Friday, 26 September 2014

Earl Grey IPA

In keeping with my tea theme I'll be finishing off Veganmofo 2014 by raising a glass of Earl Grey beer to all the bloggers round the world who've taken part in this fantastic event. Well done everyone! I feel like I've only skimmed the surface of what's out there so I'll be doing what I do every year and that's using my lunch breaks at work to check out all the blogs that have taken part between now and Mofo 2015.

This lovely Indian pale ale is brewed by a local Manchester brewery, Marble Beers. Their beers are available more widely though so keep an eye out for them. Although they carry the Vegetarian Society logo they are all in fact suitable for vegans. Check out the full range and the lovely bottle designs. My mate Jan is their graphic designer and gets to taste all the new beers first, what a great job!

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Vegan Orange and Pecan Rooibos Teabread

A few years ago the supermarket chain Lidl used to sell some great value interestingly flavoured redbush teabags. As well as the standard Redbush or Rooibos as it's also known there was caramel and orange flavours. My favourite was the orange and this recipe is inspired by the memory of it.

Orange and Pecan Rooibos Teabread


2 cups of plain flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 a teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/2 cup of caster sugar
1/4 cup of sunflower or melted coconut oil
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 teaspoon of orange extract
2 rooibos (redbush) teabags brewed in 1 1/4 cups (250ml or 1/4 litre) of freshly boiled water
1/2 cup of chopped pecans
1/2 a cup of candied peel
2 tablespoons of marmalade

Pre-heat the oven to 350C/ 180F/ Gas 4
Grease and flour a loaf tin.

Add the boiling water to the teabags and set to one side to brew.

Sieve the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and caster sugar and mix together.

Add the oil, vanilla extract, orange extract and tea. The teabags will have absorbed a bit of the water so top back up to the original amount. Stir into the dry mixture.

Fold in the chopped pecans, candied peel and marmalade.

Put the mixture into the loaf tin and bake for 50 minutes.

Cool on a cooling rack before removing from a tin.

Enjoy on it's own or with a thin spreading of vegan margarine or coconut oil.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Cherry and Cinnamon Tea Cosmopolitan

I'm usually more of a fan of herbal rather than fruit teas but I do love these Cherry and Cinnamon teabags from Twinnings. They make a lovely refreshing hot or cold drink and lend themselves well to use in a fruity cocktail. Make a strong cup of tea ahead of time (I used two teabags in a small cup) and allow to cool.

Serves 1

A double shot of vodka
A single shot of orange liqueur
A single shot of cherry and cinnamon tea
A squeeze of fresh lime juice

Add all the ingredients to a cocktail shaker and shake with ice. Strain into a martini glass and serve.

Have you used tea in any cocktails?

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Vegan Earl Grey Chocolate Truffles

I love to make truffles and really wanted to make a couple of tea themed truffle recipes for Mofo. Check out my White Chocolate and Matcha Green Tea Truffles as well. I based this recipe on this one I found at Epicurious, veganising it and adding the orange zest as it's a good compliment to the bergamot orange flavouring in the Earl Grey. This would be great made with loose tea leaves but it also works well with a high quality teabag such as Pukka's Gorgeous Earl Grey which also has added lavender, another flavour that works fantastically well with Earl Grey.


Makes about 30 truffles

2/3 cup of soya cream
2 tablespoons of vegan margarine
2 teaspoons of loose leaf Earl Grey tea or the contents of 2 good quality teabags
6oz of good dark chocolate
1 teaspoon of grated orange zest
Powdered chocolate for rolling the truffles


Heat the margarine and cream in a pan until melted. Stir in the tea and leave for 5 minutes.

Whilst the tea mixture is steeping, whiz the chocolate up in a food processor to form a powder. Place in a bowl.

Sieve the cream mixture through a fine sieve or tea strainer onto the chocolate and stir until the chocolate is dissolved. Stir in the orange zest.

If you have any problems with the chocolate dissolving just pop the bowl in a pan of hot water and stir until melted. I made half the recipe and the cream mixture cooled quickly. This sorted it out.

Place the resulting chocolate ganache mixture in the fridge for a couple of hours or overnight.

Take teaspoons of the mixture and roll into balls then roll the balls in powdered cocoa powder. Serve in miniature cases.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Popcorn Tea Poached Pears with Ninjabread Men

I've made tea poached pears a few times in the past but always with Earl Grey. I decided for Mofo to try a different tea. I came across this recipe online for Ginger and Jasmine Tea-Poached Pears. It sounded great and I was going to use Jasmine tea until I came across this organic Genmaicha 'popcorn' tea in my local Chinese supermarket. The popcorn flavours come from the addition of roasted rice and make the tea smell and taste great.

