Hong Kong Milk Tea Popsicles

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Hong Kong Milk Tea Popsicles
Hong Kong Milk Tea Popsicles

It seems like the rest of the country is rejoicing in 65 degree weather, chunky sweaters, and pumpkin flavored everything. While here in typically-foggy San Francisco, our weird Indian Summer is just starting. It was 106 degrees over the weekend. 106 freaking degrees!!!!! Gah. It makes me hot just thinking about. It was the hottest it had ever been in the city EVER. Friday and Saturday were absolutely miserable. Your only options were:

A. Sit around your apartment in your underwear with the fan blowing on you while covered in ice packs.

B. Go to the mall or the movies.

C. Perish.

We opted for A and B. We made it to about 1pm on Saturday until we started to get delirious. So we reluctantly put some clothes on, rented a Zipcar with AC, and drove out of the city to do basic suburban things, like go to Target, walk around the mall, and stand in the freezer section of Whole Foods. It was wonderful and made my inner soccer mom very happy! It has thankfully cooled down quite a bit since then. It looks like it's going to be in the 70s for the next week or so. Which in theory sounds great... I just need to get some more summer duds into my cardigan and sweater heavy wardrobe. Hi arms! Nice to see you guys again!

The moment the temperature started to creep into the high 70s I was thinking of popsicles. There was no way I would have survived this hot-as-balls weekend without these Hong Kong Milk Tea Popsicles. They were air conditioning on a stick basically. I grew up drinking Hong Kong Milk Tea, either the store bought canned/juice box versions or the real deal panty hose strained versions in Hong Kong. It is a simple combo of strong black tea (preferably ceylon tea) with condensed milk or evaporated milk. It's seriously the easiest thing to make. Also, guess people also call it "pantyhose milk tea" because they strain the tea leaves through pantyhose to get it's characteristically super smooth texture. I don't own or wear pantyhose so I'm just going to stick to the more conventional tea bag method. 

One of my absolute favorite things to do in Hong Kong is getting lunch at a loud Chinese diner. I order a simple fried egg sandwich on fluffy milk bread and an iced milk tea, maybe some noodles too. It's so simple and so good. Then I would probably run around for a little until I'm hungry again and find some dumplings or and egg waffle. The flavors of these popsicles made me want to go back to Hong Kong so bad! Reuben and I are trying to plan our next international trip for next year and I'm pushing for Japan and/or Hong Kong real hard. Reuben wants to go to Italy... not a terrible option. But flights to HK are so affordable and easy from San Francisco! I'm just going to continue making Reuben my favorite Hong Kong favorites and brainwash him into wanting to go to Asia. Heh heh heh. Think about all the noodles and dim sum, Reuby!

Anyways, if you're still burning up on the West Coast you better make a batch of these, stat! Even if the temperature is cooling down where you are, summer is not technically over. It's still totally socially acceptable to make popsicles! Enjoy the rest of the week, peeps!


Hong Kong Milk Tea Popsicles

makes 10 popsicles

Materials:

2 ceylon tea bags

2 cups hot water - almost boiling

1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk

3/4 cup half and half

1/2 tsp vanilla

Steps:

1. Pour hot water over tea bags in a heat proof vessel and allow to steep for 4-5 minutes. I like my tea a little dark so I let it steep on the longer side.

2. Whisk in sweetened condensed milk until evenly incorporated into the tea. You can add more or less depending on personal taste preference.

3. Pour milk tea into popsicle molds, leaving about 1/2" at the top of the mold. Place in the freezer and allow them to set up for 1 hour.

4. Whisk together half and half with vanilla. Pour half and half into the remaining portion of the popsicle molds. Use a popsicle stick to gentle mix up the half and half with paritially frozen milk tea. Place popsicle sticks into the mold and place popsicles back into the freezer for at least another 4 hours to set up.

5. Enjoy!

Peach Oolong Tea Popsicles

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Happy first day of Summer! Happy Birthday to Momma Cho! I've always loved how those two days are the same, double the reason to celebrate! I spent about 75% of my waking hours outside in the sun this weekend, which is what everyone should be doing in preparation for summer. My shoulders were the color of tomatoes, but it was so worth it. It has been HOT in San Francisco this past week. Hot in SF = +70 degrees. My mom says it has been +90 in Ohio... we are wimps. This heat reminds me of summers in Ohio. When my brother and I were growing up at our family's restaurant we would keep cool by eat popsicles and running into our giant walk-in refrigerators. I remember walking in there and snacking on little bits of carrots and cooked roast pork. *Making a note to incorporate a walk-in fridge/freezer into the design of our future home.

