Pu-Erh Tea Spice Rub


As the air gets a little crisp and for us living by the mountains, yes it has been a little crisp this past week despite the beautiful sunshine which makes perfect fall weather, my thoughts have turned to all things Autumn. There’s something about fall that makes me want to nest – hoodies, blankets, warm food and drinks. All I’ve wanted to do was curl up on the couch, drinking tea, watching Netflix (yay new season of Once Upon a Time!), while knitting ALL the things! Today is the first day we have cloud cover and I’ve had to turn the light on in the office. When this happens I want to start eating warming foods and spices and nothing can beat that by a nice spice rub.

Pu-erh is a unique tea and I say that mildly. I was introduced to it on my first day of TAC’s tea sommelier program and with one whiff I knew I wouldn’t like it. My nose is incredibly sensitive to mold and that first cup of pu-erh reminded me of a museum full of musty aging items. In fact I recall describing it after my first sip like, “that canoe found in an old peat mog Bob and I saw in the National Museum of Ireland.” It’s always interesting how our senses can take us back with pin point precision to a random memory.


That’s not the greatest way to convince you to try this rub right? Haha

The more I’ve had to drink it the more it’s starting to grow on me. Pu-erh has a very unique earthy taste that I find you either love it or hate it when it’s prepared as an infusion. Using it in cooking is another thing entirely. That musty old smell completely disappears and instead an earthy umami flavour comes forth. Pair that with spicy cayenne pepper and peppercorns with the sweetness of five spice and allspice powder and it all combines magically into a unique spice rub for any type of meat. Here I’ve rubbed down a pork loin roasted it with apples and potatoes, but pairing it with a grilled flank or skirt steak would be amazing.

Pu-Erh Tea Spice Rub
  • 1 tbsp Pu-erh loose leaf tea
  • 1 tbsp Sea salt
  • 1 tbsp Chinese five spice, powdered
  • 1.5 tsp Allspice, powdered
  • 1.5 tsp Cayenne pepper, powdered
  • 1 tsp Ground black pepper
  1. In a coffee grinder or mortar and pestle, place the pu-erh tea and grind it into a powder. Dump into a bowl and add the rest of the ingredients. Mix together. Store in a sealed container and use when needed.
  2. For example, I used this on a small pork roast to give the mild pork some zing or you could add it to a flank steak and grill it on the BBQ.

If you make this, let me see! Tag your photo with #teawithmeblog on Instagram.


What is Tea?

Just like any interest – health, design, food, etc., when we delve into it deeply we assume everyone knows what we know. So it took me by surprise when I had asked my Mum months back to get, “plain black tea bags,” (I think it was for sun tea) she wasn’t sure what that meant. For the generic grocery store brand just said ‘tea’ on the label which confused her. This post and page combination came from having multiple people tell me they were surprised to find out that all tea came from the same plant.

So for the people who aren’t quite sure what consists of tea, this post is for you.

The Legend

A Chinese legend puts the discovery of tea in the year 2737 BC. Shen Nong, a legendary emperor, decreed everyone must boil their water for health reasons. It is said that one day he sat in the shade of a tree waiting for his water to boil when a couple of leaves fell in. The resulting brew was delicious and he was captivated; tea was born.

Simply put tea is made from the leaves of the camellia sinensis plant found native in Asia. There are two main varieties; var. sinensis which was found in China and var. assamica which was found in the Assam region of India. The tolerance to low temperatures and higher altitudes give var. sinensis an advantage to growing in places like Japan and China. It also has a somewhat perfumed aroma with little body. Whereas the var. assamica is resistant to monsoon like conditions and does well in places like India and Sri Lanka. This variety will have more body and briskness.

Tea Types

Novice tea drinkers are surprised to find out that white, green, oolong, black, and pu-erh tea all come from the same plant – camellia sinensis. There are slightly different production methods that are applied to the leaves to get a variety of flavours from one plant such as withering, oxidation, and fermenting. These methods make the final product look different not just in colour, but in texture.

Click an image below to learn more about a specific tea.

  • white-tea-thumbnailWhite
  • green-tea-thumbnailGreen
  • oolong-tea-thumbnailOolong
  • black-tea-thumbnailBlack
  • pu-erh-tea-thumbnailPu-erh

Tea, Tisane or Decoction

I find these words are used throughout the marketing of tea like products. For example, tisanes are usually called herbal teas despite the fact they don’t have any proper “tea” in it. The word tea has almost become synonymous with brewing any herb in water, but in fact true tea is made with the camellia sinensis bush. Here’s a little breakdown of the difference:

  • Tea – A product created from the Camellia Sinensis bush such as white, green, oolong, black, or pu-erh tea.
  • Tisane – Usually known as herbal tea which is created from the leaf or floral parts of herbs such as peppermint or chamomile, they do not contain any camellia sinensis.
  • Decoction – Usually lumped in with herbal teas when found at most natural stores, but technically these, in the herbalist world, are known as a decoction since they need a longer brewing time. They are made from the roots or bark of plants such as licorice or ginseng.

Now that you have gained some insight to what defines tea, go out to your local tea shop and try some new teas.

Tea is the second highest drunk beverage in the world behind water. It has the ability to calm us when things are rough, warm us during a rainy day, and energize us to meet a deadline. It has such a variety of flavours and nuances over the typical black tea with milk and sugar. It also has the ability to help with our health physical and mental. Hopefully this post clears some things up to where you feel comfortable going to your local tea shop and trying some new teas you’ve never dared before.

Did I leave something out that you want clarified? Leave me a comment!

London Fog Cake & A Birthday!


About a month and a bit ago I had a major blonde moment. I laugh at myself and tell people I’m allowed to call silly moments as such because I have a legitimate excuse (blonde hair), but usually those moments last only a few minutes or so.

I’ve never forgotten my own age before.

Yes, you read that right.

I was looking at my Facebook page and noticed that it told me I was 27; I thought that couldn’t be possible because I would be turning 29 in a month. I’m currently 28; FB really dropped the ball on their math programming, what’s going on?? I was so sure that Facebook was incorrect that I almost made a status, because everything must be true and important if we make a FB status about it right? I am so thankful I didn’t because clearly I was the one doing the math wrong. This is why I didn’t pass math 12 folks! Just kidding!

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The Best way to Bake with Tea


Doing a google search for, “How to Bake with Tea,” jumps you through the rabbit hole with nothing delicious on the other end; just scraps of information with nothing concrete. Half the searches give you links to other recipes just featuring tea (yeah I know that thanks that’s why I’m here), then there are some telling you to grind your tea with sugar or just dump a tea bag right into the batter. Some ask you to infuse in water, milk, or butter, but it seems no one can agree on the best way to get tea flavour into a baked good.

The main focus seems to be using tea bags and dumping that right into the batter. Sure dumping a tea bag into batter may give you a freckled look to your cake that can look pretty, but a) tea bags can be old so there’s not a lot of flavour and b) most importantly, this doesn’t give the leaf time to give up its flavour.  It may work on chai’s because it’s a mixture of spices and black tea and we already throw ground cinnamon, nutmeg, and other spices into our batter so it makes sense chai spice anything works. When you want to go deeper into the tea world and use floral oolongs, vegetal green teas, or even regular earl grey this method doesn’t work.

Tea essentially is just flavoured water. We take something, we place it into hot water and let it brew and then we remove the leaves leaving all the flavonals, antioxidants, and other good stuff in the water. It’s essentially an infusion. Placing tea into a batter that has flour, eggs, sugar, and fat isn’t a proper environment for tea to release its flavour; no infusion occurs.  Which is why when you just dump a black tea bag (please remove paper first!) into batter your final result can be subpar.

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Earl Grey Blackberry & Raspberry Sauce


Being lactose intolerant summer treats can be the bane of our existence. It’s hard finding a cool treat that doesn’t involve fruit while everyone everywhere are licking away at something scooped into a waffle cone because really who bothers with ice cream without getting a waffle cone? Pieces of fruit, yet healthy, can be boring and who wants to turn on the oven in this heat? Unless you’re crazy, like I am and oddly get all these baking ideas in the middle of summer.

This recipe isn’t an actual ice cream recipe, so why exactly am I talking about ice cream? And why do I keep asking questions? Well, when I spooned this sauce over a bowl of vanilla ice cream, because you know it would take pretty pictures not that I really wanted a bowl of super sweet cream (I have my priorities straight). I was immediately transported back in time. If only it was a la Marty.

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