2015 Yes! Food Fest stops in Beijing

The 2015 YES! Food Fest stopped in Beijing over the weekend at Today Art Museum, giving visitors a taste of the art of living and gastronomy.

One of the latest exhibitions at the Today Art Museum is a life-size indoor market complete with grocers, bakers and flower shops.

Art patrons, expats and gourmets throng the 2,000-square meter gallery, which features fine and exotic food from around the world. Most of the products on offer are all-natural, organic or fair-trade, reflecting the public demand for cleaner and safer food.

1949 is a new-concept Japanese restaurant in Beijing with an emphasis on healthy living. Max Levy is the owner and chef. He puts a lot of care into selecting ingredients that are fresh and natural, and sources pork from remote villages in Southwest Guizhou province.

“We focus on finding really good ingredients throughout China, but mostly by small producers who take a lot of care in producing the things they do, whether it’s pigs or cows, vegetables. And we try to produce them into processed products so that we can have them here in Beijing, so that people can enjoy really good hand-crafted products that are not imported, that are made locally, that are safe, and also with a really good mindset when they’re made,” Levy said.

What is a food festival without an authentic Italian vendor? Haute-cuisine restaurant Opera Bombana brought a cornucopia of freshly baked breads, while V+H Living Art Laboratory, which specializes in Japanese-style raw processed dark chocolates, have just what it takes to satisfy those with a sweet-tooth.

As well as traditional restaurant vendors and grocers, the festival also features clothing designers, bookshops, breweries, and even a furniture shop. Pop-Up Beijing’s co-founder Glenn Shuitman says he sees that people today are returning to antiques and things that are real.

“Our business, our brand, our story is about lifestyle. We’re a furniture shop, we have antiques, we have ceramics, we have a whole range of European and Chinese pieces. But we believe these pieces actually enhance lifestyle. So we look at ourselves as a brand that is bigger than just furniture. And we want to connect ourselves to food, lifestyle, beverage, things that bring joy to people’s lives,” Shuitman said.

The first YES! Food Fest was held in Shanghai last year. Tickets for this year were sold out even before the event started.

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Time:

10:00 am-2:00pm
May and June Only

Where:

Meet : Your hotel
End : Your hotel or sites in city

Tour Style:

Walking + Private car

Food Theme:

cooking class,authentic experience,local culture

Remarks:

Vegetarian option available
Private option available

Make Chinese Zongzi During Dragon Boat Festival

 

 

Please note this cooking class take place in May and June only because the bamboo or reed leaves are good only at this time of the year !

IMG_4892IMG_4893 IMG_4895

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We just stat the melting heat of Beijing’s summertime! That of course means that we are also about to celebrate one of China’s most famous traditional holidays: the Dragon Boat Festival. Beside the famous Dragon Boat Racing, there are also several very special culinary traditions that we always look forward to every year. Especially because of the delicious traditional zongzi!

For us , this was an interesting surprise but we are glad that the day now focuses on the delicious Zongzi. Have you had zongzi before? Do you have a favorite kind? Join us in making Zongzi at the hutong courtyard home

What is Dragon Boat Festival

The Dragon Boat Festival (Duan Wu Festival) is on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month. It is in remembrance of the great poet Qu Yuan, a loyal official from the State of Chu in ancient China. He was deeply loved by everyone. Unable to save his country, Qu Yuan drowned himself on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month in 277 b.c.The townspeople did everything they could to find him in the river. They dropped dumplings of glutinous rice wrapped in bamboo or reed leaves into the river hoping to prevent the fish from eating his body. Since then it has been customary on this day to eat Zong Zi (glutinous rice wrapped in bamboo or reed leaves) out of respect for the legendary poet.

A brief history about Hutong

Hutongs are a type of narrow streets or alleys, commonly associated with northern Chinese cities, most prominently Beijing. Hutongs are residential neighborhoods which still form the heart of Old Beijing and represent an important cultural element of the city. Their tapestry of diverse cultures, mouth-watering cuisines, unique architecture and fascinating stories make them unforgettable destinations. Hutongs originated during the Yuan Dynasty (1271–1368) but really began to flourish during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). However with the passage of time and the modernization of Beijing many hutongs began to disappear. They have now become representatives of Beijing’s culture for locals and tourists alike and many have been given protected status.

lishi hutong1副本

EXPLORE THE OFF THE BEATEN PATH HUTONG WITH US

Highlights

  • Celebrate the Dragon Boat Festival with us!
  • Get a chance to learn how to make Chinese rice dumplings with different fillings such as meat, red beans, Chinese candied dates, and more!
  • Cook with mom and experience the authantic Beijing courtyard lift in off the beaten path hutong
  • Having Zongzi and a traditional Dragon boat festival Lunch

无标题

Travelling Party  English Speaking Guide Only
(pay your own transportation)
English speaking guide and
private transport
1 Person $150 $220
2 Persons $95 $135
3 Persons $85 $115
4 Persons $70 $95
children Please contact us for detailed quotation buy tickets

What’s included?

