raisin Cookies, McDonald's

Yogurt Parfait and Oatmeal and Raisin Cookies, McDonald’s

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Ciao Gelato

Show me another frozen yogurt stand, and get ready for a barrage of not-too-pleasant banter, with resonating words like uncreative, mainstream, and so yesterday. Indeed, froyo is so 2010. It’s time to revert and find folly in the good ol’ classics, in ice cream and more specifically, gelato.

Before any verbal insurgency starts to label me as old-fashioned, bear in mind that the gelato I’m talking about isn’t the usual fat laden and tooth-decay-sweet that once kept our hippies plump. Today’s gelato is almost fat free, comes in more exotic and adventurous flavors and is available in sugar or dairy free versions. Our generation brings bliss to those harboring the unquenchable sweet tooth, and gelato can easily kick froyo out of the top spot in the almost-healthy dessert list.

A fact deliberately ignored: frozen yogurt comes with sugar and cream and almost always, the toppings are an inevitable companion to ward off the sourness that most Filipinos hate, and will never learn to love. But gelato is au natural delight—tastes superb on its own, with no need for extra toppings, cones or that repulsive whipped cream.

Gelatissimo, for example, offers 90 to 97% fat free creations, sorbet, sugar free and dairy flavors and a rotating assortment that includes quite an interesting number such as Pannacotta, Pineapple, Rum and Raisin, Apple Pie, Truffle, Hazelnut, Green Tea and Lemon Cheesecake. The list is endless, and for a scoop (P110) or two (P160), a gastronomic feeling of astonishment and sweet fill can make us forget frozen yogurt was ever born. PETA-approved dairy-free dark chocolate is a universal favorite, while flavors with a hint of liquor can surely draw in the mature crowd. Mind you, my dad went for the Rum and Raisin and ordered that ever since. Not even the lure of Hazelnut could change his mind.

Italian favorite Affogato makes a heartening treat, complete with the lush tray, while fruity flavors (lemon, lime, strawberry, raspberry, etc) will make a dieter’s best friend with their low calorie content. I can probably go on about every flavor, but there’s just one thing I want to say: Why go on a monotonous froyo binge when you can enjoy an adventurous feast with gelato flavors? If you’re going to be spending the same amount anyway and ingest the same amount of calories/sugar, just go for the real thing.

Once spotted in its corner spot in Greenbelt 5, Gelatissimo has found (not so) new homes in Serendra and TriNoma (just fabulous). Now, we northern folks can expand our territorial choices, which were once composed of just Cara Mia, Stick House, Sebastian’s and of course, the ubiquitous froyo stands.

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Meatless Picks at Amici

Finding decent and delectable vegan fares in Manila can be quite the challenge. Ask about the meat content of a particular dish and watch the waiter’s brows go up the high heavens. Continue to probe on the matter and be the talk of the entire kitchen, amidst steaming noodles and filleting knives.

Is that the one?

Oh yes, I am that weird, annoying girl who can’t shut up about meat.

Indeed, I live to pester the lives of Manila’s predominantly carnivorous food industry. After all, you do the same to me.

Manila’s meat-eating hoity toity is one tough force to crack, so rather than rally against your beefy staunchness, I’ve decided to revel in the miniscule meals I find greatly edible. Case in point: AMICI.

Amici’s vastly diverse menu can serve and feed every type of personality in Manila. I’ve found extreme enjoyment in discovering pizza and pasta that are edible, tasty and rather affordable. Not to oily or doughy and devoid of any form of animal, La Vegetariana (3-cheese and roasted veggies) is the ultimate treat for any vegan gourmand. It boasts not of meaty goodness but rather a light, crisp and roasted gastronomic satisfaction that can certainly get a nod from any veggie lover.

La Vegetariana with Parmesan and Chili

Sharing the spotlight on this vegan fare is the Fettucine al Tartufo Classico (Truffle Oil, Button and Shiitake Mushrooms). Bask on the simple flavor of this dish, and let the truffle oil lends its “oomph” factor to this new favorite. Since truffle oil has been winding its way to fries and pizzas, topping it on a classic Fettucine can never go wrong.

Fettucine al Tartufo Classico

Dessert is a luxury that one can afford, and Amici’s rows of colorful gelato flavors are too troublesome to ignore. Hazelnut and Oreo are flavors we might as well do without. Seen everywhere, from grocery snack packs to shakes and cafes, we’re better off with something fruity, light and promising: Mango Jubilee. Sweet, creamy and packed with mucho mango, no wonder it’s named as such. 

Mango Jubilee

Craving for something with a flurry of flavors? The gelato cake can certainly fill that urge. Banana Blast (P110/slice) combines chocolate and strawberry gelato with a banana base and chocolate crust. Each bites is a medley of flavors and textures, and by the time you finish the slice, you’d have banished a month-long craving for dessert.

