Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Food Pairings - Banana Honey Toast w/ Yiwu Tea

i) Simply eye catching! The ebene vegetable activated carbon sourdough by Maison Jean Philippe. ii) Baked and ready to be served.

Maison Jean Philippe is arguably the best bread maker in Bangkok. The breads are of excellent quality and are known for having a hard crust whilst being soft and elastic on the inside. A chunky slice provides an excellent base for which to spread a thick layer of butter to be topped by bananas and followed by a generous drizzle of honey. Bake until the banana absorbs the butter and honey and takes on a custard consistency. The flavor of the cooked banana infused with butter and honey pairs very well with the signature toffee and caramel (ish) character of age Yiwu tea.

This age Yiwu tea brewed grandpa style was left to steep for 5 minutes to produce a more concentrated tea. The additional strength of the brew serves to ensure that the sweet and rich flavors of the food would not be overpowering the tea. The extra astringency derived from the long steeping time assists to balance out the richness of the butter. 

A selection of honey to add sweetness to one's life.

Sharing My Experience with Honey - It is my belief that natural honey that is raw, unadulterated and with the minimum of processing have a great many benefits. Over the years I have tried many different varieties of honey that have been sourced from different countries and have been sold under different brands. From my experience the quality of honey varies significantly leading me to group honey into 3 main categories.

Category 3 – Honey under this category falls under the criteria of mass produced honey that is processed and packed in large quantities. The honey consists of your most common and available products that line the supermarket shelves. The products will often display great consistency in quality and taste however the characteristics will tend to be relatively simple and one dimensional. Furthermore products are inclined to undergo ultra filtration (to remove the source pollen), pasteurized (using high heat that kills off the natural enzymes of raw honey) and in some cases bulked up with additions of syrup or some form of sugar and additives. Consequently the above processing will reduce and destroy much of the natural benefits to be found in raw honey.

Category 2 – The criteria for honey under category 2 is based on a small to medium scale production that is supported by small production outfits and independent beekeepers. The range in quality varies greatly depending on the local environment (from which the bees gather their food), the professionalism of the people involved and the integrity of the production. Much of this kind of honey is sold locally and at farmers market. The attraction for purchasing local honey is in supporting local business and acquiring the peace of mind that comes from knowing exactly how and where your honey is produced and comes from respectively (local businesses that take pride in their product are quite friendly and open towards sharing how things are conducted).

Category 1 – The most memorable honey I have encountered is often from locals who are not beekeepers but honey collectors who venture out to remote areas (where the natural environment remains intact) and collect honey from wild beehives in the forest. An abundant and diverse food source that grows naturally makes forest honey more potent, possess a greater complexity of character and is less likely to be contaminated by pesticides and chemicals. As a result honey enthusiasts favor forest (or wild) honey over honey that is collected from a modern beekeeping operation that may be exposed to bad practices.

The human influence involved in beekeeping can sometimes touch on bad practices that incorporate feeding bees with blocks of sugar or bowls containing syrup. Furthermore beehives situated close to fruit orchards and modern farms that are heavily sprayed with insecticide and toxic chemicals are likely to contain trace elements of those very chemicals as the returning bees gets exposed and carry the chemicals back with them to the hive. The exposure and accumulation of these toxic chemicals by honey bees is believed to be a contributing factor towards the mass die off of bees (a phenomenon referred to as colony collapse disorder (CCD)). An article by The Guardian reports on a study by Harvard University linking neonicotionoids (a widely used class of insecticide) to CCD. For a number of years CCD has become increasingly widespread in America and Europe as well as globally. The consequences and threat of CCD does not only effect honey production but the production of much of the world’s agricultural produce which relies on bee pollination for fertilization to bear fruits.

I share with you a few videos (below) reporting on the plight of the vanishing bees and its threat to agriculture and food production. CCD is a very real concern and there are numerous articles and reports circulating on the Internet for those interested in digging deeper by way of Google or other means.

SciShow Channel - What's Happening to Honey Bees?

BBC Documentary - Who Killed the Honey Bees

Vanish of the Bees


  1. Just wanted to say that I thoroughly enjoy your posts and the wide range of topics linked to tea appreciation. Your "guide to pu'erh" is a pleasure to read. Please keep it up =)

    Are you on Instagram, by chance?

    1. Thank you Brian. I appreciate the feedback, there comes a time in a man’s life when praise cease to have an effect. I am far from reaching that point :)

      I am glad that you are enjoying the posts. I am only posting on Blogspot at the moment.

      Best, VP

  2. I saw in another article of yours, you use the Hindi name Amla for gooseberry. So, you probably heard of the ancient Indian medical science of Ayurveda, where it is mentioned, that eating heated honey leads to buildup of toxins in the body. Yes, I know that many people have been eating baked, roasted products made with honey, without any obvious ill-effects. Yet, it is hard to say what the long term effects are, so I would exercise caution.

    1. Thank you for the comment Voodoo.

      I notion of heated honey being toxic is a debate that has yet to be proven either way with clear facts or certainty (at least none that I am aware of). Honey has been around for a long time and we humans have been cooking with it for possibly centuries. Personally I would not be overly concerned about it unless you are consuming a lot and you are noticing negative symptoms from your body as a direct result. Obviously for the health conscious raw honey is most definitely much healthier.

      Best, VP