First off I made some tea in our new teapot which was a house warming gift from our friend Sarah and her family. Isn't it fab!

This then went into a large pan. Alongside the strongly brewed tea there was Coconom Ginger coconut sugar and slices of fresh ginger.

The recipe recommended serving with your favourite gingersnap cookies so I got on with making some whilst the pears stewed.

My ninjabread cookie cutters were a Christmas gift from my friend Susan and this recipe seemed perfect for their first outing! Here they are fighting over the pears.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Chamomile Tea Hot Toddy

The chamomile flower is well known for it's soothing relaxing qualities. It's distinctive flavours are not to everyone's taste though. In herbal tea form it is often paired with honey with the sweetness of the honey tempering the bitterness of the chamomile. As vegans avoid honey I've come up with my own version using coconut sugar instead. According to Barnivore the orange brand name liqueurs Grand Marnier and Cointreau are suitable for vegans as are some brands of triple sec. It's a cross between a cocktail and a medicinal drink as it would also make a great evening drink when you feel you've got a cold coming on as I do today.

Chamomile Hot Toddy

Makes 1 serving

2 teaspoons of loose chamomile flowers or one chamomile teabag
Boiling water
1 shot of orange liqueur or if you don't have this try a shot of brandy and half a freshly squeezed orange
1 teaspoon of coconut sugar (I used Coconom coconut sugar with ginger)

Make a mug of chamomile tea. Once this is brewed stir in the orange liqueur and coconut sugar.

Sit back, sip and relax. Sweet dreams.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Flowering Tea at Lotus Vegetarian Kitchen

When do you ever order tea to go with your meal in a restaurant? Answer - in a Japanese or Chinese restaurant you do. Very excitingly a Chinese vegetarian restaurant called Lotus Vegetarian Kitchen has recently opened in the South Manchester area of Withingon. They don't serve alcohol, it's bring your own booze, but they do serve beautiful Chinese teas. We went for this three flower tea and the pot kept us going throughout the meal. It was really refreshing as well as being beautiful to look at.

We were really excited to get vegan prawn crackers! These are something that I used to love before I was vegan and never thought I'd have again. We munched on these whilst we picked from the extensive menu. It was a treat to have so much choice. Everything is vegetarian with a large percentage of the menu also being suitable for vegans.

I'd recommend going for this starter combo plate if you're dinning as a pair. There's crispy seaweed, samosas, spring rolls, BBQ ribs, prawn toasts and chicken satay skewers. Everything tasted freshly made and these were some of the most impressive mock meats I've ever come across. They are all made with different ingredients and the ribs and chicken had different textures and the prawn toasts tasted just how I remembered them. The website states that they use soya proteins, soya fibres, wheat proteins, mushrooms and yam flour.

For our mains we went for a crispy noodle tofu and vegetable dish and Sweet and sour King Prawns. Both dishes were excellent, these were the best mock prawns I've tried and the tofu was lovely and fresh. It was softer than the tofu often is in Chinese dishes and a nice contrast to the crispy noodles.

I was surprised to see on the website when I was getting the address to write this blog that none of the dishes contained onions, garlic or leek. We hadn't noticed at all and the food was so tasty it wasn't missed. Great news for people who avoid those vegetables! 

I can't recommend Lotus Vegetarian Kitchen highly enough. The standard of food and service were excellent . I've eaten at New York eateries who do mock meat and Vegan Chinese dishes really well like Red Bamboo, Zen Palate and Vegetarian's Paradise 2  and believe me Lotus is up there with them. If you're in the Manchester area do go visit. You won't be disappointed!

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Vegan White Chocolate and Matcha Green Tea Truffles

This is a really easy truffle recipe that gets great results. I've adapted it from the basic truffle recipe that I've used time and time again with multiple flavour variations.