Banana Blast

It is certainly gratifying to find local spots that offer vegetarian-friendly fares and don’t shun us with an all-meat menu fiasco. Of course for the meat lovers, Amici is just as, if not more so, appealing with its wide range of meaty (read: Prosciutto) pastas and savory pizzas.

Feast away!

Prosciutto e Funghi Pizza

Lasagna

Tutta Carne Pizza


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Tea-totaler’s Top 10: Ode to Tea and Woe to Faux


Almost everyone confesses to having a drinking addiction. The Dionysus dudes, Juice junkies and Cola chuggers—they’re all out there, easy to spot with their choice drink in hand. It’s nearly impossible to avoid the addiction with the barrage of colorful and fruity beverages unabashedly making their way in our TV screens and heads.

What’s so strange is that I’ve decided to join the bandwagon. Might as well have a pet drink—a much better conversation starter than “How’s the weather?”

“Pleased to meet you, Java Joe. I’m Groovin’ Green Tea. Want some?”

My (incomplete) Tea Shrine

Well that was bloody pathetic, but you get the picture. Tea is such a remarkable drink of choice, and I often wonder why many people pass up this wonderful creation that is served for free in most Asian restaurants. What a waste.

I’m not going to preach on the benefits of tea, as there must be millions of sites and commercials that dwell on the said topic. Hence, this tea sage has decided to spill some bits of personal and novel insight (some of which you may already know) spawned from this love affair with Tea. I may not be British but I do keep a tea shrine (a glorified way of referring to the pantry), always prepared and well stocked for any spontaneous tea party.

Who knows when the Mad Hatter might be knocking any time?

 

Well then, enough with the name-calling and whatnot, let’s proceed with the Top 10:

1. DON’T GET PLASTIC ON ME

No, it's not what you think.

The sugary, flavor-infused bottled tea drinks in the market aren’t necessarily Tea. Call them juice, fruity drinks but surely they cannot be classified as tea alone. Why, even iced tea is faux tea, with its composition of nearly 90% sugar. My point is that to qualify as tea, the drink better taste like one! You know, the grassy-herby flavor that is bland or mildly sweetened—now that’s tea. Sadly, the organic pungency is what most manufacturers try to mask with sweetener, juice and more sugar. Not only is the flavor tainted, even the health benefits are thrown down the drain as the calories and fat pile up. Just because it says “Made with green tea leaves” does not make it an authentic tea experience.

If you’re a true tea lover, ditch the plastic and dip in the tea bag! Go for the bottle, and settle for being a tea mistress.

2. FIND YOUR NEW MORNING MATCH-A.

Green tea (Matcha in Japanese) makes the best morning pick-me-up, as a healthier alternative to the traditional cup of joe and a great complement to pancakes. Not only does it contain reasonable amounts of caffeine, it also gets your digestive gears running early in the morning. Now that’s just the same effect as a fiber blast with 0 calories. A teabag of Lipton Green Tea goes a long way, and downing another cup after lunch ensures a post-meal perk without the caffeine OD.

Ditch the Java. Here are your new morning buddies.

3. GRAB A TEAPOT AND GEAR UP WITH GENMAICHA.

What better way to enjoy a fabulous cup of tea than to brew it yourself! Get a bag of Matcha (green tea) or Genmaicha (green tea with roasted brown rice) and enjoy authentic goodness in a ceramic cup. Let the leaves seep longer and savor a richer and fuller blend—an acquired taste but well worth the wait. Genmaicha is an all-time favorite; the brown rice creates such a splendid brew that goes best with Japanese cuisine, or anything for that matter!

4. GO OOH WITH OOLONG.

Often overlooked, Oolong Tea can be a handy lifesaver especially after a major binge. It falls in between its famous cousins green and black tea in terms of caffeine content, flavor and oxidation level. Not to be dissed as merely so-so, oolong is regarded highly in China because of its fat burning potential among its other health benefits. Too bad in the Philippines only Gold Leaf produces this flavorful tea. A rare brand, Jin Ling, is spotted on occasion, but with green tea’s mass campaign, oolong is left to be enjoyed in the Chinese restaurants. Not a bad proposition, since it goes well with buchi!

5. CALM DOWN WITH CHAMOMILE.

Need sleep?

While green tea works best during the day, simmer down your hefty dinner with Chamomile Tea. Not only does it aid in digestion, it also calms down your nerves and enables a good night’s sleep. Take it solo or with a peppermint fusion and feel yourself getting lulled to sleep after a killer meal.

Forget green tea after 3pm; go for Chamomile’s flowery brew to let your day end with a does of tranquility, not hyperactivity. Best finds in the country are Marks and Spencer and Twinings.  Insomnia plaguing you as well? Have a cup of Celestial Seasonings’ Sleepytime Herbal Tea and you’ll be snoozing in no time.

