TeaGschwendner in Chicago

If you’re in Chicago and find yourself in need of a break after shopping on Michigan Avenue, take a brisk walk north and you’ll find TeaGschwendner, an artisan tea company based out of Germany. Here in the US, we’re lucky enough to have 2 TeaGschwendner shops both located in the Chicago area, but in Germany there are over 130 TeaGschwendner stores, and even few more scattered throughout Europe and the Middle East.

If you think you might get lost on the way over to the store, check out this clip by TeaGschwendner where you can figure out how to pronounce TeaGschwendner, just in case you need to ask for directions. Not only will you get a glimpse of Thomas Holz, the Master Tea Taster at TeaGschwendner, but the clip should also give you a new appreciation for tea selection, steeping, and of course, slurping!

Entering TeaGschwender is like entering a bank vault packed with fragrant tea-filled aluminum safe deposit boxes. Instead of finding money, gold watches, or a string of pearls inside each box, you’ll find some of the world’s most exclusive teas…drinkable treasures waiting to be discovered and revealed.

Despite TeaGschwendner’s exceptional reputation among seasoned tea drinkers, the staff are incredibly friendly, knowledgeable, not the least bit pretentious. On the day I visited, Ryan, the store manager, provided outstanding insight into the company’s teas and lead me to just the right blends to please both my palette and my pocketbook.

If you are a seasoned connoisseur of Indian and Chinese teas, the shop has a very impressive stock of teas from Darjeeling, Assam, Ceylon, and beyond. For aspiring connoisseurs like myself, there are some more modest blends to choose from, including Almond Milk (one of their new honeybush blends), Bamboo Pomelo (an award-winning herbal blend at the North American Tea Expo in 2013), and Asian Pear (a mild green tea with a soft pear essence…my favorite!).

If you need some more help choosing a blend, don’t hesitate to ask for a taste! Below is my “slice” of the Carrot Cake blenda tangy, spicy brew with large chunks of carrots, oranges, and raisins studded throughout.

The Black Oothu and Green Manjolai are teas grown in South India, in tea gardens located in the middle of a Bengal Tiger Reserve. These teas are the result of the company’s partnership with the Nature Conservation League of Germany, and part of the proceeds that come from these teas go towards helping endangered Royal Bengal Tigers in South India.

The shop on State Street isn’t that large, but it does hold a wide selection of tea wares from all around the world. I especially love TeaGschwendner’s signature teacups, which are very wide and shallow. It’s the type of teacup that takes an extra bit of finesse to drink out of, reminding you to slow down, savor, and take a break.

TeaGschwendner carries a few brands of rare gourmet chocolates, including these handsome bars from Mast Brothers, based out of New York. The only thing better than drinking tea is drinking tea with a complex piece of chocolate, and what a feast for the eyes these bars are!

Here’s a look at some of the colorful Moroccan teacups I found next to Japanese cast iron teapot displays at the store. Stay tuned…you’ll be seeing the blue cups reappear in one of my upcoming posts soon!

Part of the charm of this shop is that it allows you to travel the world through a cup of tea. If you are lucky enough to visit one of their shops here in the US or elsewhere abroad, TeaGschwendner’s excellent customer service and attention to detail are sure to leave you with a renewed appreciation for world-class teas.

TeaGschwendner 

1160 North State Street

Chicago, Illinois 60610

312.932.0639

Easter Bunny Stroopwafels

Who says chocolate bunnies are only for kids?

Let’s be honest, Easter isn’t Easter without a large chocolate bunny being involved.  These Easter Bunny Stroopwafels are the more enchanted version of those grand hollow Easter bunnies that children enjoy, with a measure of portion control thrown in.  What’s also great about these is that they make good use out of the unique and incredibly delicious Dutch stroopwafel!

Several months back I posted a recipe on tea bark, where fragrant green teas were scattered over thin layers of glossy dark chocolate.  For these Easter Bunny Stroopwafels, I used matcha infused white chocolate to set the stage for some grass-like imagery.  The matcha tea also helps to give the cookies an extra boost in green tea flavor.

When choosing which tea blend to use here, you want a green tea laced with lots of flowers and dried fruits.  Even just plain herbals like lavender and ripped rose buds work well.  Above all, you want to use a tea that is pleasantly fragrant and edible.

Teavana’s Sakura Allure is an ideal tea to use for these Easter Bunny Stroopwafels.  Aesthetically, this is a very beautiful, feminine looking tea, which is exactly why I chose it to use!  This blend is inspired by the cherry blossoms that bloom in Japan every spring.

Tasting Notes:

BREWING TIPS:  2 minutes at 175 degrees F.

THE LEAF:  Long, narrow, dark green tea leaves with chunks of dried cherries, dried mango, candied pineapple, orange peels, hibiscus, rose leaves, and rose buds thrown in.

THE SCENT:  A very strong cherry and floral scent.  I left some in my hot car after my run to Teavana, and the car smelled incredibly fruity by the time I returned!

THE STEEP:  This blend looks and tastes very much like fruit punch.  Since there are many fruits and herbal flowers added in, the caffeine content is lower, so this blend is good for kids or those who are caffeine-sensitive.

*** The thing you need to remember if you use Sakura Allure for this little project is that the dried cherries in the tea are not pitted.  Pit and cut the large dried cherries into little tiny bits before using them to make the tea bark.  The cherries are easy to spot in the blend–they are large, sticky, speckled black clumps.

bunny stroopwafel from aboveEaster Bunny Stroopwafels make an easy and elegant after-brunch dessert.  Enjoy them with a hot, fruity cup of brewed Sakura Allure so that your guests can try the tea in two ways–dried and brewed!  These Easter-themed stroopwafels help to capture a lovely image of the season, reminding us that spring is a time for fresh starts and new beginnings.

And with that, I would like to wish all my blog readers out there a very Happy Easter!!

Easter Bunny Stroopwafels

Makes 6 decorated stroopwafels.

Ingredients:

6 stroopwafels

6 small chocolate bunnies (I used Lindt)

6 small pastel-colored chocolate Easter eggs (I used Cadbury Minis)

1/4 cup white chocolate or candy melts

1 tsp matcha green tea powder

2 Tbsp of a floral, fruity, and fragrant loose-leaf green tea (I used Teavana’s Sakura Allure), plus more for brewing

Equipment:

teacups, with diameter same or less than stroopwafels

baker’s twine or thin decorative ribbon, cut into 8″ pieces

scissors

Instructions:

1.)  Melt the white chocolate or candy melts in the microwave or over a double boiler.  Add in the matcha and mix until the chocolate is an even green color.

2.)  Place 2-3 tsp of the green tea melted chocolate in the top middle of each stroopwafel.  Smooth over the chocolate evenly so that you leave a 1/4″ border all around the top circumference of the stroopwafel.

3.)  Lightly scatter the green tea blend atop the setting green tea chocolate.

4.)  Place an unwrapped chocolate bunny in the center of the stroopwafel, and an egg beside the bunny.  Allow a few minutes for the chocolate to set.

5.) Using baker’s twine or thin string, tie a bow around the neck of each chocolate bunny.  Snip off excess ribbon.  When it’s time to serve, place the stroopwafels atop a teacup filled with the same Sakura Allure you used to make the bark.  Enjoy!