White Chocolate and Matcha Green Tea Truffles
Makes about 20 truffles

100g of vegan white chocolate (I used 4 of those little bags of buttons)
50g of vegan margarine
1 teaspoon of matcha green tea
25g of ground almonds
1 tablespoon of soya cream
150g icing sugar
Ground almonds and cocoa powder to dust

Melt the white chocolate and margarine in a pan over a low heat.
Remove from the heat and stir in the matcha powder and cream followed by the icing sugar and ground almonds.
Leave the mixture to cool. Once cool take teaspoonfuls and roll into balls. Then roll half in ground almonds and half in cocoa powder.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Vegan Lapsang Souchong Marzipan Fruitcake

I've recently fallen totally in love with Lapsang Souchong tea and like to take a mug of it in my travel cup on my train journey into work in the mornings. I add a splash of soya milk and sometimes a bit of agave or Sweet Freedom. If you've never tried it, it's a very smokey tasting and smelling tea. Matt hates it and calls it ashtray tea! It's definitely a 'marmite' tea. I first tried it as a teeenager and thought it was disgusting but now I can't get enough of it! The smoke flavour is entirely natural and comes from the pine trees in the area where it's grown. The smoke from the pinewood drifts through and permeates the tea as it dries out on bamboo trays. One way I've managed to get Matt to imbibe some is by infusing a cake with it.

I found a couple of recipes on the internet that helped inspire this vegan Lapsang Souchong cake. There's the famous Nigella Marzipan Fruitcake which uses rum rather than tea (I've had great success veganising this and subbing the rum for whisky) and also this adaption of the Nigella cake to use Lapsang Souchong tea by Maison Cupcake. The tea flavour is pretty subtle and the recipe makes a decadent super sweet cake with the pear and marzipan flavours working wonderfully well. This cake needs no topping although if you don't like the look of a plain fruitcake you could add some artfully arranged blanched almonds.


150g raisins
100g dried cherries*
120g dried pears, chopped small*
100ml of lapsang souchong tea for soaking the fruit**
250ml of marzipan, diced
50g of ground almonds
175 g plain flour
100g caster sugar
100g vegan margarine
2 egg replacer eggs (I used powdered egg replacer)
2 tablespoons of orange liqueur (or orange juice or other spirit or liqueur)
2 tablespoons of freshly brewed Lapsang Souchong tea for adding to the cake batter

* The only place I found the dried cherries and pears was a big Tesco. If you can't get them sub with other dried fruit (pineapple would be great) or glace cherries.

**I used Twinings tea bags which are widely available

The night before mix the raisins, dried cherries and chopped dried pears in a large bowl and cover with the 100ml of lapsang souchong. Dice the marzipan into small dice and put it in the freezer.
Leave these overnight.

In the morning grease and line the base and sides of a 20cm springform cake tin with greaseproof paper.
Set the oven to 140C/280F/Gas 1.

Beat together the almonds, sugar, flour, margarine and egg replacer. Add the fruit mixture, orange liqueur, two tablespoons of freshly brewed Lapsang Souchong and frozen marzipan. Add the mixture to the tin, levelling the surface with a slight indent in the middle.

Bake for 2 hours or until a skewer comes out clean. If it starts to brown on the top before it is cooked then cover the top with foil.

Let it cool in the tin and then enjoy with a cup of tea.

Monday, 15 September 2014

London Fog Earl Grey Latte

This seems an apt drink for today as there is mist covering the hills round Glossop and it feels like Autumn is well and truly here. I'd never heard of London Fog Lattes until I spotted them on the menu in the cafe in Oklahoma in Manchester a couple of years ago. Oklahoma is a fab gift shop with adjoining veggie friendly cafe in Manchester's Northern Quarter that is definitely one to check out if you're visiting the city.

For my homemade version I use a tea bag from Pukka. I love Pukka teas, threy're always such great quality and their earl grey has the bonus of an added hint of lavender.

I used sweetened soya milk which I heated then frothed up with my mini battery operated whisk. I picked up this whisk for about £1.50 on eBay and it's had endless use.

1 strongly brewed cup of Earl Grey (I made about 1/3 of the mug)
Soya or other plant milk of your choice
1 teaspoon of Sweet Freedom or agave syrup
Cinnamon to sprinkle (optional)

I served the latte in my Too Happy Vegans travel mug which I like to use on my morning commute. I won it a few years a ago in a competition on the Too Happy Vegans blog. If you've not come across the blog before you should definitely check it out. It's written by friends Mitsu and Sasha who've done lots of great things for the vegan community (including organising the UK vegan food swap) and is especially great for reviews of new products and places to eat in London.
Ps- In the background is an original 1970's biscuit tin we got from a fab shop called Vintage Finds in Glossop. It looks brand new and has a little filter inside the lid to keep those Jammie Dodgers and Chocolate Chip HobNobs nice and fresh! Best biscuit tin ever.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Mint Tea Julep

