Sunday, June 8, 2014

A few teas

I haven't gotten around to a challenge in a while. I was feeling bad about this and telling my mom that I'm just not as crafty as the rest of them when she reminded me that it's okay and this is a space to share our creativity. She also told me I can share what I do in the kitchen if I want. I'm more of a chef.

My mom and sisters are all bakers. They can and do cook too, but they're more likely to go bake something if they want to play in the kitchen. I'm definitely more of a cook. I can bake and often do, but I get really excited about trying out new recipes. I'm actually learning to reel in my excitement a bit because it's a bit irritating to my boyfriend. He just doesn't like to think of food that often. I'm usually not thinking of it like food; I'm usually thinking of it like some kind of creative chemisty-like thing. And I never even took chemistry. I did take several cooking classes in school, and my youtube subscription box is 40% cooking video channels.

This isn't exactly cooking, but I wanted to share anyway.

I love tea. I love coffee, too. I go through phases of loving one more than the other. I'm more likely to go off coffee for a while than to go off tea. During the summer, I like to drink iced coffee and tea. And I've been wanting iced tea for quite a while, but I never have ice made up. The other morning I finally made some. Now I can make iced tea instead of buying it. While buying it provides a lot more flavor variety, I like making my own custom blends. As you can see, I have three leftover bottles from two iced teas and an iced coffee. I like making tea in these sizes because I won't get bored with it before I finish. Also, right now I don't have any simple syrup made up, so these are all unsweetened. I do enjoy sweet tea, but I feel better not adding sugar if I can help it.
Just as a note, I tend to heat up a small amount of water (maybe up to 4 oz), steep my tea, remove the bag, then add cold water to dilute. I pour it over iced and have myself a good time. Here are my three types today:
Mint black
I love Honest Tea brand, but their Moroccan mint variety is made with green tea. I have a complicated relationship with green tea which can be summarized by saying I like green tea, but I stay away from it or sometimes suffer sharp stabby pain in my gut. I was really disappointed I couldn't have mint tea from the store. So I took one bag of mint tea (spearmint and peppermint blend) and one bag of black (to help dilute mint flavor), added it to roughly 16 oz of water, and made up a mint black tea. I feel like I made up a big pitcher of this kind of sun tea a year or two ago, but I know I want a bit more variety on a regular basis. I also chose to use a really basic black tea. I have some fancier stuff, but for diluting purposes, this Lipton tea works just fine.

Lemon berry
A while ago, my friend decided she would no longer drink caffeine, so she gave me all her tea. When I pointed out there were a bunch of herbal teas, she told me the temptation of chai was too great to keep any tea whatsoever in the house. This was one of the random teas I received from her. It's lemon, berry, hibiscus flowers, and licorice root. It's a really lovely red color, which is always fun. I wasn't a fan of this as a hot tea, but as an iced tea, it's just fine. This will sound weird, but it has kind of a dusty flavor. The tea may be old or it may be part of the tea's flavors. Anyway, I'm a big fan of this. I don't like hot fruit teas, but they're just fine iced. I used two bags to make sure I got a good dose of flavor.

Custom blend
My best friend lives in Indiana, so we see each other once every couple years. When I saw her back in January, she brought me several homemade goodies including some tea. She's an aspiring apothecary, so tea is something I've received from her before. This one is a custom blend she made me: rose, raspberry leaf, passion flower, nettles, and lemon balm. I'd actually lost track of this since she gave it to me. Oops. I just found it today, read the ingredients, and decided it would make a good iced tea. Since I'd never had it, I tried it hot before I added the cold water. It's quite lovely. I unfortunately used about half the amount of tea I should have. That means this batch is a very light flavor. I like it, but I'll be interested in trying it stronger next time. As a fun aside, my tea ball was too big to fit inside the bottle I brewed this tea in. I made a makeshift tea bag by putting 1 tablespoon of the tea into a #2 (cone-shaped) coffee filter, stapling it closed, and tying some dental floss around the top so I had something to fish it out of the bottle with. I had to let it steep extra-long just because the coffee filter took a long time for the tea to get through.

This is just the first tests for the season. I'll probably do an iced earl grey (one bag earl grey, one bag black) because I've had it before and really enjoyed it. I may try an orange and spice too. I have so much orange and spice tea, but I've never really enjoyed drinking it. Maybe it'll be better iced. I also have some random sampler packs of fruit teas from Celestial Seasonings (blueberry, raspberry, that kind of thing). I know those make good iced teas. I'm tempted to try some of the sleepy time tea cold. I know I like mint cold, but I'm not sure if a mint-chamomile would be good cold. I bet it wouldn't be horrible. And before the end of the summer, I wager I'll make some really strong black tea and simple syrup so I can have sweet tea. I like today's flavors because only the one has caffeine. I forget iced tea can have caffeine until I'm peeling myself off the ceiling or my head is singing.

I won't be doing sun tea until I move near the end of summer. I don't get enough direct sun right now. If anyone has good recipes for iced tea (sun or hot brew), let me know! I'm always excited about trying new teas.

P.S. I'm making a few interesting dinners this week, so I'll try to record those and let you know how they turn out.

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