AT THE TEA TABLE – GAIL OF THYME & TEAK

Bookmark this website if you answer “yes” to the question about desserts. Gail is the blogger and food photographer for Teak & Thyme. She is based in Vancouver, BC and enjoys making desserts. Her desserts will not only satisfy your sweet tooth, but they might also satisfy your tea cravings if one of her baked goods is infused with tea. Gail and I sat at the tea table and talked about our weekly dim sum meals, introducing us to tea, top teas for baking and practical baking tips.

This is what I love to drink at night when I’m reading blogs or reading a book. It’s simple and comforting.

Tea is a favourite evening drink of mine. What is your history with tea?

My grandparents and my family used to take me to dim sum restaurants every week as a child.

Before you sat down, the server would ask what type of tea you preferred. My mom would ask for Pu-erh Chinese tea or Iron Buddha, depending on the day.

It was one of these that I had my first cup of tea. Although I didn’t know the names of teas at that time, I was familiar with the basic routine. It hasn’t changed since then! A pot of tea would then be brought to your table.

It was too bitter for me when I was young, so I always drank it with the hot water from the other side of the table.

I found that I preferred my tea stronger as I grew older. My favourite way to drink tea is the strongest one that has been steeped.

There were also many unspoken rules that tea-lovers had to follow, such as tapping the table when someone fills your cup and leaving the lid open when you want the server to refill it.

I am reminded of Chinese restaurants and family when I smell strong tea and hear the clinking of porcelain tableware.

Suppose you have only three teas you want to keep forever. What are your favourite teas?

It would need to be earl grey, oolong and matcha for baking and drinking.

I love their distinct, strong flavour, and they work well with other flavours of baked goods. There are many options.

All three teams are good for me, but I prefer matcha and earl grey for baking. The oolong can be a bit too strong depending on the bake.

Please share your worst baking experience. Are there any epic recipes that failed?

All of my worst failures have probably to do with macarons.

Macarons can be difficult to make, especially if you are a beginner. I learned this the hard way. After baking, my first batches became sticky puddles, and it took many attempts to get them right.

Other messy failures included batter that exploded or leaked from the pan during baking and dripped to the bottom.

The room started to burn and get smoky, but I couldn’t clean it up as my stuff was still baking. It was so bad that the fire alarm went off; all I could do was watch the smoke fill the room and hope it didn’t ignite.

A few strawberry meringue macarons or a mini-lemon meringue tart would be a good pairing with strong earl grey tea.

Strawberry and lemon are two of my favourite fruity flavours. They’re easy to find and always taste great. These pairings make it so easy to imagine that I’d enjoy them in Paris.

What would you tell someone who approached you to get your best baking advice?

Practice makes progress. Baking was not my strongest skill, which stressed me out initially.

You’ll better understand the consistency of various batters and combinations the more you practice it. You will improve your skills and be able to troubleshoot problems when they occur.

Choose one type of baking you are interested in learning, such as cakes and tarts. Spend at least three months learning new recipes or one that you’re comfortable with.

These recipes are only a guide.

Many factors can impact your baked goods, including user error, ovens and timing, pan material, altitude, and even the material of your pans.

If you don’t have one, get one. This is mainly for Americans who use cups to measure.

It is easier to weigh your ingredients accurately and in a consistent way. It is the most cost-effective way to improve your baking skills.

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Tea

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