It's the weekend so here's this week's tea infused cocktail recipe. I used to work in the wine and spirit industry and I can remember being at a rum tasting and it being a real revelation to see cheap white rum being transformed for use in a cocktail after it was muddled with an Earl Grey tea bag, muddling being the mixologists term for giving it a good old stir. My friend Julian reminded me of this when he told me all his many uses for peppermint tea bags including iced tea, cocktails and even gravy! I've taken the idea here to make a quick and easy mint julep. So, if fresh mint leaves are not available as long as you've got some mint teabags in your store cupboard you need never go without a julep or mojito. I just love cocktail accessories. She's not very clear in the picture but on the end of the stirrer is an Hawaiian hula dancer. I have a set of these and a set of monkeys wearing fezs.

Mint Tea Julep
Serves 1


1 peppermint teabag
50ml/2 fl oz of bourbon
1 teaspoon of icing sugar (powdered sugar)
6-8 icecubes

Place the mint tea bag, bourbon and sugar in a cocktail shaker and gently muddle with a spoon for a few minutes.

Add the ice cubes, shake then strain into a tumbler over ice.

Do you have any other use for mint tea bags?

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Manchester's Vegan Bubble Tea Bar

The only time I've tried bubble tea was about 6 years ago in New York. I remember being excited when shortly afterwards a bubble tea cafe opened in Manchester's  Chinatown but alas the drinks were dairy based and not suitable for vegans. I thought vegan bubble tea must just be a New York thing.

With that in mind I've often walked past Bobo Tea, the bubble tea bar in Manchester's Arndale Shopping Centre without giving it a second thought. With my Mofo theme as tea though I started thinking about bubble tea and sent Bobo a tweet just on the off chance they could do a vegan option. To my delight they tweeted right back saying all their drinks could be made vegan and recommending the iced tea with jellies (coconut flesh).

The bubble teas are made up from a flavour, a creamer (ask for soy powder instead of dairy), black or green tea, ice and tapioca balls (these are the bubbles). The result is a sweet, milky tea drink that you drink through a wide straw that also sucks up the chewy tapioca balls. These are kind of tasteless but strangely addictive.

My sister and I chose almond and coconut flavour bubble teas respectively. We both found the almond a little strong and sweet tasting for our palates but loved the coconut which was more subtle, refreshing, yet really creamy tasting. I'm already looking forward to going back to try more flavours and also check out their iced tea recommendations. The prices are similar to a latte in a coffee shop and the drinks are a fun alternative.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Lapsang Souchong Smoked Tofu

When I decided to do tea for my Mofo theme I started having a look around the internet to see what kind of savoury tea related recipes people have created. One that caught my eye was this Smoked Tea Infused Tofu from the wonderful blog Seitan Is My Motor. I tweaked the recipe changing a few ingredients whilst hoping it would come out like a almost bacon like tofu I once made with tofu that had been frozen first.

A 250g block of tofu, frozen and then defrosted
150ml of lapsang souchong tea (2 teabags), brewed and left to cool
1 dessert spoon of Henderson's relish (if you can't find this Sheffield delicacy then veggie Worcestershire Sauce will do)
1 dessert spoon of soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
2 dessertspoons of maple syrup
2 cloves of pressed garlic

Once the tofu has defrosted, press it with kitchen towels to get the water out. Slice the tofu and place in a large dish. Pour over the marinade and leave overnight.
Heat some olive oil in a pan and fry the tofu slices until browned on each side. This takes good cold and we had it in a salad with chopped avocado.

It didn't come out bacon like as I'd hoped. I think the tofu was so spongy it soaked up loads of the marinade. Thinking back I seem to remember a dry rub and grilling the tofu to get a crispy outcome. It did have great flavours though. The texture reminded me more of strips of omelette. It worked really well too on a barm cake as a BLT and was definitely worth experimenting with.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Vegan Earl Grey Shortbread Cookies

This is an old favourite recipe of mine for a super fast and tasty shortbread cookie that can be whipped up and on your plate in less time than it takes to walk to the shop to buy a packet of biscuits. They look and sound fancy too so they make a great gift. They are very easy to make and if you're not an Earl Grey fan try subbing it with chai.


