Kawakawa - also known as New Zealand's native bush basil - is grown wild, then dried and crushed into flakes.
Use as a culinary herb. Also popular for brewing as a tea - itself or as part of your own mix.
Now available in a new resealable - compostable - pouch.
I have not tried this herb/flavour before so this was quite an experiment for me. First off I really liked the packaging. It was not visible but I would not expect a product like this to be easy to see, so it is protected from the light well. I thought the pouch opened easily and resealed well which is a personal thumbs up as often the opening and closing can be fiddly.
I thought there could have be a tiny bit more information on the package about the volume to use and some hints for usage that you may not have thought of (thinking serving suggestions on cracker packets here or a freebie recipe idea like curry pastes).
The smell on opening was good and strong and made it feel really fresh and quite tempting to throw in everything It reminded me of a basil or a very peppery oregano so those were the dishes I tried (if it had been winter I would have added it to soups and stews which I think would have been brilliant, but we haven't had any of those so I am just guessing).
I liked it with plain wraps and hot chicken and veges. I tried it with an antipasto platter dip (in the oil) but it was a bit peppery for my tastes. It was ok but not amazing in ham salad wraps with vinaigrette. I loved it in a tomato pasta but I think I enjoyed it most with feta and on pizza (in the sauce). I think the best use I found though was in a lovely Mediterranean salad as it added a real zing. I am very keen to try it with pasta as a substitute for pesto next. It was a hit with hubby who asked "what did you put in this, its a bit different to usual" twice. A great mix it up a bit for your usual dishes.
The price/cost will be a bit of a limiter for me going forward and I would love if it came in a 25g pouch so I could feel I got a treat and could use every so often or for special occasions. I do think the cost is appropriate but the volume was quite a lot for me to get through in a household of two.
I haven't had the opportunity to try any kawakawa product and was excited to try a new flavour - especially since it is 100% dried wild kawakawa grown and sourced right here in New Zealand. Forest Gourmet have put the effort in ensure the bag is compostable and it seals so keeps the freshness in. I wasn't sure where to start in using kawakawa so investigated to see where I should start.
I found that it can be used in teas and tonics, has many great uses for healing cuts, bruises, tummy troubles and skin problems such as eczema. What a range of options for this one dried herb. I figured I would start with using it as a spice to some of our dishes. I used it in a mortar and pestle with some other herbs, salt and pepper and rubbed this into lamb - what a wonderful flavour. You can identify taste a tang of bitterness as it differs from other green herbs that you may have used in the past. A taste that you can identify and would be sure not to use too much of - but a nice combination with other herbs. I used it in a pizza base sauce and it stood up to it's flavour when cooked. I'd like to try it in winter stews to see how it tastes after a long day of cooking, or after marinating meat overnight to see if the flavour changes or intensifies.
This is a pricy little bag of goodness at $24.95/50 grams but you can see the value in it as it is a local grown product, that is harvested with care to ensure the best quality is presented. I think this will go far so the price reflects the quantity. I look forward to continuing to try this in various recipes and drinks as I figure out the flavour combinations better.
I like herbs, I like the range of flavours they can add to so many different meals and so I was excited to try out one I had NEVER had before, Kawakawa. I opened it up and gave it a sniff, it reminded me of basil and gumboot tea and after tasting a little bit it left me with the taste of a cup of tea without water, sugar or milk. I decided that I would give this a try over a range of dinners to see how it would taste in various dishes and just how well it would last.
I made a pasta dish with a tomato sauce and used some of this in leiu of my usual herbs, we found this had a nice flavour when added to the dish. The next night I made some rice and added it to the rice as it cooked, this made the rice much nicer and added a good flavour to it, the following night we had rice again but this time I added it to the sauce mixture but it didn't go quite so well with the teriyaki sauce. I made some garlic bread and added a little of this to it, this gained mixed results so I'm not sure yet if it will be repeated. I then made some pizza and just before I popped it in the oven I sprinkled a little on top, this was probably the biggest hit and will be done again.
This had mixed results but we still have tonnes left so it will defiantly go a long way.
Forest Gourmet's Kawakawa flakes were my first experience with tasting this interesting herb, I have heard a lot about the health benefits of kawakawa and its use in traditional maori medicine and have used kawakawa in a balm format for skin ailments but had never tasted it before. I was very pleased to receive this packet in my KIWIreviews parcel to review and couldn't wait to try it. I did do a bit of research before requesting to see how I could use kawakawa flakes so was prepared with a couple of uses to start with.
I learned that dried kawakawa has traditionally been used as a herbal tea and as a big tea drinker I have loved trying different flavour infusions so my first trial with the kawakawa was to use it to make a herbal tea. Kawakawa has been known to help with digestion so I made a brew to follow my evening meal. It is an interesting flavour to drink as a tea as it definitely has a savoury herb flavour with a bite of a peppery bite but I did enjoy it with a small amount of manuka honey and cinnamon for a uplifting and warming drink and could drink it regularly with the added sweeteners.
