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What is Taro?

Let’s Get Acquainted With This Special Root Vegetable

As you navigate through the supermarket’s vegetable aisle, you have probably run into potato’s hairy and funny-looking cousin, the taro root. Or perhaps it caught your attention as you skipped through Taro’s ever-growing popularity regarding its taste and nutritional value has turned a lot of heads lately. But, what is taro? How can this mystery superfood benefit you? Why should it be part of your dietary pattern? Read along, and you shall find out.

What is Taro?

If you are on the lookout for a tasty way to broaden your starch horizons, then look no further. This purple-tinged root vegetable comes from the taro plant which consists of three parts, the thick tuber stalk (taro root), the corm and the green leaves, also known as elephant ears (clever, huh?). However, taro root is the popular part of this vegetable. Native to India as well as Southeast Asia, the taro plant is a century-long staple in local cuisines as well as Hawaii, Africa, the Polynesian islands and the Carribean.

Taro’s Nutritional Value (Health Benefits)

However, taro’s eye-catching color is not the only thing that should draw your attention. This root vegetable is rich in various nutrients that can benefit you in all sorts of ways. First off, taro is a rich source of fiber and, thus, you feel full for longer. Despite the fact that it contains more calories than regular potatoes do, the tuberous vegetable has a low Glycemic Index (GI). That means that your blood sugar levels are not likely to spike after eating it (perfect for diabetics). You should also keep in mind that taro is loaded with nutrients such as potassium, iron, and Vitamins.

Culinary Use of Taro (Plus Cooking Tips)

The ways in which you can incorporate taro in your dietary routine are countless. Taro can be found in Hawaiian poi, bubble tea, many sweet and tasty delicacies from around the world. This proves that taro is a multi-use cooking ingredient with lots of potentials.

If someone were to describe taro’s taste, that would resemble a regular potato. The only difference between these two is that taro comes with a richer and nuttier taste. Like potatoes, you can boil, mash, fry, roast or bake taro roots.

Despite its abundance in nutrients, make sure not to consume the taro root raw. Its high content in oxalate content makes the root toxic for consumption. It’s also safer to peel the root while using gloves since its fuzzy exterior may irritate your skin.

Taro Bubble Tea

Taro bubble tea is without a doubt the most popular way of introducing this purple vegetable into your eating routine. The main ingredient of this frothy beverage is taro root powder which is used to flavor various desserts such as taro pudding and cheesecake.

Despite its massive nutritional punch, taro is often unappreciated. The starchy, purple-tinged root, however, is packed with a galore of health benefits that you should not overlook. From its potato-like taste to its culinary versatility, taro can revolutionise your cooking. So, let’s get tucked into delicious world of taro!

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What is Matcha Green Tea?

There’s been a massive rise in popularity for Matcha Green Tea. It seems like everywhere you turn these days, there’s always someone pushing a matcha beverage. But what is matcha? In this blog we will be explaining what matcha is and why you should be drinking matcha green tea.

What is Matcha Green Tea?

Matcha is finely ground green tea powder made from the highest quality Japanese tea leaves. It is traditionally used in Japanese tea ceremonies, but has now found its way into other food including latte, brownies and even bubble tea.

Matcha starts off from the tea plant, Camellia sinensis. Around April, when new shoots sprout, the plants are shaded with tarps to allow only 20% of light exposure. This makes the leaves more potent by forcing it to produce more chlorophyll whilst maintaining high levels of L-Theanine. L-Theanine is an amino acid that is responsible for the full-bodied flavour and also for matcha’s calming effect. After 3 weeks, the youngest tea leaves are plucked from the plants. The leaves are steamed for 15-20 seconds to stop fermentation and to preserves the green colour. The next stage is to dry the leaves in a chamber with circulating air. Once dried, the stem and veins are separated leaving the part that’s called Tencha. A stone mill is then used to ground the leaves into fine powder and then the matcha is ready for brewing.

Different Matcha Grades

There are three general matcha grades, ceremonial grade, standard grade and cooking grade. Ceremonial grade is the highest grade of Matcha and is used for Japanese tea ceremonies. Ceremonial grade is shaded for at least 15 days, properly de-veined and stone ground at low temperature. The lowest grade is cooking grade, which is used for ice cream, baking and bubble tea. As discussed above, there are many different stages of the processing of matcha. If shortcuts are taken to speed up the process or if there are lack of attention to detail, lower grade matcha is produced. For examples, the leaves are not shaded fully for 20 days or lack of attention to de-veining. Grinding process that is rushed will not produce micro-fine powder.