On Saturday, we walked on over to Mountain Lake Park to check out the new playground. Reuben's coworker redesigned the new playground and it is so fun and colorful! I haven't been surrounded by that many kids in a very long time. I feel like I was being super creepy and staring at all the cute toddlers stumbling around and hoping they would walk over to me to play. I saw essentially my mini me and I wanted to be her friend so bad. Once we got our fill of kids and watching them wipe out on the big concrete slide, we headed down south for some rare time at the beach. It has been a while since we drove along the coast and saw the ocean. I often forget that I live in California when all I see most days is the stretch between Inner Richmond and Downtown. So it was a beautiful reminder that I live in a cool place : )

Sunday was picnic day. A great group of ladies and I get together for a Babes brunch every month or so and this month was a picnic edition! I look forward to these brunches so much. I love catching up with my girls and meeting the new babes that we invite each time. We found an amazing shady spot in the San Francisco Botanical Gardens to spend our afternoon. Did you know you can go in for free if your driver's license has an SF address?? Some how I did not, but now I want to go every weekend. It's gorgeous when the sun is out and it's not super crowded like Dolores Park. It's much more "civilized" than Dolores Park as well and less smells. Reuben was a little jealous of my sunny girl time so we went out for a Babes Picnic part 2 during the remaining hours of light. We drank beer and played soccer... I never play soccer.

I'm feeling great from maxing out on vitamin D and my shoulders are gradually settling into a nice tan. The heat is supposed to last until this weekend and then it will go back to a cool 65. To help cool down all week I made these refreshing Peach Oolong Tea Popsicles. Yes, a second stone fruit recipe. Yes, another tea based recipe. Peaches, plums, nectarines, and pluots are really delicious right now. So eat as many as you can! If you are food nerdy and want to learn more about oolong tea, read this. I've been really interested in experimenting with tea flavors (see Mango Green Tea Popsicles and Oolong Tea Sugar Cookies). I have dreams of making a Jasmine tea cake very soon.  I personally, love oolong because of it's strong and slightly caramel-y flavor. It's a pretty great replacement for coffee too if you want a rich and dark tea in the morning. It pairs beautifully with the sweetness of peaches. This makes a gorgeous peachy colored simple syrup that would be delicious in so many other recipes! I had a pop during my commute to work the other day and it was great. Breakfast popsicles should be a thing.

I hope you all are keeping cool wherever you are! I need a friend with a pool.


Peach Oolong Tea Popsicles

makes 10 popsicles

Steps:

1. Remove the pit from 2 peaches and thinly slice. Bring peaches, sugar, and 1 cup of water to a boil in a small saucepan. Boil for 5 minutes and gently crush the peaches with back of a wooden spoon to bring out that peach flavor. After 5 minutes, turn off the heat and cover with a lid. Let the peaches steep in the sugar water for 20-30 minutes. Strain the peach infused simple syrup through a fine mesh strainer and dispose of leftover peach flesh or eat it with dessert.

2. Brew your oolong tea by steeping the tea in 2 cups of boiling water for 8-10 minutes. Dispose of tea bags. In a large pitcher or measuring cup, combine tea with 3/4 c of peach simple syrup. You can add more or less depending on sweetness preference.

3. Remove the pit and thinly slice your remaining peach. Add 2-3 slices of peach to each popsicle mold. Fill each mold with peach oolong tea. Place in the freezer for 1 hour. Add wooden popsicle sticks and place back in the freezer to fulling freeze for atleast 5 hours .

Materials:

3 ripe peaches

1 C water (for simple syrup)

1 C sugar

3 oolong teabags 

3 C water (for tea)

Mango Green Tea Popsicles

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A few summers ago, I was living and working in Beijing, China. I had just graduated from undergrad and I was actually trying to find an architecture internship in Cincinnati for the summer to give myself a chance to relax a little before starting grad school. The firm I was interviewing with asked me if I wanted to work in their China office for the summer. "Uh, cheah!" All of a sudden I was packed up and flying half way across the world to a small studio apartment in Beijing with a circle bed. My summer there was weird, crazy, and amazing. I lived 2 minutes walking from a steamed bun stall where 3 buns cost $1 USD. Do I need to say more?