  • An amazingly delicious and 100% local experience
  • Cooking Materials ,delicious lunch
  • Experienced, friendly and entertaining local guide and mom for cooking
  • Fun & informative guided walking tour for off the beaten path hutong tour

What’s not included?

  • Transportation from and to our meeting place if you choose to use a tour guide only

1:How to book

btn-book-1Email us

step1Email us to inquire for availability

Please offer these information

A: Date and time you prefer to start

B: the hotel you stayed

C:The tour you are interested to join, with or without transportation

D:Number of the tourists
step2Beijing Food Tours will send

A: Confirm space availability and the Confirmation voucher

B:Invoice for the deposit (PAYMENT 50% deposit to confirm booking Balance payment due on tour day)

C:Meeting point

btn-book-2Use our Online booking form

buy tickets

What happens after my online booking?
After completing your booking on our website Beijing Food Tours will send

A: Confirm space availability and the Confirmation voucher

B:Invoice for the deposit

C:Meeting point
In case, you don’t see emails within 24 hours after booking, please check your junk mail inbox. If you still can’t find it, please simply contact us at “info@foodtoursbeijing.com”

2:Cancellation Policy

Should you choose to cancel a booking, Beijing Food Tours must be notified by email.

The following cancellation fees apply for Beijing Food Tour:

  • More than 10 days before departure, all deposit full refund(10USD =60rmb processing fee)
  • 10 to 2 days before departure, loss of 50% of your deposit
  • From 48 hours before the tour starts, loss of all deposit
  • Turning up late to the starting point of the tour for whatever reason is considered a late cancellation and will result in a loss of all deposit

3:Children Discount

Children less than 5 years old–Free of charge

Children between 5-10 years old –Half price

Children above 10 years old–Same price as adult

IT’S DRAGON BOAT DAY — SO YOU MUST EAT ZONGZI

There are three things you must eat today: a hard-boiled salted duck egg, a Zongzi, and Lu Dou Gao (mung bean cakes). Why? Well, today is Dragon Boat Day!

The Dragon Boat Festival (Duan Wu Festival) is on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month. It is in remembrance of the great poet Qu Yuan, a loyal official from the State of Chu in ancient China. He was deeply loved by everyone. Unable to save his country, Qu Yuan drowned himself on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month in 277 b.c.

 

The townspeople did everything they could to find him in the river. They dropped dumplings of glutinous rice wrapped in bamboo or reed leaves into the river hoping to prevent the fish from eating his body. Since then it has been customary on this day to eat Zong Zi (glutinous rice wrapped in bamboo or reed leaves) out of respect for the legendary poet.

dragon-boat-races

If you live in a big city, with a river, take a stroll down to the waterfront. You will see teams of people racing on the dragon boat.A drummer sits next to the head, beating his drums intensely to excited the rowers. The air is filled with shouting and cheering. It is a serious race.

Zong Zi is not only made for the Dragon Boat Festival. It is available throughout the year, and comes in a wide variety of styles and dumplings. The main ingredient is the glutinous rice, and then the bamboo or reed leaves, which is the wrapping that provides it with its distinct taste. The recipe includes dates, sweetened red bean paste, meat, chestnuts, lotus seeds, and egg yolk

How To Store Chinese Tea

How To Store Chinese Tea

All teas benefit from being stored in a cool dry place where the temperature does not fluctuate very much.  Tea is very good at absorbing odours so keep it away from anything smelly.  Airtight containers are inexpensive and much better than the plastic pouches or cardboard containers that tea typically comes in.
Almost all teas last for about one year. Green/White teas deteriorate more quickly than fermented teas because they oxidize faster when exposed to the air.  Always ask how long a tea has been sitting on the shelf before you buy and when new teas will be in stock. Vacuum packaging is a mixed blessing as tea lasts longer on the shelf but the packaging may crush the leaves and make the tea bitter. Many teas come in a cardboard container with a vacuum packed pouch inside. Keep the tea sealed in the pouch and keep the pouch in the cardboard container if you don’t have any airtight containers.

