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Your Tea Starter Kit: 5 Great Teas to Kick Off an Obsession

The road to drinking great tea, even at its most simple, gets complicated fast. On the one hand, you need some thorough guides to navigate the overwhelming diversity of styles, growing regions, and cultivars to have some sense of what you're drinking. But on the other hand, you just need to start drinking some damn tea. Here are five great ones to get you started. More

How to Develop Your Tea-Tasting Palate

Do you remember how, when you first started drinking beer or wine, it all tasted more or less the same? Eventually you figured out which beers were more or less bitter, or what lies beyond those fruity grape flavors. And after a while you picked out a few styles that you really enjoyed. It's the same with tea. Developing a palate for it takes time—and practice. More

Your Ultimate Guide to Chinese Food in NYC

The are hundreds of Chinese restaurants in New York City, and they're only getting better. That's why I've compiled over 60 restaurant recommendations for destination-worthy Chinese restaurants, noodle- and dumpling-making experts, brunch-ready dim sum, quick, delicious snacks, and then some. More

The Non-Judgmental Guide to Getting Seriously Into Tea

Every year I'm left in the lurch wondering when tea will get its due. Delicious, ubiquitous, nourishing, gently stimulating, and rich with history and lore, to say nothing of glossy tools to drop money on, tea has everything you could want in an obsession-worthy drink. Here's why I'm so into it, and why I think you should be too. More

How Ful Mudammas Made Me Forget All About Hummus

Let's talk about ful (pronounced "fool") for a minute, because you might find you like it even more than hummus. Where the chickpea is a wan wallflower, the fava is proudly, robustly funky. And with its mashed-up beans and rich broth, ful takes common ingredients like cumin, garlic, and tahini to bolder places than hummus ever could. More

The Fastest, Freshest, Fluffiest Ice Cream Ever: 30-Minute Philadephia-Style Ice Cream

Most of the work in ice cream revolves around those egg yolks. Take them out of the recipe and you have an ice cream that doesn't need any time on the stovetop. And if your milk and cream are fridge-cold, you won't even need to chill your base. That means fresh ice cream whenever you want it, with ingredients you probably already have at home, and the easiest ice cream recipe you'll ever make. More

The Better Fruitcake: Baking Stollen at NYC's Bien Cuit Bakery

"It's like a yeasted fruitcake with all of the good stuff and none of the bad," says baker Zachary Golper of his best-in-class stollen. It's a dense, buttery loaf perfumed with citrus zest, orange blossom, and rum. The crumb is stuffed with a delicate almond cream, and the whole thing is "baptized" after baking in a bath of clarified butter, then finished with powdered sugar as fluffy as the season's first snowfall. More

Your Tea Starter Kit: 5 Great Teas to Kick Off an Obsession

@Steven Totally, and cheaper, too.

@banzai I don't but would like to some day!

Where to Buy Amazing Tea Online

@NateHevens I haven't done a cross-vendor gyokuro tasting comparison so I can't point out a particular favorite, but "best" is a really personal question, and there are different styles of gyokuro like anything else. I'd suggest you keep trying samples and see what you like most, and don't worry about getting one that's objectively the "highest quality." Also try brewing each sample a few different times before passing judgment on it. Sometimes a brew might be off, or you might be in a weird headspace, or you ate something that affected your palate. When you're just starting out, the only way to decide if a tea is right for you (and priced for your budget) is to keep tasting wide across samples and deep within them.

Tencha is shade-grown like gyokuro but usually processed into matcha. It may be worth trying for curiosity, but whether it's worth that price to you is something only you can answer (I haven't tried that particular tea). That said, it's priced at about $1.60 per gram, which is pretty darn high even in the realm of high-end Japanese greens. The Japanese vendors here offer more competitive prices without the Orientalist ad copy.

For the Deepest, Darkest Chocolate Ice Cream, Add Cocoa Nibs

@BrooklynBabette There are many, many free bookmarking services out there that we recommend with way more features than our recipe-saving button had. And every web browser has the exact same capability built right in.