Makes 16 biscuits

1/2 cup of vegan margarine
1/2 cup if icing sugar (confectioners sugar)
Couple of drops of vanilla extract
1 cup + 2 tablespoons of plain flour
1/8 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
1/8 teaspoon of salt
The contents of 3 Earl Grey teabags

Preheat the oven to 350F/ 180C/ Gas Mark 4

Grease and line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper or use a silpat mat

Beat the margarine until creamy. add the vanilla extract and icing sugar and beat again.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour and bicarbonate of soda. Stir in the contents of the teabags.

Fold this mixture into the icing sugar and margarine mixture. Add a bit more flour if it's too sticky.

Roll out onto a floured board and cut out with your favourite cookie cutters.

Transfer to the baking tray and bake for 12-14 minutes until they start to turn golden.

Allow to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack.

Whilst they cool put the kettle on and make yourself a pot of Earl Grey.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Vegan Banana, Chai and Peach Smoothie

I love a good smoothie for breakfast. I'd never added tea to one until I made last week's Green Tea Smoothie but after the success of that I thought I'd try another tea based smoothie. I used a red bush chai but if you fancied a morning caffeine boost a black tea based chai would work just as well. I brewed the tea the evening before and left it in the fridge overnight. For the milk I used the new M and S coconut milk.


1 banana
2 small or one large peach or nectarine
Half a teaspoon of cinnamon
1 cup of strong chai tea (I made it with two tea bags)
Half a cup of coconut milk
A teaspoon of Sweet Freedom or other honey substitute

When you're ready to go add all the ingredients to the blender putting in the wet ingredients last and blend away.

Of course there's loads of add in extras that would go well with this. I added half a teaspoon of my favourite pre and pro biotic powder Prime Selection and superfood powders like maca and baobab would work really well with these flavours. What other teas do you think would work well in a smoothie?

Friday, 5 September 2014

Vegan Black Forest Gateau Breakfast Rolls

I've been testing some flavoured chocolate icing sugars for a company called Sugar and Crumbs. They sent me two flavours to try - Jaffa Twist which I've used to make these chocolate, orange biscuits and Black Forest which I've used here in my take on cinnamon rolls. The chocolate flavour in the icing is quite subtle and more like milk chocolate to a vegan palate but with the black cherry flavour it makes a nice compliment to the dark chocolate, cherries and vanilla which are in the roll filling. I'd never made cinnamon rolls before, partly as I'm only recently getting over my fear of things requiring yeast and rising times and partly because I live with a cinnamon hater.

When I found this easy recipe on line for cinnamon rolls by The Minimalist Baker I knew I wanted to have a go at my own cinnamon free version. I'd been thinking about a recipe to go with English Breakfast Tea and rolls seemed perfect for a lazy Sunday morning breakfast when you have a bit more time to make something like this.

1 packet of instant yeast
1 cup of soya milk
1/2 a cup of vegan margarine + 3 tablespoons
1/4 teaspooon of salt
3 cups of plain flour
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon of sugar (I used Coconom coconut sugar)
50g of dark chocolate
50g of dried cherries, chopped in half
Seeds from inside a vanilla pod
Black Forest Chocolate Icing Sugar from Sugar and Crumbs

Heat the milk and half a cup of margarine together until melted. Let it cool until just warm and pour into a mixing bowl. Sprinkle on the yeast and leave for a few minutes. Then add 1 tablespoon of sugar and the salt and stir. Mix in the flour half a cup at a time. Transfer to a floured surface and knead for a few minutes. Wash out the bowl, grease it with sunflower oil, put the dough back in and cover with clingfilm.

Leave the dough to rise for an hour, it will double in size. Then roll it out to form a thin rectangle. Melt 3 tablespoons of margarine in a pan and stir in the vanilla seeds.

Brush some of the margarine and vanilla mixture over the surface of the dough and sprinkle with the coconut sugar. Then scatter the chopped chocolate and dried cherries over the surface. Roll the dough up into a long sausage shape and then use a serrated knife to cut it into 10 rolls.

Brush the rolls with the remaining margarine and vanilla mixture. Pop these into a pre-heated oven of 180C/ 350F for 25-30 minutes.

Don't worry if there's a bit of space around the rolls are you can see these filled out and filled the whole dish during cooking.

I let them cool then I made a simple icing using the Black Forest Chocolate icing sugar and cold water and then simply drizzled this over the rolls as a glaze. Enjoy with a pot of English Breakfast Tea. Today's crockery in the background are cups and saucers from our extensive collection of charity shop sourced Hornsea Heirloom.

I was so chuffed with how these came out. They have definitely helped me conquer my fear of using yeast in cooking and I can't wait to experiment further!