How To Look For The Best Matcha

To look for the best ceremonial grade matcha, you can tell a lot about the quality by looking at the colour. Generally, the darker the green the higher the quality. Storage is also important. Some matcha green tea are stored in glass jar which will let light in. Make sure you are purchasing matcha that is stored in an air tight tin container. Matcha will age very quick so it is important to consume the matcha within the year that it was purchased.

One final point is that when buying matcha, make sure you ask the tea supplier if the tea leaves are radiation tested. Which the crisis that happened in Fukishima, you want to make sure the matcha is rational free. We would also suggest purchasing organic matcha to avoid consuming and potential fertilisers or pesticides.

 

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Brighton Thai Food Festival 2016

Brighton Thai Food Festival 2016 – Preston Park

We are proud to announce our attendance at Brighton Thai food festival at Preston Park. This weekend 20th-21st August experience the taste of thai food as well as bubble tea. The event is hosted by Magic of Thailand. This will be our last summer food festival for this year. We are preparing our menu and will include our popular Thai milk tea.

Update 22nd August 2016

This was the festival’s third year at Brighton and it has been successful each time. The Magic of Thailand was not short of entertainment. There were plenty of authentic Thai cuisine to try out. Traditional Thai costumes were no doubt featured. As well as Muay Thai boxing and live music performance. However the highlight of the event was the Ladyboy show. Despite the weather being windy with sudden outburst of rain, over 10,000 people showed up to experience the taste of thailand.

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Thousand stood in the rain and watched entertainments by ladyboys

MagicofThailand-Brighton-1As promised, at this festival you could grab our popular Thai milk tea bubble tea.

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Far East Festival – London 2016

Far East Festival – Mountsfield Park 2016

On Saturday 6th August, we attended a food festival hosted by Far East in Mountsfield Park Catford. A huge list of entertainment for the day included music performance by 4th Impact & JAGMAC. Attendees to the festival could also find food stalls as well as fun fair rides. We were positioned in the middle of the park in a big blue and yellow chill tent. Within the chill tent, customers could relax, get away from the heat and enjoy our bubble tea. Throughout the day we served our popular Original Hachoo milk tea, matcha, mango and coconut milk tea. As well as 5 of our top fruit tea bubble tea drinks including passion fruit mango & peach lychee green tea. Tapioca pearls of course was a must. The weather was hot and sunny, therefore it seems like it would be a great day.

What went wrong?

Sadly the turnout was an embarrassing 300 people instead of the expected 8000. There were only several food stalls and only a handful was serving food relating to the far east theme. We received a number of complaints from festival attendees, traders and even from the security team in regards to the ridiculously over priced ticket, lack of entertainment and lack of available food choice.

Tickets Was Far Too Pricey

In April, early bird tickets were sold out immediately after ticket sales were available. However only 300 people attended. Which begs the question, how many early bird tickets were available to purchase? Advanced tickets were £8.50 and on the day price was £15. A number of people who paid £15 on the day was not happy to attend a massive park with hardly anything to do. One customer said they couldn’t go on the fun fair ride even if they wanted to pay because there was not enough riders to justify operating the rides. The event was then taking a turn for the worse. Early paying customers found out that ticket price was reduced to £10 at 3:25 pm and subsequently free after 6 pm.

Far East Festival

Last minute tweet by Far East Festival reducing ticket price to desperately attract festival goers.

Poor Marketing

Ticket pricing was not the only down fall of the festival. Many people have suggested that there was minimal effort in promoting the event. It is clear by looking at the number of tweets on Far East Festival’s twitter page. Their twitter feed only started to become more active few weeks run up to the event day. However, organisation plans began as early as March.

How Were We Affected?

Considering it was a hot sunny day, we performed well in serving our bubble tea drinks to the audience. Tragically this was not true for the rest of the food traders. We now realised this was a massive lesson for us to learn. The organisers had no previous experience and it was their first ever event. It is not easy for an amateur event organiser to organise a fun fair, music concert and food festival all mash up together. Careful considering will need to be evaluated for the next time we are approached by an event organiser with such wacky idea.

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What Is Caffeine

What is Caffeine?

Caffeine is the world’s most popular drug. People pay more for 12 oz of coffee than a litre of fuel, which today is roughly £1.11 per litre of petrol. It is plant product that is most commonly found in coffee beans, tea leafs, soft drinks and even chocolate. The Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) in defines caffeine as both a food additive and drug. Extracted Caffeine by itself is a bitter white powder.