6. PAINT THE TOWN WHITE.

White Tea is a rather exceptional find but with very exceptional qualities. It trumps green tea in the health aspects and tones down on the caffeine level. Perfect for this insomniac! Last I checked, only Celestial Seasonings offers White Tea in the market. Will mass market producer Lipton come up with such? Pretty please, with steam on the top!

Note: Lipton in the US has Tea To Go, artificially sweetened and flavored green or white tea in powdered form, which could perhaps be my holy grail in sinfully flavored faux tea. In the Philippines, nothing has come close to this tea-riffic variant, yet.

7. GO GREEN.

When will we ever find these in the Philippines?

Green tea’s spill-over in the food and cosmetics industries is so immense it’s created a niche on its own. Consider the following curious concoctions, some of which have become mainstream favorites: ice cream (FIC, Arce, Haagen Dazs), Frozen Yogurt (Red Mango and Tutti Frutti), frappuccino and latte (Starbucks, Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf and Bo’s Coffee, to name a few), soba noodles (typical in Japan but about to be in the Philippines), perfume (Green Tea by Elizabeth Arden), soymilk (Lactasoy), soaps, toners and creams (Etude House and Watsons, among others), supplements (Fitrum, etc.), candies, chocolates (Meiji and Kitkat), mochi and cakes (Dezato and Bread Talk).

Can’t wait for the next roll out of green tea-based goodies! I do hope it’s pasta noodles, cookies or granola bars!

Best. Chocolate. Ever.

8. FEAST ON THE FAVORITES.

Of course not all green tea derived products are to die for. Some project a healthy and “going green” image but forego all the health benefits, and I’m not a sucker for those fakers.

Here are my Top 3 faves, the green tea goods that will make you go googly-eyed:

  • Frappuccino – I’m not a coffee person, so flavors like Mocha, Espresso or even Hazelnut have no appeal to me. Bring in the Matcha Frap and no diet is spared. Sure it can be fattening if taken everyday, but the pleasure factor beats every pragmatic thought being sent by the brain. Just think about it: It’s got green tea, it’s creamy and yes, we won’t be getting brown stains on our teeth after a grande sized serving.
  • Chocolate – I love Green Tea flavored Kit Kat so match-a it gives dark chocolate major competition in the comfort food department. Sadly enough, my stash from Japan is nearing the red line. Anyone visiting Japan soon? Hint, hint.
  • Ice Cream/Mochi – Ice cream already is the ultimate dessert, by default. Bring on the green tea flavor, and it becomes the undisputed choice. Go the extra mile by reaching for the ice cream-mochi medley and you’re set for life. No kidding. Green tea ice cream of FIC is already a wonderful freezer staple, and Mercato Centrale’s green tea ice cream mochi is well worth the travel to Bonifacio High Street on an early weekend.

9. FORGET THE FRIVOLOUS.

Not even green tea’s perfect. Even the world’s favorite tea has its share of disappointing derivatives. I’ve listed 3:

  • Iced Tea – Iced Tea (aka sugar with a wee bit of tea) veers away from the healthy drink segment by dishing out more sugar than a slice of cake. With novel add-ons including lemon or apple flavor, sugar, aspartame or even sparkling water, the tea has evolved into something monstrously unhealthy and is fast approaching the nutritional content of a can of cola.
  • Eye Roll-on – A world-renowned cosmetics brand decided to infuse green tea into the formulation of their eye roll-on. Like most eye therapy thingamajigs, it fails to perform as promised. But unlike those other eye thingamajigs, the blame here goes to green tea. Next time, why don’t we just sleep early?
  • Cake – Ah yes, if there’s anything that would be a splendid match for tea, it would be a green tea cake (obviously). Sprinkled with matcha powder and infused with the same grassy essence, this should be every tea drinker’s dream. Unfortunately, Dezato’s and Bread Talk’s Green Tea Cakes are a letdown for this cake lover. Not only do they taint the integrity of the tea, the cakes are uninspired and scream mediocrity that we’d rather pass on these well-packaged pastries. Next!

10. BLACK OUT.

Black Tea is the most common tea in the world and is basically the composition of every glass of iced tea, unless otherwise stated. Lipton lives by this tea, as well as most local brands. Black is actually similar to Green Tea, with the exception of some technical terms that we can do without.

If you want a conversation starter though, you can go with: Hey, did you know that black tea has the most caffeine content in the tea family? Which is the very reason why iced tea is every insomniac’s nemesis especially if taken during dinner—yours truly a constant victim.

While I am not entirely against black tea—which has fueled the economy with its mass market goods, bravo—it has become a cliché drink that needs a serious makeover. With innovation and competition abound in the business arena, when will I ever hear something like, “One sugar free, iced white tea with natural raspberry flavor for the Lazy Black Cat?” Hope to hear that in the next 9 lives.

 

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