If you have airtight tea containers, you can store all Green/White teas, Taiwan Oolong, Tie Guan Yin (Gun Yam, Iron Buddha, Buddha of Mercy, Chinese Oolong) and Phoenix teas in the refrigerator. As a result, these teas will actually improve in flavour over time but beware that once you have stored a tea in a fridge, you cannot then store back on a shelf or the tea flavour will diminish rapidly. Do not use this technique if you do not have airtight containers or the tea will absorb every odour in your refrigerator and ruin your tea.

Pu Erh Tea (Bow Lay in Cantonese) mellows quickly and the flavour develops dramatically when kept in an unglazed clay jar, preferably in a cool dry place with little temperature fluctuation. Younger tea is less expensive to buy than older tea so you can buy a newer tea you like and keep it for many years. If you are keeping new tea for many years, keep it in a clay jar and when ready to drink, break it up into small pieces and store in a clay jar. This is called “waking up the tea” and the flavour will begin to develop more rapidly. If a clay jar is not available, a cardboard box or paper bag will do but make sure these have no odours from the manufacturing.

How To Tell the Quality of the Oolong Tea

The best quality leaves are heavy and stiff and very much look like dragonfly in shape.  The golden liquor of Iron Goddess is the richest in taste and its sweetest smell doesn’t go away even after brewed sever times.  It’s awesomely richest taste and long lasting orchid smell is the characteristic of the best quality oolong tea – tie guan yin.(Iron Goddess of Mercy)

Tie Guan Yin is often called “Beauty Tea” as it helps in reducing fats and it also assist in digesting food. It is available at hundreds of shops but question arise how to find the best quality oolong tea – Iron Goddess?  Here are few guidelines which will help you in finding the best quality oolong tea – tie guan yin:

Appearance:

Well generally it’s not quite difficult to distinguish the best quality oolong tea – tie guan yin and a fake or bad oolong tea especially for the person who is well aware of the taste and shape of tie guan yin.  Good quality leaves are fresh, jade green, oil surfaced, stiff and healthy.  This green and red combination gives the liquor golden or orange color.

different grade tie guan yin

Voice:

When you put the best quality oolong tea – tie guan yin into the pot, due to heaviness of leaves you can clearly hear the crispy voice of leaves which sounds like “dang bang”.

Smell:

Tie guan yin smell is the best thing that really distinguishes it from any other tea.  The best quality oolong tea – tie guan yin has a strong smell which still remains fresh even after it is brewed 7 times.  This smell is like the orchid which remains for a longer time than any other tea.

Taste:

Brewed tie guan yin tastes mellow, sweet, fresh aftertaste and smells like some orchid flower if it’s the best quality Oolong tea – tie guan yin.  The liquor color of good tie guan yin is golden, rich and very clear and on brewing the leaves becomes soft but still remain bright like oily surface which is called “satin surface”.  While the low quality tea is have different smell and a bit bitter and thin taste.  The liquor color is red or dark brown type which is due to inferior quality sick leaves and smells smoky.

Bottom of Leaf:

While buying the tea, see the leaves of the tea.  Best quality tie guan yin leaf is shiny and clean.  The health can be felt from its thickness and the leaf will be complete and flat.  At the bottom of leaf you can see the red edges and veins of the leaf very clearly.

different bottom of leaf

Health Benefits of OolongTea

1. Boosts your metabolism, causing weight loss.

Oolong tea helps you burn fat faster by raising your metabolism for up to two hours after drinking it. Oolong also contains polyphenols that are able to block enzymes that build fat. This means you can lose weight with oolong tea, so long as you don’t load it with refined sugar and artificial sweeteners. If your tastes lean towards sweet tea, consider using a small amount of raw honey, maple syrup, stevia or agave syrup—all of which are sugars low on the glycemic index.

2. Lowers cholesterol

Oolong is known to reduce cholesterol levels and promote heart health. Because oolong tea is semi-oxidized, it produces a perfectly sized polyphenol molecule that is able to activate the enzyme lipase, which is known to dissolve body fat.

3. Increases mental alertness

This healing hot cuppa is known to revitalize your mental alertness and performance, naturally, because it contains caffeine. Be careful if you are sensitive to caffeine and limit your consumption to one lightly steeped cup a day, or indulge a few times a week.

4. Aids digestion

Oolong can help aid digestion for those not sensitive to caffeine. The tea alkalizes the digestive tract, reducing inflammation in those with acid reflux and ulcer problems. Because it is mildly antiseptic, oolong tea can clear bad bacteria from your belly. Its calm, smooth flavor can soothe the stomach when consumed hot.

5. Promotes healthy hair

Due to its high level of antioxidants, oolong tea can prevent hair loss if you make a tea rinse out of the leaves. Not only that, but your hair will be thicker and shinier. Oolong softens and adds lustre to your hair.

6. Betters your skin condition

Eczema often occurs in conjunction with allergies or sensitivities. Oolong tea is able to suppress those allergic reactions because it combats free radicals, which is a healing property of an antioxidant. Also, the antioxidants found in oolong are essential for vibrant, youthful skin. Drinking oolong can greatly slow down the aging process, so it’s a great anti-aging tool.

7. Stabilizes blood sugar

When you have type 2 diabetes, your blood glucose levels are elevated. Studies have shown that those suffering from diabetes could benefit from drinking oolong which, in studies, has decreased blood glucose to a healthy level. The antioxidants in oolong, which comes from polyphenols, does wonders for metabolizing sugar.

8. Prevents tooth decay

Both oolong and green tea protect teeth from acid produced by certain bacteria. The production of acid and the growth of bacteria are both inhibited by oolong tea, which means it is effective in preventing tooth decay and build-up plaque.

9. Prevents osteoporosis and forms strong bones

Oolong can protect your bones and prevent osteoporosis. Those who consistently drink oolong tea are less likely to lose their bone mineral density, helping retain minerals from healthy foods consumed. It has been discovered that oolong contains magnesium and calcium in its leaves.

10. Strengthens the immune system

Known for its anti-cancer properties, oolong tea assists in maintaining a healthy immune system. The antioxidant flavonoids found in the tea prevent cellular damage. The production of anti-bacterial proteins is much higher in those who drink oolong tea, indicating a strong immune response when fighting infection.

Oolong Tea 乌龙茶

Oolong tea belongs to the category of partially fermented tea. Its degrees of oxidation, fall between green and black tea, are mainly controlled by the pan-firing procedure. Oo (Wu) means Blackand Long means Dragon. Oolong Tea is also known in China as “Qing Cha”.The bright yellowish infusion has a fresh rich flavour and a long-lasting aromatic aftertaste.

A Quick History of Oolong Tea

Oolong Tea as we know it today is the result of a long evolution, originating during the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907)  in the Beiyun region of Phoenix Mountain (Fenghuanshang) in Fujian Province. It was first known as Beiyun Tea and because of its fine quality and unique flavour, it was the first tea to be made a tribute tea, in the Song Dynasty (960-1279). In the tribute custom, tea regions were selected by the Emperor to produce tea to be offered as a gift to the royal court, which was a great honour and good for business.

乌龙In time, government officials, monks and scholars began visiting and emigrating to the Fujian area and were surprised with the strong “earth-stone” taste of the teas from the Wuyi Mountain region, so different from the un-fermented Green Tea which was the only tea that existed in China to that point. These teas came to be known as Wuyi or Cliff Tea. Hearing of this wonderful new tea, the Emperor sent a sample of an un-fermented compressed Green Tea cake to Wuyi and asked for tribute tea. What he received was Dragon Phoenix Compressed Tea which was made from a mold which imprinted the tea cake with the design of a dragon and a phoenix. This tea became very famous as a result.

The fame of Wuyi teas spread far and wide and continued to be designated as a tribute tea throughout the Ming (1368 – 1644) and Qing Dynasties (1644 – 1911).

In 1725, tea producers in the Anxi region of Fujian adapted the methods of making   traditionalWuyi Tea and improved the technology to develop a new tea – Oolong. In 1796, Oolong Tea was introduced to the Northern Fujian region and to Taiwan, where today, each region is well known for their distinctive Oolong Teas.

 

Most Popular Varieties:

Production of Oolong Tea

乌龙6Oolong Tea has 7 processing steps:

Withering

Picked leaves are spread out (inside and/or outside in the sun) to soften the cell walls of leaves. This draws the moisture to the surface for evaporation, softens the leaves, begins natural enzymatic fermentation and sets up the next stage of processing. This also reduces the grassy taste of tea leaves.

Tossing/Bruising (Turning Over)

Known as “Shaking” in Chinese, because in the old days, the leaves were simply shaken in a wicker basket. Today, this step is done with the aid of machines to further break down the leaves by mechanical means (as opposed to chemical means as in “Withering”). This improves oxidation and mixes chemical elements from the stems with the leaves, removing bitterness and balancing the flavour of the tea.