How caffeine works?

Caffeine

It tricks your brain into thinking that you are not tired. The chemical name for caffeine is 1,3,7-trimethylxanthine. Those who are chemist will know that it is structurally similar to adenosine, which binds onto receptors in the brain to make us feel sleepy. Caffeine blocks those receptors, preventing adenosine from working its magic. Therefore instead of having a calming affect, caffeine stimulates the brain, causing increase in heart rate, blood pressure, alertness and delay in onset of fatigue.

After 30 minutes of drinking caffeine, the dose of caffeine is at its highest in your blood, with a half-life of 6 hours. This means after 6 hours you still have half the original amount in your body.

Is Caffeine Addictive?

Caffeine may feel addictive however it is not classed as an addiction. It is merely a habit and does not activate the brain-reward circuit, which most addictions do. Going cold-turkey on caffeine will not give you the withdrawal symptoms as other drugs like nicotine. Headaches and moodiness may develop, but these symptoms should disappear after a day or two.

Can I Overdose On Caffeine?

Thankfully the answer is no. However, doctors recommend that the average person keeps their limit to below two 12 oz cups of coffee or 300 mg per day. In comparison, certain energy drinks will contain 80 mg of caffeine. You would most likely feel sick from drinking so much than overdosing. So there is nothing to worry about.

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How To Make Original Taiwanese Bubble Tea with Tapioca Pearls

How To Make Bubble Tea

Ever wanted to make your own bubble tea at home? This blog will show you how simple it is to make an original Taiwanese style bubble tea.

Instructions are for one serving. To make more, similar multiply the numbers.

What you need:

Ingredients
Tapioca pearls (2 tablespoons)
Black tea (2 tablespoon)
Milk (50 ml) or Creamer (40g)
Water
Ice (optional)
Sugar (optional)

kitchen-ingredients

Equipment
Cooking pot
Spatula
Kettle
Tea pot
Tablespoon
Colander
Measuring cups
Jumbo drinking straw
Cocktail shaker (optional)

kitchen-equipments

If you purchased one of our bubble tea kit, instructions are already included and you can click on the following link to download the quick instructions PDF, however this recipe blog will give more details of the process of making your own bubble tea.

Cook Tapioca

Tapioca Pearls are dry and fragile. They crumble when you squeeze them. Unlike quick cooking tapioca, which is hard and bouncy. If tapioca pearls isn’t your thing, you can skip this step and add something else like grass jelly or one of our other toppings we have available in our shop.

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Each serving requires 2 tablespoons of Tapioca pearls. Boil 600ml of water in a pot. For additional servings, add 200 ml of water for every addition of 2 tablespoons of tapioca pearls.

Once the water is boiling, stir the water and add the tapioca pearls into the water. Set the temperature down to medium. Note: medium setting on a gas cooker might still be too high. If you find that the water dries out, set the gas cooker to low.

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Stir the tapioca pearls to ensure they do not stick together or to the pot. Once the tapioca pearls are floating, cover with lid leaving a small gap, start the timer for 30 minutes and check every so often to ensure the pearls are not stuck to the bottom or to each other.

Whilst the tapioca pearls are cooking, you can make the sugar bath for the pearls. To make a simple sugar  syrup, add 1:1 ratio of sugar to hot water, e.g. add 100g of sugar to 100 ml of hot water. Ensure the sugar is fully dissolved. Tip: We would advise to use brown sugar. You can also use honey instead.

After cooking the tapioca pearls for 30 minutes, turn off the heat and cover the pot fully with the lid for 18 minutes. After 18 minutes have past, drain the tapioca pearls using a colander and rinse with cold water until they are cool enough to touch. Please be careful as the tapioca pearls will still be hot. Rinsing the tapioca pearls in cold water stops the cooking process and prevents the pearls from becoming too soft. Once the tapioca pearls are cool enough to touch, soak them in the sugar bath.

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Brew Tea

For the best tasting flavour, tea needs to be brewed at a specific temperature and for a certain amount of time. This helps unlock its full taste and smell which might be destroyed if brewed at too high water temperature or too long brewing time. One of the key reason any tea taste bitter, especially jasmine tea is because the temperature of the water is too hot. Brewing the tea too long is another factor to look out for. The longer the tea is brewed, the more tannins that are extracted which is another reason for tea tasting bitter.