I have a lot of stories of my time in China that I want to share here, but for today I'm going to tell you about the one time I climbed the Great Wall of China and got a popsicle. I went on a hiking trip to a more "rustic" section of the wall with some work ladies. Early one morning, we met up at a subway stop I couldn't tell you the name of and wandered around the sidewalk searching for a driver to take us to the wall (when ever I type the wall I just imagine game of thrones). Searching for a driver to take you on out of city excursions is really common. I did this a few times that summer. There are guys with vans waiting at the outermost subway stops with their doors open waiting for hikers in need of rides to the countryside. Okay, that sounds really bad but I promise you (Dad) that is was fine! I don't recommend this method if you can't speak mandarin though!

We paid our driver, packed into the van, and made our way to the wall! It was a super sunny and hot day and I was ready with my inhaler. However, I was not ready for how crumbly this portion of the wall was going to be.  I'm a complete klutz by the way. So I definitely felt like my legs were about to give out at a lot of spots along the hike and I clung to any stable portion of wall I could. I just remember feeling so hot and achy by the time we got to the top-ish portion of our hike. I was thankful to have not fallen off to my death and miraculously there was an older asian man in a sun hat selling popsicles. WHAT?!  There's popsicles up here?! This old skinny man hikes this everyday with a big cooler on his back to sell popsicles to hikers?! And I'm 22 and about to have an asthma attack?! Lots of questions. But I was thankful for this man and his popsicles. I can't even remember what flavor it was. That summer I was obsessed with these odd fruity yogurt popsicles that I could never figure out the name of, so it might have been those. Does anyone know what I'm talking about? 

That popsicle tasted like bliss despite whatever flavor it was. How often do you get to enjoy a popsicle on top of the Great Wall of China and not be surrounded by tourists? Unless your the popsicle man, almost never. It was an incredible experience with an even better view. Look at those lush mountains! We finished out popsicles, explored some abandoned watch towers, and made our descent back to the village where our driver was waiting for us. I didn't fall and I made it back to my circle bed in one piece. I hope that popsicle man is doing well and still making out of shape foreign hikers, like myself, incredibly happy.

So thats my quick story about popsicles and climbing the Great Wall of China! Now, lets talk about these here Mango Green Tea Popsicles. I have one last popsicle remaining in my freezer from this batch and I'll probably have it later today with the weather being so nice and sunny. They are so bright and refreshing! If I was in Ohio, where it actually feels like summe, I'd be eating 2 of these a day. The green tea is more like a slightly sweet green tea lemonade and the mango gets really creamy once its frozen. So good! I've also been buying a million champagne mangos a week, so this is a way to make sure I don't waste a single one!

Maybe I should start a business of packaging these popsicles in a cooler, climbing up to Mt. Tam and selling them to millennial hikers? I'd probably make no money but have killer calves. Doesn't sound terrible. 

PS. I start my new job tomorrow. I feel like summer vacation is over. Ah!


Mango Green Tea Popsicles

makes 10 popsicles

Steps:

1. In a large pitcher or bowl, steep 3 green tea bags in 3 cups of hot water for 5-7 minutes. Discard tea bags and add the juice of 2 lemons and sugar. Give it a quick stir.

2. Peel your mango. Slice the mango around the pit into 2 meaty halves, slice about 1/4" left and right of the center of the mango. You'll be able to tell if you're cutting into the pit. Place the half flat side down on your cutting board and slice into thin slices, about 1/8" thick.

3. Add a few slices of mango to each popsicle mold. The mango slices will actually adhere a little to the sides of the mold which make placement really easy, the mango slices just slide down the sides.

4. Pour green tea into each popsicle mold. Place in the freezer for 1 hour. After an hour add popsicle sticks and pop back in the freezer for 5 hours until frozen solid. Enjoy!

* run the popsicle molds under hot water to help get the popsicles out of the molds!

Materials:

1 ripe mango

3 green tea bags - I used Mighty Leaf Tropical Green Tea

3 cups of hot water

2 lemons

3 tsp sugar