Oxidization (Partial and Full)

This step used in Oolongs and Black Teas continues the natural process of fermentation by allowing the leaves to rest after the Withering or Tossing/Bruising (Turning Over) steps. The time allowed determines the amount of fermentation for the tea being made. At this point, the leaves turn to a darker green or even a red colour, due to the breaking down of the cell structure of the leaves. It is at this stage where the tea begins to develop its grassy, flowery or fruity taste characteristics.

“Kill-Green” (also known as Fixing”)乌龙5

Stops the natural fermentation and growing processes within the leaves without damaging them.  Steaming the leaves, hand pressing in a hot pan and baking techniques are used. This also sets up the next step for Rolling/Forming the leaves.

Rolling/Forming

Leaves are passed through hot and/or cold rollers to slightly break down the leaves, which establishes the shape of the leaves and intensifies the tea flavour.

Drying

Establishes the final moisture content of the leaves, stops fermentation, prevents mold growth, removes any grassy leaf taste and develops the tea’s aroma.  Sun drying, pan heating and hot air methods are used.

Firing

(Oolongs) Various methods of roasting in a pan or a basket with charcoal or electric heat are used to give a smoky flavour or a fruity characteristic. 

How To Tell the Quality of the Green Tea

There are so many types of Green Tea in China, here we use Dragon Well Green Tea as a example

The Dry Dragon Well Tea Leaves Before Brewing:

In Dragon Well green teas, the appearance of the dry leaf is smooth, flat and spear-like.   Like Grade A below (shown on the far left), the color of the dry leaf is yellow-green with a straight flat body, and one leaf and bud which are well-proportioned.   It has a light, delicate grassy fragrance and is smooth to the touch.

The Grade B (shown in middle) is called Premium Grade Dragon Well Green Tea, which also has a green color, but the color is a much deeper green with a much more intense fragrance and flavor.   It has a very elegant flavor to it.

The leaf of Grade C (shown on the far right) is much darker and the leaves are tight and heavy.  It smells very mild and light but does not keep well in storage for as long as the other grades.

Differences when brewing Dragon Well Tea

Flavor and Aroma

With Grade A Longjing tea, it presents a delicate and aromatic fragrance that is smooth and long lasting and similar to that of a freshly plucked green bean. It tastes very fresh, smooth and mellow with a hint of natural sweetness.

In the Grade B Longjing tea, the leaves will brew up to a bright green liquor with a mellow fresh taste that has no sharpness to it. It is smooth and delicious.

Grade C Longjing tea will not store for very long before going bitter. However, if brewed while still fresh it has a very mild flavor similar to the Grade B Dragon Well, but the leaves brew up a much more deeply green color than the other two grades.

绿茶12副本

The Brewed Tea Leaves and Buds

You can also tell the difference between different grades of Dragon Well green tea by simply observing the brewed tea leaves.  You can see that the Grade A Dragon Well on the far left is still very brightly colored, even after brewing.  The other two grades are more of a dark green color.

Additionally, the Grade A Dragon Well is always tender, slight and thin leaves with a very light appearance while the other grades look thicker and the leaves appear broader.

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The Color of the Brewed Dragon Well

Observe carefully the color of the brewed tea liquor. A high-quality Dragon Well has a tender green, clear and bright color, with a touch of yellow. The darker the liquor is colored, the lower the quality of it.

The Flavor of the Brewed Dragon Well Tea

The best way to distinguish a nice, high quality Dragon Well is
by it’s flavor. It is just as aromaticsmooth and mellow to taste as
it’s aroma leads us to believe. A high quality Dragon Well will
always be soft and mellow flavored, never grassy or harsh. The
higher quality Dragon Well often have a slight floral note in
their undertones with very green and smooth overtones.

Finally, you can always observe the tea as it is brewing to notice
the color, flavor and depth of the more subtle notes in a fine Dragon
Well. A fine Dragon Well will be light and spear-like
with mellow and slightly floral notes, while the lower grades of
Dragon Well brew up darker with sharper notes to them.

 

 

How To Prepare Green Tea

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Note:

1:The most important thing is the balance of the bitterness and astringent taste of tannin and umami of amino acid in Green Tea. High quality green tea are prized because they containe high amounts of amino acid and strong umami tastes.

Therefore, with high quality Sencha, using about 70-80 C Temperature.Water of this temperature prevents extracting tannin, and boosts the umami of amino acid which can be extracted with lower temperature hot water.

2:When add water into Tea, leave it for 45  seconds to 1 minute, then pour out water.Don’t leave any water in the pot.If water was left in the pot,it will fume the tea leaves and ruins the taste.

 

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