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Boil 200 ml of water and let it cool for 1 minute. Kettles usually boils water to 100 degrees celcius. We’ve calculated that if you leave the water to cool for approximately 1 minute, the temperature should drop to around 92-95 degrees celcius, which is the correct brewing temperature for black tea. Add 2 tablespoons of black tea into a tea pot followed by the hot water and let it brew for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, filter out the tea into a cup.

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Milk or Creamer
If you’re using our bubble tea kit, simply add one whole powder pack into the hot tea and stir to mix. You can also use approximately 50ml of fresh milk instead.

Hot or Cold
This is where you decide if you want to make a hot bubble tea or cold bubble tea. For hot drink, add approximately 200 ml of hot water. For cold drinks, add your ice and top up with cold water. For more fun, add the tea and powder mix into a cocktail shaker with ice, water and sugar (depending on how sweet you like your bubble tea). Give it a good shake then pour to serve.

All that’s left is to add the jumbo straw and you’re ready to start enjoying your bubble tea you made.

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Don’t Use Plastic Cups

What is Bisphenol A?

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Bisphenol A (BPA) is an organic synthetic compound used to make plastic containers for drinking bottles and cups. It is even used to make the protective coatings for canned food and drinks.

Is BPA in food harmful?

The concerns are that BPA is one of many endocrine disruptor substances that have the potential to interact with human hormone systems. Endocrine disruptor are linked to cancer including breast cancer, neurological or developmental issues and even late onset diabetes. BPA does not stay intact with the plastic. Small amount of BPA are known to transfer from the packaging into food and drinks. Scott Belcher, PhD, studies the effects of temperature on BPA and found that increase in temperature such as boiling hot water or microwaving plastic containers releases 55 times faster than cold water!

Why not ban BPA?

Canada have already banned the use of BPA in the manufacturing of baby bottles. Followed by France in January 2015. Other organisations including Breast Cancer UK are campaigning for the ban in United Kingdom.
In January 2015, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) assessed the potential of BPA to cause adverse effects and have concluded that the exposure level from our diet is considered safe. Multiple independent studies have shown that, even when consumed at high levels, BPA is rapidly absorbed, detoxified and eliminated from humans. However, long term studies are still being investigated to understand the long term exposure of BPA. To address this issue, EFSA have also lowered the tolerable daily intake (TDI) from 50 micrograms per kilogram of body weight per day (µg/kg of bw/day) to 4 µg/kg of bw/day. The TDI is the estimated quantity of a chemical substance that can be consumed daily over a lifetime without causing considerable risk to health. BPA in food containers are significantly below the new TDI and therefore is not a health concern to consumers of any age group. This includes unborn children, infants and pregnant mothers.

How to avoid BPA?

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Here are a few tips to reduce your exposure level to BPA.

  • More and more products are being promoted and labelled as BPA-free. Those that are not, look for the recycling number that marks what type of plastic is used. Code 7 “others” could possibly be made with BPA. Only codes 1, 2, 4 & 5 are food safe.

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  • Avoid drinking hot water using plastic containers and microwave safe plastics in microwaves. (It is unbelievable that some bubble tea store serve hot bubble tea in plastic cups!)
  • Avoid canned food and drinks
  • Drink from ceramic cups
  • Use alternatives such as metal cutlery (we’ve seen people use plastic spoons to mix their tea!).

Hopefully one day the Food Standard Agency (UK), European Food Safety Authority (Europe) and Food and Drug Administration (US) will one day enforce a total ban of BPA.

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Milk Curdling in Bubble Tea

We wanted to write an article on milk curdling after Hanye and I each ordered a taro milk tea, one cold and one hot. After four hours of walking around, I became thirsty and finally decided to pop the seal with my fat straw and took a massive gulp. My eyes lit up and I immediately spat it right out. Hanye was laughing away whilst drinking her cold bubble tea with no problem.

What’s in Milk?

Milk is made up of many different components including proteins, fat, sugar and water. The amount of each varies depending on individual animals, breed, stage of lactation, age and health. The average composition of cow milk from is: 87% Water, 4% fat, 3.4% protein, 4.8% lactose and 0.8% others including minerals.

What is curd?

The process of curdling is when the proteins in milk, specifically casein, binds together forming larger molecules (coagulate) and falls out of solution. In milk, casein quite happily floats around freely in its negatively charged state, repelling each other. When the pH falls, the charge on casein becomes neutral and binds together, which we can see. This occurs at acidic conditions of less than pH4.6. That is why when clumps are formed when adding lemon juice to milk. This is actually how cheese is made!