For the Deepest, Darkest Chocolate Ice Cream, Add Cocoa Nibs

@scalfin I don't think I'm ragging on Hershey's; I just think it serves a better purpose as a vehicle for milk chocolate. Can you share what medium the Cook's team used for this test? What type of flavor they were going for? Were they looking for a dessert as dark, fruity, and bitter as this? Hershey's unsweetened may be a fine general purpose chocolate—their cocoa has many uses at 1/4 the price of Valrhona—but it's not the best for this kind of recipe.

As for carob, I wouldn't recommend it—it'll add carob flavors, not chocolate ones. Re: cocoa butter, virtually all cocoa butter is deodorized to be flavorless, so it wouldn't add anything to the ice cream. And the amount of fat you'd be replacing by going from whole milk to skim would be minimal considering the amount of cocoa butter already in the recipe in the form of chocolate.

The Darkest Dark Chocolate Ice Cream

@lil_brown_bat I tested out some higher butterfat versions and the resulting ice cream was way too thick to eat, more like frozen ganache frosting. All-milk gets you a scoop that's full flavored and plenty creamy but not overwhelming.

For the Deepest, Darkest Chocolate Ice Cream, Add Cocoa Nibs

@lil_brown_bat Spent cocoa nibs get too soft and boiled peanut-like to make good mix-ins. If you want nibs embedded in the ice cream, I'd use fresh ones.

@VeganWithaYoYo Gonna put that one under Probably Will Not Suck. My bigger concern is fat content—coconut cream may be overboard in this case. Notice the recipe here has no cream.

For the Deepest, Darkest Chocolate Ice Cream, Add Cocoa Nibs

@karen Thanks for pointing that out! Silly mistake of mine. I've updated the text.

The Best Gin for a Martini

@Kathemenos We tasted many more gins than what appears here. These are our top five rankings. I think that's clear if you read the story.

Why Great Tea Doesn't Come Cheap: Digging Into the High Mountain Economy

@Dbyerlee Thanks for that article! It may be more accurate to say that producers of Western tea, big and small scale, both operate with the same commodity market in place, and thus prioritize efficiency over quality. They feature the same processing techniques, the same itinerant pickers, and the same auction markets that make wholesale prices pretty standard. I'd also argue that the prominence of the large estates sets the tone of business for most of the smaller ones as well.

Why Great Tea Doesn't Come Cheap: Digging Into the High Mountain Economy

@Matthew Thanks, and absolutely agree. I figure the "cost per serving" calculation has been done enough times that I didn't want to include it here, but a good point to make. At the office I typically drink one batch all day long.

This Week at Serious Eats World Headquarters

@Katie @Joe Stella's been working on her book, which unfortunately sucks up a lot of time. But I'm betting you haven't heard the last of her. (And the book's gonna be AWESOME.)

This Week at Serious Eats World Headquarters

@Ocean Nothing fancy, just the dishwasher plus communal elbow grease.

Staff Picks: The Pantry Staples We Can't Live Without

@AndroidUser Wouldn't YOU like to know. Fixed, thanks.

For the Best Oatmeal Pancakes, Toast Your Oats and Brown Your Butter

Looks like cloud-to-butt was being a cloudhead. Fixed, thanks all!

How to Develop Your Tea-Tasting Palate

@maztec Ask and you shall receive. That post is more geared towards mass-market tea than the fine stuff, but the general points are universal.

Hey Chef, What Can I Do With Sichuan Peppercorns?

Hey! We have an old roundup of more traditional Sichuan peppercorn recipes for a primer. It's old, though, so we've put an updated guide on our docket, which will bring in recipes like this awesome mapo tofu.

How to Develop Your Tea-Tasting Palate

@maztec Have you tried diluted bleach?

How to Develop Your Tea-Tasting Palate

@protorp Right with you. Mostly an oolong drinker here, but when I'm looking for a digestive aid after a heavy meal and don't want to devote two hours to an aged pu-erh, good genmaicha hits the spot.

@Rosaleen Yellow sugar is made with some molasses, right? (Sorry, ignorant Yankee.) That'll definitely be aromatic in tea, but it's not an aroma enhancer, and neither is unflavored sugar. Maybe she just really likes the taste of molasses.

