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Joanna Williams portrait

Cool. Calm. Calamansi | Interview with Joanna

For anyone that has heard us talk about our White Tea & Calamansi non-alcoholic drink,  you know that this was not the first flavour combination we had in mind. 

We had started using the humble cumquat/kumquat, which turned out to be our first deviation as we couldn’t find commercial quantities. 

Luckily, we were introduced to a close family member, calamansi and never looked back.

What is Calamansi?

Calamansi is a distinctive citrus fruit that is native to the Philippines and other Southeast Asian countries. It's small, round and green - although apparently they grow orange in cooler climates.

While many people don’t know what calamansi is (some even mistake the spelling for calamari!) we’re proud to use it’s original name - despite the confusion - because we love the conversations that come with it. 

Calamansi is also a primary ingredient of one of our teas - which receives the most comments about the beautifully intense, citrus mandarin aroma and a favourite amongst the Filipino community.

Local Filipino Food served with Calamansi

Meet Joanna

We spoke to Joanna Williams also known as @joannazoletta who is an enthusiastic  supporter of East Forged and shares her rich Fillipino culture together with her love for calamansi.  

Thanks for being part of the shake, pssssch, POUR movement and community!

EF: We know you stumbled across East Forged during a mad hunt for Calamansi tea. How would you describe the flavour?

JW: It tastes like a lime crossed with a mandarin. It's a tart sweetness and for such a little fruit, it's definitely punchy. We use it as a garnish in Filipino cuisine (my favourite is over a noodle dish called pancit - which is like chow mein) and they are fantastic in juices, non-alcoholic drinks , cocktails and baked goods. 

They also make a great dipping sauce - try soy sauce, calamansi, chili and vinegar. If you like sour, umami things, you’ll be all about this!

Calamansi drink

EF: Your life seems filled with wondrous experiences. We love seeing the deep connection you have to both the Philippines and Australia. If you could introduce one amazing part of your Filipino culture with our EF community what would it be?

JW: Thanks guys! It's funny because the older I get, the more homesick I feel and I always catch myself plotting short trips back to the motherland. It's hard to pick just one thing, but for me, I would love to bring through the feeling of inclusion that I get every time I am there. 

Filipinas and Filipinos have this uncanny ability of bringing you in and making you feel like you are a part of their crew, even if you've only just learnt their names. It always starts with a simple 'have you eaten?", which is followed by "come out with us, it's no trouble"

It's a simple, selfless and understated gesture. I mean - all of a sudden you've gone to town or you've gone back to someone's house to be hosted, had dinner, meaningful conversations - maybe even karaoke - and have parted ways with a handful of new friends. Now inseparable with old ones. 

Connections, kindness, community - this is what it's all about for me.

EF: We see you have been creating bubble tea recipes. As a foodie, what are your favourite flavours and ingredients to play with?

JW: I'm definitely a no-milk-in-my-bubble-tea kind of girl (quite divisive, I know). My favourite pairing is pear with aloe vera in oolong tea. 

I’m keen to try ceylon tea and rambutan in future or, maybe mangosteen and green tea! Not sure how achievable this pipe-dream is but you watch me, I'll somehow make it happen!

Joanna's homemade bubble tea

EF: You're invited to a party, you can only take one of the East Forged crew with you (Mico🐵 Stay Wondrous | Notsu🐷 Live Connected | Saka😼 Forge an independent life) with you. Who would you take and why?

JW: I think I would take little Saka with me. She’s got a sweet, yet cool vibe about her. I might even be a little intimidated!

EF: How would you describe our East Forged nitro tea? Who do you think they would appeal and when would you crack one open?

JW: Like that cool soak in the ocean on a blistering hot day! 

Right now in lockdown, this is as good an escape as I can get in the home office! I really enjoy tea, and I like chilled and carbonated beverages and I love that this is the best of both worlds. Tea drinkers will try just about anything, so I think you are onto something here with us!

I'd just like to close out and throw it out there to anyone who hasn't tried the White Tea and Calamansi drink - I hope that this makes you a bit more curious about this modest fruit. The sweet zesty scent transports you away for a moment - before you even take your first sip. 

This is one to please for sure.

Order your East Forged Tea here

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