What about non-dairy creamer?

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Non-dairy creamer is similar to milk, except it does not contain lactose (sugar), hence why it is safe for those who are lactose intolerance without any nasty surprises.

In cold and room temperature, the curdling process is slowed down, however it is speeded up by heat, hence why I wasn’t able to drink my hot taro milk tea after 4 hours.

So! If you decide to order or make a hot milk tea, make sure you don’t leave it out too long otherwise you won’t get the same experience as a fresh hot milk tea.

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Is Bubble Tea Healthy?


How healthy is bubble tea?

We all know that drinking freshly brewed tea provides health benefits. But what about bubble tea? Is bubble tea healthy for us? As mentioned before, the usual components that makes up a classic bubble tea known as pearl milk tea are, black or green tea, tapioca, milk or creamer and fructose (sugar). Let’s dissect each ingredient and find out how healthy is bubble tea!

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Source: savageminds.org

Tea

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Emerging evidence have supported the wide range of healthy bubble tea benefits when consuming tea. Tea contains natural chemical compounds called polyphenol. These chemicals help reduce formation of free radicals in the body, protecting cells from damage. Free radicals are known to play a role in aging, metabolic health and numerous diseases. Various studies suggest that polyphenolic compounds such as catechins and theaflavins found in green and black tea respectively are associated with not only weight-loss but also preventing cardiovascular diseases, diabetic and even cancer. One other thing to mention is that tea contains less caffeine than coffee.

Tapioca Pearls

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Tapioca is a starch extracted from cassava root. It is mainly carbohydrate and contains at approximately 100 calories per serving. Although this will differ depending on recipe, but will usually be soak in syrup prior to serving. Tapioca are great for those who have Coeliac disease, common digestive condition where a person has an adverse reaction to gluten.

Milk

Many studies have suggested that adding milk to tea reduces the bioavailability (percentage absorbed into the body) of the polyphenols. Researcher proposed it could be the result of the proteins in the milk binding to these antioxidants, preventing absorption, however does not reduce their antioxidant activities. Whether it’s milk or non-dairy creamer, they both contain similar proteins and fat. Non-dairy is ideal for those who are lactose-intolerant – We’ll cover this more in a later post.

Sweetener

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Source: telegraph.co.uk

You need sugar for energy, but too much sugar increases your risk of weight gain and obesity. This is the one to watch out for if you’re counting calories. Approximately 1 gram of sugar is the same as 4 calories. If you’re ordering a fruity flavoured syrup bubble tea, which does not normally contain milk or creamer due to curdling reasons, would contain even more sugar than the classic pearl milk tea!

What are the healthy choices?

If you’re still worries about your calorie intake, but cannot resist the craving for bubble tea, we suggest a few alternative combinations to try out. If you’re looking for the ultimate healthy bubble tea, try having tea on its own, no milk, no sugar, no sweetener, no tapioca. But that would be too boring and it wouldn’t be a bubble tea. Try to reduce the amount of sugar in your bubble tea or leave it out entirely especially for fruity flavoured syrup bubble tea. Ask for soy-milk or non-dairy creamer if you’re lactose-intolerant. Try to resist ordering extra topping of tapioca.

If you find this post useful, please share this information with your friends!

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What Is bubble Tea? 珍珠奶茶

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Some say bubble tea is like a cross between milk shake and coffee. This colourful fruity tea-based drink originated in Taichung, Taiwan in 1980s. It comes in many variety of delicious flavours with combinations of hot or iced tea, milk or creamer and fruit flavours. It has taken Asia by storm with growing popularity all around the world. The drink is complemented with sweet, soft chewy tapioca balls, also known as boba or pearl which sits at the bottom of the drink. Every cup is served with a thick straw, giving a mouth full of tea and chewy balls, making it a great drink and snack combination.

Anatomy-of-Bubble-Tea

Source: detroitbubbletea.com

There are many variation of tea to choose from, black tea, green tea, Oolong,Jasmine and even earl grey depending on store. The most common being black milk tea. Different fruit flavours can be mixed with bubble tea, common fruits such as strawberry, apple to exotics fruits such as kumquat, lychee, honeydew and even taro, a root vegetable that is surprisingly sweet. With this amount of variety, creating your own unique favourite drink is unless.IMG_7284

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