How to Develop Your Tea-Tasting Palate

@moglichkeiten I'm by no means an expert on Yixing clay pots, but I think that point is debatable. It may be the case with priceless antiques that are hundreds of years old and never used to make tea anymore, but a practical pot that sees even irregular use gets plenty of water splashed on it, inside and out, just through the normal steps of making tea and cleaning the pot.

To directly answer @Rainbow Unicorn's question, in some tea-making processes hot water is poured over the outside of the pot to "bake" particular types of leaves—dry, no water inside yet—which some say makes their flavor more palatable. That's what was happening at this tea-tasting at a teahouse in Singapore. I think the practical value of this baking is questionable at best and is generally not necessary. But I did like the photo.

How to Clean Out Your Spice Cabinet and Organize it—for Good

@fwilger There's always some residual "spice" aroma that's more or less unavoidable, but rice works best for me.

How to Clean Out Your Spice Cabinet and Organize it—for Good

@Kenji MAYBE YOU SHOULD EAT MORE HERRING. But yeah, also a big fan of the deli containers.

@Ms Kerr This is really Martha, but lots of dried herbs are nice when wrapped in cheesecloth and put in the backs of closets, drawers, etc. Turmeric also makes a really nice tonic with ginger or ginseng, honey, hot water, and the like.

How to Clean Out Your Spice Cabinet and Organize it—for Good

@selyar As always, the best home-organization practice is to live alone or Be The Boss.

@Tyler Jackson It might help, but the problem with short-lived spices is evaporation and dissipating essential oils, which even air-tight seals can only help so much.

@elangomatt The important thing to keep in mind re: containers is shutting out light and air. I use mostly glass jars but in a closed cabinet.

@hat19 You can certainly freeze as long as there's no moisture that would get into the spices. But if I froze my bulk spices I'd probably a) forget they're in the freezer, and b) fill up freezer space quickly. Would rather buy small amounts and use them up more quickly.

@ExNYer in SF Cop out answer, but have you considered making your own? Most blends are easy to figure out with some trial and error, and it's a lot of fun. Agree with you that salt shouldn't go in a spice blend.

This Week at Serious Eats World Headquarters

Yup, there were more posts in the past, but we've found that by dramatically decreasing the number of posts we run a week we can focus more on higher quality features. The strategy seems to be working well; unique visitors to the site have doubled in the past year.

@joe ho On hiatus but not dead. Baker Max has been swamped, well, baking at his day job, but keep an eye out for more stories in the future.

Vegan Mint Chip Ice Cream

@NorrinRazael I wouldn't recommend it. For one, it'll add lots of molasses flavor you don't want. Corn syrup is also only 1/3rd as sweet as sucrose and it has superior texture-building properties—it adds more body and chew.

Beyond English Breakfast: An Introduction to the World's Great Teas

@purplenoon Oolongs are grown everywhere, particularly Taiwan (and the ones there trace ancestry to Chinese varieties), but you raise a good point. Pollution and water are big problems in Chinese agriculture, tea included, but that's also true in some other tea-growing regions. It's particularly an issue for teas grown near large cities; more remote regions fare a little better.

This is why I think it's so vital to know your tea vendor and for them to know where, exactly, their tea is coming from. Good farmers treat their land and tea well, and good vendors seek those people out. I have a recommended vendor list here with a bunch of oolong specialists to get you started.

Dulces: Arroz con Leche (Rice Pudding)

I couldn't help but think of the stereotypical fiery Latin temperament when I was making this recipe. Arroz con leche (riz au lait or rice pudding), is such a languid, drowsy, gentle thing, so tender it's even suitable for those with smooth gums and weak constitutions, and yet, it is among the most well-liked and frequently made desserts throughout Latin America. Maybe we're all bark and no bite. More

How to Buy, Store, Use (and Re-Use!) Spices

It continues to baffle me how little attention is given to spices today. Maybe it's because we're told to eat local (they rarely are) or organic (they're usually not). Spices seem to still have a reputation of being slapdash cover-ups for mediocre chicken—and far too often they are—but they don't have to be. Yes, spice hunting requires a little time, effort, and money (though less than you think), but once you start using fresh spices in you're cooking, you may just find yourself addicted. More