Creaturiste's Laboratory

Techniques, works in progress, and everything that doesn't fit in the portfolio. Comments and questions are encouraged, custom orders are welcome!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Green Iced Tea

One more recipe for the busy artists who appreciate good food, but don't have much time to prepare them.

My Iced Tea (sweet tea) is very appreciated by my guests.
It's an easy 10 minutes to make, takes about two hours of freezing to be ready, so I make it in advance, when I know someone is coming.

Ever since I succeeded making it to my taste, I can no longer appreciate the overly sweet chemical "drink" that is called Nestea. Real Iced Tea should be fresh made, therefore fresh-tasting, and not too sweet!

•2 big heaping tablespoons of Green Tea
Needs to be loose leaf & organic. I personally prefer Sencha, a Japanese green Tea.
Variation: for the hottest heats of summer, a blend of half green tea and half dried mint leaves is a really good combo.

•4 cups of near-boiling water.
•sugar or honey, to taste (I add about half a cup of raw organic sugar, or raw honey).
•fresh cold water to fill the rest of your pitcher
•glass or ceramic teapot that can hold 4 cups.
•fine mesh strainer, to filter the tea leaves.
•Pitcher, needs to be freezer-safe (I use a plastic pitcher for this).


1. measure 2 heaping tablespoons of green tea leaves, and put in the teapot or glass jar.

2. Bring 4 cups of cold water to an almost boiling point, using a kettle.
Using cold water to start with helps in keeping your drink unflat.

3. Pour the hot water onto the tea leave, and lest rest for 8 to ten minutes. Waiting longer will make a much more bitter tea. Some people step it for less than 8 minutes, but for me, it feels like a waste. You'll see what appears to be flakes or powder, turn into actual leaves, or big fragments.

4. pour the tea into the pitcher, using the strainer to catch the leaves.

5. Add the sweetener and blend while it's hot.
A variation: sometimes I add the juice and a bit of inner pulp of two or three lemons at this point.

6. fill the rest of the pitcher with cold water, and blend well. Tasting it now should tell you how sweet it is. If it feels a bit weak now, you should add a bit more sweetener, as a cold tea seems to taste a bit less sweet. Observe the marvelous color! It may be called green tea, but often it looks more golden, with a green tint.

7. Put in the freezer, without a lid, for about two hours, or until chilled.

8. Dispose of your surprisingly big heap of tea leaves in the outdoor compost right away. They attract insects. Who knew fruit flies were THAT fancy? If it's winter time and you don't want to dig out the compost pile, you can leave it in the freezer or in a bucket outside until you have time to do so.

9. Issue a warning to your guests: this iced tea is known as a diuretic. It affects some people more than others. If you have a very small or very nervous bladder, start with one single cup, to see how it affects you. Hey, such a natural diuretic is a good thing, it cleanses you!

10. Enjoy!

11. repeat the warning if you see that your guests are emptying the pitcher...

Why not use Tea Bags?
Why loose leaf and not tea bags? Commercial tea bags are low quality at best, and have barely any taste, in general. So "do yourselves a flaVor", and get loose leaf tea. Don't be fooled by the label at the store if it's sold by weight. Even at $10.00 a kilo, it's a bargain, since tea leaves are very lightweight. Different brands and types of green tea will taste different, because of how they are grown and processed. My most recent purchase of Sencha tastes more grassy than my usual supply, and that was a great surprise. If you like the convenience of tea bags, you can purchase empty bags and prepare your own. If I were to start using them, I would prefer the over sized tea bags, allowing me to prepare bigger batches, such as what is called for in this recipe.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Wheat Paste is solved!

I have just found out, by a sudden moment of strange inspiration, how to prevent delamination of the first few surface layers of paper mache strips.

The problem:
When using boiled wheat paste as a glue for paper mache strips within a negative mold, the release layer of paper towels or toilet paper and water, were always diffcult to really paste down and merge with the rest, once pulled out of the mold. Even worse, most times, some areas of the glued paper lift when applying the sealer.
I never had those problems with PVA glues.

The solution:
I now use a paper pulp (with wheat paste as a bonding agent) to make the detail coat into the molds. It takes twice as long to dry, but that time is not wasted, as I get a better definition, and a bonus texture that I love. I then add 3 or 4 layers of thick Kraft paper inside, for the strength and stiffness I need.
See the method here:

I'll repeat it here, to be clear: Wheat paste paper mache is far more stable in temperature changes than any PVA I've ever tried.

PVA-glue paper mache strips: get it cold, it becomes brittle and can break into pieces if dropped or hit; get it hot, it becomes soft and can be warped or squished out of shape.

Boiled wheat paste paper mache strips: no apparent change! I even froze a puppet head for a few hours, and then hit it violently, there was no change in strength!

Add to this that wheat paste paper mache is by far stronger than PVA-based same, and you got the best choice: stronger, non toxic, smoother results, non-lumpy, very economical, available worldwide!

This is where I got the info that made me want to try wheat paste again, at last!
Thank you Jose Chavez!

And here is the previous article I wrote about Wheat paste and my newfound love for it: