Tag Archives: tea

A Sweet Spot Near Campus

To start my search for the best bakeries in New York City, I decided to begin with a local spot, easily accessible to Barnard and Columbia students, making it that much simpler to find the sweet treat you’ve been craving.

While en route to an Environmental Science lab at West Harlem Pier, I stumbled across Chokolat Patisserie at 122nd and Broadway and was intrigued by this little bakery and the assortment of pastries I could see from outside. I promised myself that I would have to return once I had some money in my pocket, and it turned into the perfect excuse to enjoy the brisk fall weather and indulge my sweet tooth.

Due to the patisserie’s proximity to campus, I had the chance to simply take a walk and clear my head without ever leaving the neighborhood or having to deal with the subway. Upon entering the space, I found it to be small, yet cozy and inviting, with sturdy wooden tables accompanied by the gentle murmur of small talk and the scent of freshly brewed tea. Because there are only three small tables within the patisserie, it is a better option to take your items to go, but if you come in at the right time, it could be used as a valuable study space.


The rows of pastries and desserts, including flourless chocolate cake, croissants, and crème brulee, drew me in, but it was the chocolate mousse cake that eventually caught my eye. Topped with chocolate and berries, the delicate dessert offered just enough sweetness to satisfy my craving and distract me – at least for the moment – from the stress of midterms.


While I came for the desserts, I stayed for the tea. As I am not well versed in the art of tea, I was initially overwhelmed by the rows of flavors – both traditional and unique – proudly displayed upon the blackboards, from Candy Apple Green to Hibiscus and Ginger Swiss Green. I quickly realized that the patisserie is very serious about its teas, giving customers the chance to choose the temperature and sweetness of their beverages and even the option to add bubbles or lychee jelly. Feeling adventurous, I chose the sweetened Pomegranate Jasmine Green and was presented with a steaming 16-ounce cup full of sweet yet tangy tea, with rich fruity undertones – all for only $4.


Although there is an abundance of bakeries in New York City, I recommend keeping Chokolat Patisserie on your radar as a local and inexpensive option to quickly grab a croissant or a large cup of tea to keep you warm during the upcoming months.


International Foods of NYC: Ethiopian

Hello and welcome to International Foods of NYC! New York City is an ethnic and cultural microcosm of the world around it and is one of the culinary capitals of the world. One can find nearly any kind of food walking the bustling streets. These international foods are just as quintessentially “New York” as a pastrami sandwich or bagel and lox. I decided to start this blog with a completely new type of cuisine that I had yet to try. I headed to down to Ethiopian restaurant Injera in the West Village, where the ambiance is relaxed, yet cheerful and the service is very attentive. It feels as if you are eating in someone’s home. The servers appear to be the owners and they care that you enjoy and eat the food properly.
Ethiopian food not only tastes delicious, but there is a ceremony to ripping the bread, scooping the sauce and quickly, without letting any sauce fall, putting the satisfying and flavorful bite into your mouth. This is the meal that you get to eat with your fingers without your parents scolding you. To start the meal off, we ordered meat sambussa, which is a triangle-shaped, meat-filled pastry. It came to the table very hot and freshly fried with a cooling yogurt sauce on the side. Juice spilled out with the first bite and immediately my taste buds were in heaven. It had the perfect crunch and oil-to-spice ratio.


As a main course we ordered a combination of the meat, chicken, and vegetable dishes to try as much variety as possible. This is where the meal becomes fun. All of the food is served on top of a large flatly laid out piece of injera, Ethiopian bread. The injera is moist and airy. Its texture is a cross between a crepe and crumpet. It does have a sour taste from its fermentation process that takes a little getting used to. At first, this taste threw me off, however, it compliments and balances out the heavy berbere flavor that is in many of the dishes. As I tasted each of the dishes, I noticed a similar taste in the ones that were usually a dark-brown color. Each of them contained berbere, which is a mixture of spices including garlic, chili pepper, basil, ginger, and other spices local to Ethiopia. It has a hot, even smoky, sort of taste, which is delicious, but overwhelming after a few bites. There were also dishes with lighter flavors, usually grilled meat or chicken in a sauce of sautéed tomatoes and onions. Most of the vegetable dishes did not contain berbere. I really liked the beet and cabbage dishes, which were both sweet, cooked with onions and garlic. The one dish I did not like was the blended split pea. There was an off-putting, almost marzipan-like flavor to it which I cannot quite pin down. It was the only dish I chose not to have another bite of.

The meal was concluded with a chocolate crème brûlée and Ethiopian tea. The crème brulee was light and creamy, but definitely not essential to the meal. If you are full, as we were, there is no need to finish with the crème brûlée. It does include a pepper-flavor in the sugar crust that comes in the aftertaste, which differentiates it from other crème brûlées. The Ethiopian tea is definitely worth ordering. It is a light herbal tea that really helps to settle all the flavors consumed earlier in the meal.


One warning, Ethiopian is food is best eaten at the restaurant. I brought home left overs, which I heated up the next day. It was a messy process. The injera underneath the food had become soggy and completely broke apart so everything was mixed together. Instead of enjoying each dish, there was one mélange of everything that was too spicy to be enjoyed.

The flavors are definitely unique to Ethiopian food. They are strong and it is possible that there are people who may not like it, but it is definitely worth a try. Both the food and the experience at Injera are worth the trip to the West Village. It was a treat to sit down for an Ethiopian meal and I plan to do it again.

Matcha Green Tea Smoothie

Ever since I my friend Claire introduced me to my first cup of Irish tea back when I was a sophomore in high school, I have been tea obsessed. I would bring chilled coolers of green tea to my softball games, carry a selection of tea packets in my purse, and make my family visit local teashops whenever traveling. By my senior year I was serving tea lattes and brewing pots of loose-leaf tea for customers at Sweet Tease, my hometown’s own tea and sweet shop.

Over the years I have strayed from flavored black teas and the sugared concentrates to the greens, whites, and herbal blends. While I became more aware of the health benefits of teas, I also began experimenting with the different ways I could use them. Soon I was making chamomile, blueberry green, and matcha green tea smoothies every other morning for breakfast- and I still do!

Matcha is an antioxidant powerhouse, packed with cancer-fighting and fat-burning chemical compounds. It transcends the health limits of green tea by which it involves consuming the whole leaf rather than just the brewed water. While the overall taste can be bitter, the recipe below takes a moment to make matcha a refreshing and lightly sweetened smoothie. And yes, it’s caffeinated!


1 frozen medium banana (peeled and cut into chunks before freezing)

1 cup of nondairy milk (almond, soy, rice)

1-2 tsp of matcha green tea powder (if you like a more subtle green tea flavor, I recommend only 1 tsp to start)

1 tsp honey


Additional Add-Ins (optional)

¼ cup of blueberries

1 scoop of originial RAW protein

1 cup of spinach



Put all the ingredients into the blender and blend. Pour into glasses and serve immediately.

“Another, Madam?”

I’m not entirely sure why the post I’m about to write was not my first of the summer. It would have made sense, you see, because I’m about to give an account of my culinary adventures in England, and I took a trip there at the end of May. I suppose when I first got back I was far too consumed missing it to actually sit down and be coherent enough to write it all down. Maybe it’s all the fuss about the royal baby, but as of late I’ve been feeling quite sentimental and decided it was high time to tell the story.

Just for some background, I spent ten days in England with my mom. Our main purpose was to go on a week long bike trip through the Cotswolds, but at my insistence my mom agreed to spend a couple days in London before we set off for Oxford, where the biking would begin. My mom loved the biking and the countryside and the all the pub food— the fish and chips, meat pies, all the cakes. I loved the cities— Bath and Stratford and Oxford and most of all, London. I got to go Shakespeare crazy, visit castles and underground cities, even spy on a garden party at Buckingham Palace. I had the most delicious rainbow trout of my life in Oxford, a chocolate and butter bread pudding that nearly made my head explode in Stratford, and several quite memorable meals in London including some rather spectacular Indian fare, a pre theater three course “lunch” complete with a chilled fennel soup amuse bouche, and naturally (and quite typically my favorite) high tea at the Landmark Hotel.

I hope not to sound too overdramatic but fear I will anyway when I say that high tea was an out of body experience. Just try and keep in mind that this is coming from a Harry Potter fanatic, an avid Downton Abbey watcher, someone who used the theme from the Sherlock Holmes movies as floor music. Don’t even get me started on British accents. Talk about melting me. And the logical part of me understands that most Brits don’t sit around every afternoon and sip tea in suits and frilly dresses. But the romantic part of me? Well, let’s just say I have a bit of an overactive imagination and leave it at that. I had a reservation for high tea a week before we left.

We ambled over to the Landmark after visiting 221b Baker Street. The hotel is really a rather beautiful place. That day London was gray, all fog and drizzle, which made for quite the atmosphere but also meant that I was freezing and having a very bad hair day. When we walked into the dining area, I was met by an open room filled with light streaming through a sunroof several stories above. The walls were painted in a creamy, cozy white. There was a harpist on a balcony overlooking the seating area. I swear there was even one diner wearing a suit and holding a pocket watch.

After being seated I decided on the “chocolate high tea” option, as one does, with a white peony tea. The tea came first, then the finger sandwiches: cucumber and cream cheese, smoked salmon, and chicken salad. Each time I would finish them our server would come over with another tray and say, “Another, Madam?” Needless to say, the poor boy was forced to make frequent trips across the room holding that heavy tray on his shoulder because it took me all of thirty seconds to scarf those down and I just couldn’t get enough. After finally having my fill of sandwiches, the quintessential three-tiered tray was served. The top tier held a basket with a mixture of plain and chocolate chip scones. These came with a selection of toppings, which included the freshest butter I’ve ever had, a kind of lemon custard preserve, and strawberry jam. The bottom two levels contained the same four bite sized desserts, one plate each for my mom and me. There was a salted chocolate and peanut butter tart, a spiced chocolate crème brûlée, a chocolate shell filled with a layer of creamy coconut and chocolate mousse and topped with a crunchy caramel crisp, and my favorite, a dense but somehow still fluffy chocolate cupcake topped with chilled lemon icing. I’m not one for putting lemon and chocolate together, but they definitely pulled it off.

I finished first and stared at my mom until she offered to let me finish her sweets. I didn’t even give my customary, “are you sure?” I just smiled greedily and pulled her plate towards mine. After I gobbled up the rest of the food I ruefully reflected that it might have been better to end the trip on this high note. My standards had just been pushed up so far I doubted anything could top this wonderful experience. Lucky for me, or maybe lucky for the British, there seemed to be an overabundance of sticky toffee pudding everywhere, so I can’t say I suffered too much. What I will say is that my phone background is still a cup of tea and my heart is still sitting at a table along with a scone and some butter and jam.

Moroccan Tea


Sweet and minty, a glass of Moroccan tea hits just the right spot after a long morning of labor and construction under the scorching sun. Often served with biscuits and nuts at the end of lunch, it was something I look forward to every day that not only satisfies my sweet tooth but also reenergizes me for the afternoon work. 

A few weeks ago, I got the opportunity to work on an Engineers Without Borders project—building a bridge in a rural village in Morocco. I can’t help but smile every time I say I’m building a bridge, but I’ll be honest here, it’s no big stone bridge like the Golden Gate in San Francisco or the George Washington in New York. In fact, it is a polymer rope suspension pedestrian bridge that is designed for the villagers of Ait Bayoud in an effort to bridge two villages and offer easy access to the market, schools, and the hospital.

But enough about the project, I’m here to share my Moroccan tea experience. 

Local Moroccans may live a simple life, but they do take pride in their tea—the quality, preparation, and custom. It’s almost like a show they put on. In comes the platter with a silver kettle surrounded by many colorfully patterned glasses. Then enters the mint, blocks of sugar cubes, and tea leaves. The kettle with water and tea leaves is placed on top of the buta-gas tank and allowed to boil to let out the natural fragrance; perhaps it’s their opening line to let the audience know that the show is about to begin. At this point, the eldest and most respected member of the family (the grandfather) would perform his duty; he pours the tea out a few feet from the rim of the glass and creates a lot of bubbles in the tea. But he only pours out two glasses… hmm, are we suppose to share these among a group of ten? Be patient, the show has barely started. Next, he pours the tea from the glass back into the kettle and adds in the fresh mint leaves and generously drops six to seven large sugar cubes. Our eyes open and our jaws drop; is that going to be too sweet? My answer is: no. At this point, he returns the kettle back on the gas tank and waits. He sits there with a smile on his face as if he thinks we can’t handle the sweetness or that he’s satisfied with the tea he’s about to serve. He takes the kettle off the heat and distributes the tea among all the glasses, effortlessly creating a waterfall from the mouth of the kettle to the bottom of the glass. Tea is served; the show is over.

The show may be over, but the tasting is yet to begin. A good quality tea is one that is well aerated and is layered with bubbles on the top. It is strong yet sweet with a touch of minty aftertaste. With its unique recipe, every household claims to make the best tea—whether it be stronger or sweeter or less mint flavored. I try to judge and make a preference, but at the end of the day, I know I just want to have a glass of the Moroccan tea and chew on a biscuit before heading back to work.


Weekend Getaways: Planning Ahead

This is just CRAAAAZY!
Thanks to a member tip, the Culinary Society was alerted about this great deal!

Two tickets to the Coffee and Tea Festival are being sold for a measely 20 bucks! So grab a friend and chip in $10 each and purchase your tickets here. You’ll save $30 off of regular admission! But hurry! The deal is only good for a couple more hours!

I know the festival is all the way on February 19-20, but it pays off to plan ahead. The festival will feature local, national, and international coffee and tea vendors (to include such favorites as Peet’s and Harney and Sons). There will also be an Ultimate Barista Challenge! The festival will be hosted down on 5th avenue and 34 th street.

Ginger Tea Recipe

This seemed to be a popular recipe at our tea event, so here it is!

Ginger Tea:


3 1/4 C ginger, 1/2 C fresh chopped ginger, cinnamon stick, 4 tbsp. loose black tea leaves (I like my tea dark), 1/2 C milk, 1/2 C condensed milk


1. Bring water and ginger to a boil. Stir in tea and cinnamon and cover. Let steep 5 minutes.

2. Stir in the two milks. Then pour through a sieve into a blender.

3. Blend until foamy and pour into mugs. (Careful hot liquids expand in the blender) May be sweetened with more condensed milk. It’s really good over ice too!