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Who’ll remember the Monday blues when you’ve got #matchamonday? – Matcha workshop at the Tsujiri Matcha House

Nestled in a quiet corner of Soho is the home of all things matcha – desserts, lattes, chocolate, you name it! This place is otherwise known as the Tsujiri Matcha House.

*Fun fact: they’ve been around for over 160 years, passing down the business from generation to generation, and their dedication to good quality matcha remains consistent.

https://www.happycow.net/reviews/tsujiri-matcha-house-london-192962#i=816570

A few Saturdays ago, at about 8:45am (yes on a saturday!) I made the 45 minute journey to Tsujiri’s (vegan) pop-up shop on Rupert Street, Soho to learn more about matcha.

With this being my first time at the house, I was pleasantly surprised by the cosiness and homely feel of the shop. With several bar stools and a table top resembling the kind you’d find in your kitchen, this ‘house’ felt much like a home.

Despite my 5 minute late arrival, I was welcomed by Chin, matcha tea-cher for the day! He got us all to I introduce ourselves, to catch me up to speed, and he began explaining the set-up.

Grades of matcha

First off, Chin began by showing us a selection of various grades of matcha.

A noticeable difference here was the hue of green. From one end to the other, we could see an increase in the vibrancy of the matcha. He then went on to explain the difference between the grades e.g. the ceremonial grade and how this differs from the premium, to culinary etc. With this, he also explained why some matcha i.e. ceremonial is more expensive than say the culinary grade kind.

Tools needed to make the perfect matcha

Next up, we were shown the chasen (ceramic whisking bowl) used to whisk the powder, and the chaksuka (bamboo whisk) used to whisk the powder and water together.

Chin wanted us to get used to the motion of whisking first, before dealing with the good stuff. And here you can see his demonstration:

5 Matcha (trade) secrets he shared:

If there’s one thing Chin wanted to clear up in this workshop, it was a number of popularly accepted, shared and believed tips in the matcha community, and I will be sharing a few of those with you today.

#1: Water – your water doesn’t need to be 80 degrees Celsius before using it. In fact, he suggests the water you use is boiling hot because by the time you’ll have whisked the powder, the temperature would’ve reduced

#2: Softer H2O On the topic of water, he recommended 2 types of water that are softer than the one we get from our taps here in London, one of which is Waitrose essentials and the other…you’ll have to visit his next workshop to find out!

#3: To sieve or not? – There is a difference between sieved and unsieved matcha, and this is evident in its airiness and flavour.

#4: Right method of whisking the traditional way to whisk your matcha, is, as seen in video below, all in the whisk and wrist. And to be really traditional, you are to extend your chasen and

#5: when whisking your matcha, the whisk shouldn’t touch the bottom of the bowl, otherwise you won’t be able to fill the mixture with as much air.

All in all, I must say, the early start was well worth it, and the information shared was . And becuase i know some will question the validity of the tips shared, I will add that Chin trained as a wine sommelier and is also a tea sommelier, so he’s very much legit. One thing i was particularly fond of, was his willingness to share the information he’s acquired over the years. As someone who seeks to set the rcord straight, i hope to have a sit down interview/chat with Chin once again to pick his brain on all things tea (or matcha, for the time being).

Here’s a montage of the day:

If you enjoyed this post and read until the end, then leave a like below or comment on my latest Instagram post: “tea-cher”!

And until the next event (which is very soon),

Happy Sipping,

Bola

So everyone's talking New Year's resolution, but who's talking about the when, the how, the now?

Now that we’ve had a week and then some to acknowledge and ‘believe’ that we’re really in 2020, lets jump right in to today’s Single Word Sunday.

So it’s a new decade and with this comes the all-expected excitement and newfound inspiration to do things differently, and get it right. Whether it’s the goal of starting a business, getting in the gym or improving our vocabulary, we are urged to take a stand and change the way we do things.

And granted, we all (at one point or another) will give into the hype. So much so, the cliché response to making a new years resolution is that’ll last no longer than 2 weeks.

And though this is the expected response year in year out, the least you can do (differently this year) is to write it down and make it plain.

And I say this because, from personal experience, the reason I never keep to whatever it is that are working towards, is due to a lack of a goal. And while I have no scientific research or experiments to ‘prove’ this, I think we can also learn from our experiences and encourage you step back and take a look at the things you’ve had as goals, and those you haven’t. If you happen to be one of the people whereby spontaneity has gotten you this far, then props to you, but we aren’t all wired that way.

And that’s okay.

But if you take nothing away from today, let it be this word – GOAL.

