Recipe: Matcha White Hot Chocolate

Some people argue that white chocolate isn’t real chocolate, because it doesn’t actually contain cocao solids. But then, there are people who call it chamomile tea and peppermint tea – and you don’t see me waving a pitchfork at them for the misuse of the word tea instead of tisane…

It’s been chilly in Canada lately. You might have heard of the three snow storms that British Columbia was subjected to last week, or the State of Emergency called in Newfoundland & Labrador (that’s the east coast for you!)… So what better excuse is there for me than to stay home with a cup of hot chocolate? And since it’s me being me, I had to be a little bit extra and fancy with it… and make it a Matcha White Hot Chocolate.

And I’ve already got the recipe ready to go so you can make two cups! One for you, and one for your equally matcha-obsessed love (or friend).

Matcha White Hot Chocolate – Serves 2

2 cups milk¹
½-⅓ cup white chocolate chips²
2 tbs matcha (sifted)³

Optional Garnish Ideas:
Whipped cream
Candy canes
Sifted matcha
White chocolate shavings
Miniature marshmallows

¹ I used unsweetened soy milk for mine, you can opt to use dairy or dairy-free alternatives.
² If you can’t find white chocolate chips at your local grocery store, a high quality white chocolate bar (chopped!) will work as well. Bonus, you can eat the leftovers. You can also use regular sweetened chocolate chips, but the colour (and flavour) definitely won’t be the same.
³ There are so many types of matcha out there! I would recommend using a traditional matcha (100% matcha, no additives or “drink mixes”). I used Whisk Premium Matcha’s Everyday in making this recipe.

In a medium-sized sauce pan, over medium heat, put in all the ingredients – don’t forget to sift the matcha for some anti-clumping action.
Whisk until chocolate chips are melted and well incorporated.
Do not allow the mixture to boil!
Once everything is heated and well-mixed, pour into mugs.
Top with optional garnish(es).

If you make this Matcha White Hot Chocolate, I’d love to see your photos! Be sure to tag me on Instagram (@onemoresteep #onemoresteep) or comment below with a link to the photo!

Pin this recipe for later!

Single Estate vs. Blended Teas

Single estate or single origin teas are, for lack of way of saying it, simply teas that are produced from a single tea farm. This generally applies to traditional or straight teas that are grown and processed by a tea farmer. Some tea companies may mention that their products come from a specific farm, city, or region and some even include the name of the tea farmer and some history of the farm itself – like how long its been in business for, how many generations of tea farmers have worked the land, etc.

Blended teas are not just teas that consist of a variety of ingredients – like my tea stash staple, Earl Grey. Earl Grey typically consists of black tea and bergamot oil. On occasion, an Earl Grey blend might also include lavender, vanilla, or cornflower petals. But for a blend like Earl Grey – and honestly, most other tea blends, the ingredients will originate from a variety of locations are were brought together by the tea producer. A blended tea can also be a typical grocery store brand that’s prepackaged into tea bags. That classic Orange Pekoe might be a black tea, and you’ll get a country of origin on the packaging, but you don’t really know where it came from – and the tea itself might be sourced from many different farms.

Are there pros to buying a single origin or single estate tea versus a blend?

For starters, you’re able to trace back where the tea came from if the tea company provides you with this information. You might be able to find out that the tea comes from a farm that is fair-trade, has initiative on the local level to provide good wages to the people who work the farms, and you might find out that the farm is certified organic. You might also find out none of these things beyond the fact that the tea comes from a specific city/region or farm. Single estate teas are often more expensive, and it’s not hard to see why. You get more information, and with that added transparency is the fact that there may be more labour involved with your tea. Think blooming teas, dragon pearls, and other hand-rolled teas that you might have in your stash.

Blends are often cheaper because they compile teas from a variety of areas to produce the product. Either mixing together black teas from a variety of farms, or ingredients that may be cheaper than the tea leaves itself – which results in a bulked up tea blend that is cheaper to produce, and potentially heavier in weight. Not that there is anything wrong with drinking a nice blend, but those dried fruit pieces are just so heavy!

