In Arabic, instead of the standard “good morning,” you can wish someone a morning of light, sabah al noor, morning of cream, sabah al ashta as well as morning of sleep, sabah al noum. My favorite greeting remains a morning of roses, sabah al ward. When I say it out loud—the thorny Arabic ‘h’ softly scratching my throat — I imagine a shower of red petals and their voluptuous honeyed fragrance. The only thing that can awaken me though is the annoying beeping of my alarm clock, so I’ve resolved to creating mornings of roses in other ways.
One of my favorite ways to start a day is a strong cup of tea. I love the smell of coffee, but I save the boost of caffeine for those days when I absolutely need it. On most days, a cup of tea is enough to make me feel energized and uplifted. Some people are tea purists, but I don’t mind experimenting with flavored teas from time to time. As long as the flavor is not too strong or artificial, it can be an interesting foil to the tannic richness of tea.
As I discovered, the natural lemon-honey notes of rose marry exceptionally well with black tea, whether in a perfume bottle (like Parfums de Rosine Un Zest de Rose, Rose Praline, and Eau d’Italie Paestum Rose) or in a cup. Rose tea is now essential whenever I crave my “mornings of roses,” and I’ve settled on two commercial varieties: Le Palais des Thés Rose de Chine and Mariage Frères Rose.
Both Rose de Chine and Rose are black tea blends and are priced similarly (around $8 per 100g). Le Palais des Thés teas are among my favorites, and Rose de Chine doesn’t disappoint. The dark Chinese tea brews a full-bodied amber colored cup, and the flavor of rose is strong but perfect against the delicate smoky bitterness of Qimen tea leaf. I sometimes blend a bit of Rose de Chine with some other black tea to create a more subtle rose accent. Mariage Frères Rose is more gentle by comparison. The tea itself isn’t as dark and rich, and the flavor is softer.
These teas have been among my favorite rose scented blends over the past year, along with a zesty Jasmine Rose Green Tea from Upton, but today I’m enjoying a recipe shared by my reader Andy when we were discussing Annick Goutal rose fragrances.
Andy suggested blending a couple of drops of vanilla extract and a quarter teaspoon of rosewater into a cup of Darjeeling tea. He also brews the tea with a piece of lemon peel and sweetens it with a teaspoon of apricot jam. “It’s the closest I’ve been able to recreate a food that tastes just like a rose garden!” he added, and it was enough to make me run into the kitchen to try his recipe.
A mere whiff of rose and vanilla made me melt; a sip proved that this is summer indolence captured in a drop of liquid. Vanilla rounds out the mild bitterness of tea, and the lemon accents that tart sparkle of rosewater. This combination works with any black tea, and although I usually prefer my tea unsweetened, a bit of apricot jam makes rose fuller and richer. But even with the flavors paired down to only rosewater and vanilla, this perfumed tea makes my mornings of roses fit closer with my fantasies.
Photography by Bois de Jasmin, all rights reserved.