Chances are you too have seen (and heard) that ‘this year is your year’, or the ‘get your 2020 HD vision right’ and while this is all good and well (for the most part), come February many of us will do one of 2 things:

1) recycle our new year new me/new year new habits status and ‘re-start’ the year

2) give up on the dream altogether either due to lack of motivation or

But how about we skip to that part now?

Greg S. Reid said it well when he said:

“A dream written down with a date becomes a goal,

A goal broken down into steps becomes a plan,

A plan backed up by action makes your dream comes true.”

“A dream written down with a date becomes a goal, A goal broken down into steps becomes a plan, A plan backed up by action makes your dream comes true.”

As an English major, I just want to point out how each line starts with a verb, signalling to some sort of action. Here, it’s written, broken and backed up. To put it plainly, to achieve your dreams and meet your goals requires action and effort.

It’s simply not enough to just write them down. Though it’s a step in the right direction, it goes without saying that the plan needs to be coupled with action for it to work.

I remember (in my younger years, not that I’m that much older but before I was an official adult) I would think keeping all my ideas and plans in my head was an effective way of ‘managing’ them but I thank the Lord for growth because this was simply inefficient, for more reasons than we’ll get into today.

Naturally, we will want to offer all our excuses under the sun, or will choose not to exert any action once we can visualise the steep incline ahead of us, but babies don’t just up and walk do they? That’s why the baby step stage exists.

Taking a step (in the right direction) is a key ingredient to making progress. If we chose to start instead of:

-procrastinating

-doing nothing due to fear

-waiting for the ‘perfect’ conditions to take action

Imagine how much closer to the finish line (of the end goal) we’d get?

Now I understand that may be are more than a few things that can hold us back when starting something we’ve never approached before, more often than not our mindset plays a role.

So with that, I encourage you to start thinking with the start mindset.

Start

Taking

A

Right

Turn

Till the next SWS (in Feb),

Bola

Tea and Cake event with GBBO’s Benjamina – ‘The new way to cake’ book launch

The Islington store of Crabtree and Evelyn

Hosted by Benjamina Ebuehi, held in Crabtree and Evelyn’s Islington branch and a goodie bag gifted by Nielsen Massey, it’s safe to say that the first tea related event Ive attended was a success!

As I made my way to the bustling side of Angel, Islington and arrive at the store front at a prompt 6:00pm, the entrance of the well-lit store set the tone for the evening.

Following the initial greetings, I take a quick video and get settled in for a well-anticipated evening ahead.

Spread of cakes served at the event

As I stood in line waiting to get my cup of tea, I exchange a smile with a guy with glasses in the corner who I noticed had already greeted and spoke to Benjamina. This initially piqued my curiosity as I wondered how they knew one another – which I later learned of. I didn’t voice this, of course, however we said our ‘Hi’s’ and got to chatting.

I asked him a simple question, which, little did I know, was the opening to a can of worms that’d get the ball rolling which was, “what’s your baking story?” And the conversation just flowed from there. He’s actually a recipe developer and baker too, you can check out his work here.

As we all settled into our seats, and the host made her way to the front, she welcomed us all and got to giving a brief of the book and what she hopes it’s able to achieve. With this in procession, I was delighted by the accompaniment of a slice of the masala chai carrot cake, along with a freshly brewed cup of black English Breakfast tea. And if this cake is anything to go by, the recipes of this book are sure to be home runs!

After sharing the background of getting the book published, the floor opened up for questions and I ask, “you mentioned you don’t have a favourite cake, so if you had to describe yourself as a cake, which would you be?” She smiles, squints her eyes and responds with ‘that’s a really good question, I’ve never been asked that before’. She goes on to pick out flavours she’s fond of which include the following:

– White chocolate which is smooth, and to mellows things

– Pistachio for it’s bounce

– A spice of some sort

Though multiple home bakers were present, it seemed to be the consensus that many felt stretched for time and as though their schedule had stifled their desire to bake. However, if there was one thing I heard many attendees mention by the end of the evening, it was how this meet encouraged them to pick baking back up again.

In sharing her Bake Off experience and the year-long gruelling process of trying, testing, jotting, photographing and eventually publishing her recipe book, she also admits ‘it was hard and tiring, but I’d do it all over again’. Benjamina’s reveal of the intensive nature and reality of juggling your passion/hobby with work, priorities and life in general, though difficult is possible and evidently a key testament to investing in your craft! And by the nods filling the room, this was a definite crowd pleaser!