As kawakawa is referred to as a native bush basil and has a natural peppery taste I really wanted to try this as a seasoning with my meals so added it in with some other herbs and some salt to make a rub for steak I was preparing. I'm not sure I would liken it to basil it definitely has a familiar herb flavour but basil wasn't my first impression I wanted to say almost coriander like but a bit more peppery. Either way it is a flavour I enjoyed and definitely complimented meat very well I could see myself using it as a seasoning regularly.
The package is a great size too usually with herbs you get very small packages and this is a good 50gram size pouch that is completely resealable to keep the kawakawa fresh. I also noted that the pouch is compostable which I thought was a unique and great idea to cut down on plastic waste is a fantastic cause. While more expensive than common herbs you can buy I think its worth it to have a uniquely NZ herb with a great flavour like this and I would be happy to pay that price now I have tried kawakawa for eating I will be using it again. I have long hailed kawakawa balm for the amazing results it has had on my childrens eczema and have noticed that the tea I have made has helped keep my stomach feeling refreshed and revitalised after meals.
I have heard people speak of Kawakawa before and praised it and I have tried it in Aldersons Kawakawa salsa verde sauce but I have never had the privilege of having it as flakes that I could add to my own meals until now. The Kawakawa flakes come in a dark black 50-gram mainly compostable bag that doesn't allow you to see the contents as it is recommended that the Kawakawa flakes avoid direct sunlight in storage which means if you happened to leave the bag out the packaging will still help protect the herb flakes to a degree. I was very interested in tasting this herb as it hails from the pepper tree family and is referred to as native bush basil so I got right to researching Kawakawa and found that it has other properties outside of just nutritional as it is used for its healing abilities in medicines, ointments and is great for digestion aid.
I tore open the bag and opened up the resealable tab to be greeted with a strong unique aroma of what I can only describe as being a mix of coriander and mint. I took a pinch of the Kawakawa flakes and proceeded to chew on the small pieces of leaf and was pleasantly surprised that the taste was a somewhat sweet and savoury pepper flavour that welcomely lingered for quite some time and after a while was reminiscent of almost a tea leaf aftertaste flavour. I had decided to make homemade burgers for dinner using both the Forest Gourmet Kawakawa flakes and Horopito bush pepper and I must say I am happy that I did as these two flakes really added the depth of flavour that paired so well with the meatiness of the patty.
I then sprinkled the Kawakawa flakes with garlic salt over a mixture of potatoes, kumara, and carrot then roasted the vegetables. The flavour was more pronounced on the vegetables than it was within the burger patties and really was the star of the dish as it shined bright with its earthy subtle peppery flavour. The price of the bag is a little bit steep at $24.95 for the 50-gram pouch but I can see this lasting a long time as the flakes a very finely ground and holds a strong taste from a small quantity so you don't have to use much at all to get a good flavour. I have many other meals that I can see these Kawakawa flakes pairing well with and look forward to trying them. If you like experimenting with flavours throughout cooking then I recommend Kawakawa flakes as they really are a great flavour addition and I am thoroughly pleased in the results thus far I have gotten from them.
I have not tried kawakawa in flake form before so was really intrigued by this product. We opened it and before sampling the contents gave it the sniff test. All of us agreed that it had the same aroma as a herbal tea, and since I already knew that brewing was one of the suggested ways to try it, I decided I would give that a go as part of the review process. First, however, we wanted to try it out as part of our dinner.
My daughter had made a thick pumpkin soup with added stock (from leftover chicken bones), chicken pieces, and pulses. It needed a little something extra, so we added a tablespoon of the flakes about fifteen minutes before serving and simmered it to release the flavour. We topped each plate with a dollop of sour cream and a little kawakawa for garnish. Quite honestly, we could not taste any difference - either the other ingredients had overwhelmed it or we had not used enough.
The second experiment was with macaroni cheese. This time I used as much for one person (one tablespoon) as I had for five of us the previous day, adding it to the cheese sauce while it was cooking. What a difference! This time the flavour was strong and made the macaroni much more interesting. It was clear that I had used far too little the first time round. I think what confused me was the description "bush basil" as regular basil is much stronger. We will try it again some time in the soup as I am sure the quantity is the key. It would have been useful if there had been an indication on the packaging as to how much to use.
Lastly, I made a pot of tea using a heaped tablespoon to 400 ml water. After it had been brewing for five minutes or so, I poured it into two cups - one with nothing else added, the other with a scant teaspoon of Barker's Chai Coffee Syrup to flavour. The strength ratio was about right for me as I like my tea reasonably weak, but some people might prefer to add more flakes. As for taste - the plain version reminded me of Alpine tea, tasting (and smelling) of a combination of oregano and thyme. But the other cup (with the chai syrup added) was stunning - sweet and strong with overtones of citrus and herbs. I drank half of it while it was still hot and let the other half go completely cold, and enjoyed both versions equally. This would be a super refreshing drink on a hot day!
As a footnote, I am interested that the "majority" of the packaging is designed to break down as compost. I would have liked to know if there is a part of the pack (the reseal mechanism?) which should be removed first. I am totally into renewing and recycling, but know to remove things like metal fastenings and sellotape before putting items like unbleached card into my compost heap. While this does not take away from the quality of the product, it is important information from the consumer's point of view.
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