That said, the curious thing about single origin teas is that variation in weather and soil quality may produce a very different tasting tea year after year. While you might get a delicate, sweet green tea one spring, the spring harvest the following year might end up being a bit more astringent with umami notes. With a tea blend, there’s potential for more consistency in flavouring because you’re bringing together tea from a variety of regions so the subtle changes in a single tea farm’s product isn’t as obvious as when you’re drinking a tea produced from a single location. Being able to provide consumers with a consistent tasting product is one of the reasons why so many people regularly pick up a box of Red Rose at the grocery store – myself included. The flavour tastes the same now as it did when I was a younger child and that’s one of the reasons why I still buy it – childhood nostalgia is a very powerful motivator! But the changes from season to season, year to year, for a single estate tea is also one of the reasons why I will be curious and interested in trying a first flush and a second flush Darjeeling tea – because the flavours will be just that different.

So what does this all boil down to? Drink your tea, and enjoy it!

If price and consistency year after year is a concern, blends are certainly an excellent option. If you’re able to afford single origin, you’ll get to experience the nuances in the change in the flavours from each harvest, which can make for a fantastic cup of tea. Just keep in mind, that not all single origin teas are from fair trade locations or organic – you’ll have to do some research on your own or contact the tea company for information on what you might wan to know.

Recipe: Chai Spiced Sugar Cookies

If you’ve been a One More Steep reader for a while, you’ll know that I tend to share a new cookie recipe every December. I work in acute medicine with a fantastic group of nurses and other healthcare professionals. One of our annual holiday activities includes a cookie exchange among staff and ever since I started working there, I’ve brought in a tea related cookie. This holiday season is my last with this amazing group of individuals, so I’ve pulled out all the stops with my contribution to this year’s cookie exchange: Chai Spiced Sugar Cookies.

My previous cookie recipes included: Earl Grey Shortbread Cookies, Matcha Sugar Cookies, and Matcha White Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Chai Spiced Sugar Cookies
Yields: 4 dozen.
Baking Time: 8 minutes.

Chai Spice Mix
2 tbs ground cardamom
1 tbs cinnamon
1 tbs ground nutmeg
1 tbs ground ginger
½ tbs ground black pepper

Cookie Dough
1½ cups powdered sugar
1 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
2½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tbs Chai Spice Mix¹

Vanilla Glaze
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1-2 tsp water

¹ This is a great spice blend if you want to create some chai latte magic at home! You’ll get bonus points if you make a chai spice blend from scratch with whole or freshly ground spices. If you buy ground spices, make sure they’re in a dry, air-tight container so they can keep longer!

My Chai Spice Mix is a very similar blend to the Pumpkin Spice Mix that I shared earlier this year in my Pumpkin Spice Chai Latte recipe, but the ratios are a bit different as it’s more cardamom heavy and it includes black pepper (which I do freshly grind because I’ve got a pepper grinder in my kitchen).

Prepare Chai Spice Mix
Mix all ingredients together.
Store in air-tight glass container.

Make Those Cookies
Beat powdered sugar, butter, vanilla extract, and eggs together until well blended.
Mix in flour, baking soda, and Chai Spice Mix.
Cover and refrigerate for approximately 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Roll out dough to approximately ¼” thick, cut into shapes with cookie cutters.
On cookie sheets, lay out cookies at least 1″ apart.
Bake 8 minutes or until edges are light brown.
Remove from cookie sheets to cooling racks after 2-3 minutes out of the oven.

Recipe adapted from Betty Crocker The Big Book of Cookies, “Sugar Cookies”.

Vanilla Glaze / Decorate!
Mix powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and water together.
Add water slowly as you mix. You want it to be thin enough to drizzle, but not so thin that it’ll just run off. (I’m so technical, I know.)
Drizzle icing on the cookies – you can use a fork or toothpick (or scoop the glaze into a zip-top bag and snip the corner and get really fancy).
Allow glaze to dry and set before you stack or package the cookies.

If you make these delicious Chai Spiced Sugar Cookies, I’d love to see your photos! Be sure to tag me on Instagram (@onemoresteep #onemoresteep) or comment below with a link to the photo!