Cutting a slice of the carrot cake

And to think, this time last week I was tucking into a delicious slice of her masala chai carrot cake. And I must say, of all the carrot cakes I’ve tried, this one sits pretty high on list. And this is due to several things.

1. The sweetness – what I find is that some cakes can be overly and borderline sickly sweet, making it difficult to identify any of the other flavours. But this one, this one was slightly sweet, just the way I like it!

2. Moisture – like goldilocks, this cake was just right.

3. Combination and depth of flavour

4. Texture – I, like many others can appreciate the delicate crumb of any cake

I went for the cake and to hear more about the inspiration behind the recipe book and it’s process, and left with a too-good-too-be-true goody bag, a couple of baking truths and tips and a great convo with a fellow baker. It goes without saying, that the first tea related event I’ve attended was a success.

Sneak peek of the goodies

Oh and before I forget, if you’d like to see a few of the products we received click here or head over to my Instagram highlight titled tea events. I’m considering going through the goody bag filled with a few of Benjamina’s baking favourites, so if you’d be interested in this, let me know in the comments below.

And till we meet again to discuss the next tea event,

Happy Sipping,

Bola

You've heard it before, time is money, but here's the side you may not have thought of – TIME

These last few months have been a whirlwind for me, as I’ve experienced multiple shifts and changes to my schedule. And if there’s been a recurring theme, it’s the feeling of being robbed of having enough time.

And though there’s plenty out there to support the claim that we all have the same 24 hours in a day, I felt like I was drawing the short straw every time. As my new routine has me waking up early and returning home late, I felt stretched for time and as though I was just watching time pass me by.

Night Morning GIF by Cartoon Hangover - Find & Share on GIPHY

As if this wasn’t enough, I got into the habit of forgetting I had the option of saying ‘no’ too. As a few opportunities came my way, without considering the impact or whether I was available to invest time into them, I smiled and said yes. In fact, I think it’s fair to say I was over committing and under stress by some of the places i spent my time. And as if this wasn’t enough, unknowingly all things leisure, fun and social drifted into the back burner as I

I must say, I am grateful for these experiences because without them, I wouldn’t know what teetered outside the comfort zone. And mainly because, through this I’ve learnt the valuable lesson of time being currency. And if there’s one thing I’d say I (and hope you too) can take away from all this, it’s that you owe it to yourself to at least think about where you spend time.

Let me know below, how have you adapted to major changes im your schedule? Or what are some coping mechanisms you use to help you better manage your disposable hours of the day?

So I say all this to say, start looking at time as money, in that it is a form of currency. I know we’ve just welcomed December but I really believe this is a personal development piece of advice to take into 2020.

Don’t be afraid to say ‘no’ but also don’t let it become your autopilot response to new opportunities, instead allow yourself to think as about your current commitments or the things you know you ought to dedicate more time to. Dont become too stingy though, as no one likes a miser but also allow yourself to be i n control of what you willingly agree to and what you respectively decline.

Till we stir the next set of leaves,

Bola

For the worksheet, click the link below.

Single Word Sunday – Begin

It must’ve been about 12:30am. As I clamber into bed and pull the duvets up my chest (with one foot out, of course), I use my arms to fluff up my duvets and aerate the covers, and I just air out what’s been on my mind. A pep talk, if you will.

*Context*

From the month of July, I made the decision and commitment (to myself) to begin this project and that I would press on. No matter the weather, no matter the mood, that I would continue to create. And looking back, it was brave and oh so worth it. I say this because, around that time I’d been experiencing bouts of motivation and lack thereof, and in times past, I admit, I would let this stagnate me. 7months into the year and I finally took a stand. And looking back, I’m glad that I did.

*End of context*

Why?

Well, for several reasons but most of all, because 4 weeks in (August), I can look back on the content I created and committed to. And truly, there may not be that much so far, but at least I can rest in the fact that I began. Because whether I liked it or not, August was going to roll around, and I could’ve been sitting here with a blank canvas, with nothing to account for.

But really, since I began,  I can look back, evaluate and appreciate the time I spent creating. And while you reading this right now may be where I was in June or the first half of the year, I hope that for the rest of the year, you take the time to apply yourself and invest (your time) in your dreams today.

Beginning sooner or later is besides the point, because we don’t all do things at the same – but choosing a point to start and seeing it through is key. And I say this as someone who likes to wait for the infamous “perfect timing to start”. And while I do still hold this saying to be true, I think it’s worth us assessing whether this is merely an excuse or a valid reason.

Sure, reasoning is relative, but in our hearts of hearts (or quiet moments as my mum likes to call them), we are each aware of when we create excuses to run away from getting things started.

Its like getting more exercise in, incorporating healthier habits to your routine or working on becoming a better version of yourself. We can choose to beat around the bush or begin.

In choosing the ‘single word’ for this week’s blogisode (that’s got to be a thing by now), I was straddling between commitment and begin, and following some light deliberation, I think ‘begin’ is the most fitting. (but if you’d be interested in seeing the post titled ‘commitment’, then feel free to let me know in the comments!

If there’s one thing you can take away from today’s post, let it be this:

You can choose to beat around the bush or begin.

– Bola Talks Tea

And on that note, I guess ill leave you with this question – where would be, a month (or 4 weeks) from now, if you were to begin today?

Feel free to let me know your thoughts in the comments below, or stay connected on socials!

Forget running a mile when you can Chamomile – London Tea Company review

*Disclaimer: this is not a sponsored post and all opinions are my own

So it’s official, we’re in the ripe stages of Summer (I think we are well past ‘ripe’, what with the heatwaves we’ve been experiencing!) but if there’s a gem I’ve been enjoying, it’s got to be chamomile tea!

In particular, The London Tea Company’s Chamomile tea. And since the weather’s been (mostly) warm, I’ve taken a liking to this blend of tea. I must admit though, I do prefer it with a few additional ingredients which I’ll list below.

How I make the tea

Well since their teabags are packaged in little paper enveloped, I tend to prep the stringed tea bag as the kettle boils. This is useful for displaying their fair trade commitments as well as making it easier to dispose of the tea bag once the brew is complete.

Side note: I don’t typically make my tea with steaming hot water, I prefer to wait for it to cool for about 5 minutes before getting the brew going.

I’ll then measure out the water and keep the tea bag in the mug till I finish sipping. Then I’ll add a squidge of (actual) honey, lemon (if i have any on hand),stir and enjoy!

Does the flavour match the description?

They describe the tea as being a “balanced blend with a delicious, soothing buttery flavour.”

And given that I prefer extra additions to my cup of tea, I felt it would only be fair for me to try it on it’s own to give a fair review. And from that…

My observation of the chamomile (on it’s own) is that it fares well and lives up to the ‘buttery and smooth’ description listed. Especially when it’s warm (close to hot but not scalding, is when it’s best enjoyed).

Where will you find their tea?

The three main places that you can find their blends (aside from commercial traders), are:

Amazon

Ethical Superstore

The LT website

Having taken a little perusal of their website and socials (along with my tasting of the tea), here are a few pros and cons I settled with.

Pros

– Reasonably priced (a 250 teabag box of tea for £13.99)

-They are considered an ethical shop and they trade fairly with their tea farmers

-Their care and appreciation for tea is evident in their blog posts

-They have won several taste awards

Cons

-No loose leaf tea options (only bagged tea bags, which I reckon is for convenience, so I guess it’s a plus really)

-No full story telling of the history or background of the brand (which may be just me, but I like to know the story behind how ideas come about and brands come to fruition)

What do I rate them overall?

I thought long and hard about this, because there are so many good things about their tea (and their brand in general). From their fair trade commitments, to the educating of novices (like myself) on the differences between pyramid and envelope teabags to the appropriate ways of brewing a cuppa, I feel they are quite strong. However the rating will be based on the tea alone, and for this, I have chosen to give them a 7/10!

If this encouraged you to give them a try, feel free to let me know in the comments below or stay connected on Instagram or Twitter

And if there’s a blend you’d recommend or that you’d like me to try, you can contact me here

Till the next sip session!

Single Word Sunday – Pause

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We know the days get long and our schedules get busy as we are bogged down with work, school and other commitments, but at what point do you just..pause?

A chosen moment to decompress, unwind and take a breath. That’s what a pause during the day looks like to me.

Typically, I’ll close my eyes, tilt my head back and breathe. This signals and reminds me to slow it down. (While thinking, “I’ve got this, that and the other to get done”, a simple word of prayer really helps to keep me grounded while reminding me that patience really is a virtue.)

I understand that the world we live in can be very fast paced. With demands and commitments asking for our attention, how can we momentarily reduce the pace of all this?

Truth is, you have to choose. Yes we are bombarded with choices day in day out and decisions will always have to be made, however as long as you know can tell when the day is getting heavy with overwhelm bearing it’s weight and you choose to pause, then that’s one less decision you have to make.

I know the thought of taking the time to be still and do nothing can seem counterintuitive when ‘there’s so much to do’ but in reality