Tea and Drinks: 43 posts

Recipes for drinks, beverages and liqueurs

Butterfly Pea Flower Tea : Blue Tisane

“Would you like to try butterfly pea flower tea?” asked a friend as we were getting ready to order drinks at a small restaurant in Georgetown. After several days eating and drinking through this charming town on the Malaysian island of Penang, I already knew that I was in for a treat. Georgetown’s legacy as a trading entrepôt is its blend of cultures—Malay, Chinese, Indian—that results in a diverse and vibrant cuisine. A standard hotel map will organize the town’s sightseeing locations by the different delicacies one can taste around its neighborhoods, from noodle soups and seafood curries to coconut-scented cakes and dim sum. Of course, I had to try the butterfly pea flower tea.

When the tea came, it was the color of sapphire, an intense, vivid blue. Crushed lemongrass stalks gave it a heady floral and citrusy perfume. As my friend explained, butterfly pea flowers have a mild earthy taste, and the tea—or more properly, tisane—is mixed with other ingredients to give it a bolder flavor, such as fragrant herbs and spices. The color, however, is so striking that it’s a beloved ingredient in drinks, cakes and even savory dishes such as nasi kerabu, rice with coconut stewed chicken and a variety of accompaniments. Local lore has it that butterfly pea flower tisane is rejuvenating and toning. I found it mesmerizing.

Continue reading →

Rubbish to Gems : A Tale of Javanese Tea Wedang Uwuh

While driving around the Indonesian countryside, especially in Sulawesi and Java, you see sheets of tarp spread along the side of the road with cloves or scrolls of cassia drying in the hot sun. The archipelago produces most of the world’s nutmeg and clove, spices over which wars were fought and nations colonized. Most of the produce drying on the plastic sheets is intended for export; the higher the quality the better the price farmers would fetch. Yet, no part of a spice tree is wasted, be it cassia, nutmeg or clove. Javanese tea, wedang uwuh, is an example of this philosophy.

Uwuh means rubbish in Javanese, and the tea uses all of the refuse from the spice production–nutmeg leaves, clove branches, cassia foliage and stems. (Another theory is that the tea is so called because the bits and ends floating in the liquid look like garbage.) Either way, garbage it is not, and one legend credits the Raja of Mataram with the discovery of wedang uwuh.

Continue reading →

Elderflower Cordial

Sugar to flavors is like amber to butterflies. It captures even the most delicate of nuances of flowers like roses, violets or acacia. I don’t have a particularly strong sweet tooth, and yet you can tell by the number of articles I’ve written about making candied flowers and searching for Persian sugared jasmine or Provencal glazed mimosa, how much this topic fascinates me.  Now that the elderflowers are in bloom, I want to capture the effervescent ballet of their aromas in something. A candy. A jam. Or perhaps, a cordial.

Elderflower cordial is a popular drink in Belgium, where it’s sold diluted as a soft drink, but growing up in Ukraine, I’ve never associated elderblossoms with anything but tisane. My great-grandmother occasionally used the berries to make cough syrups, but I don’t remember them tasting appealing. I liked their intense violet color and once tried to use them as fountain pen ink. That didn’t go over well. The aroma of elderblossoms in early summer, however, was one of my vivid childhood memories.

Continue reading →

Cranberry Mors : Ruby Red Drink

I love the bold acidity of cranberries. Sometimes when I cook with them, I keep a few berries aside to eat raw and their combination of bitterness and tartness always takes me by surprise. Yet, if I wait a moment, I taste a floral sweetness, with a hint of red currant. When I make something with cranberries, I select simple recipes that allow these facets to shine, and more of often than not, I return to my grandmother’s recipe for cranberry mors, a fruit drink.

Mors is the whole world of Russian fruit beverages made with strawberries, currants, gooseberries, blueberries or cloudberries, those unique berries with a taste of cardamom that grow in the northern lands. My paternal grandmother Daria was born in the region of Russia edged in between Ukraine and Belarus, and she remembered going to the forest to pick berries and prepare enough mors to last the family of 12 through the winter.

The traditional method to make cranberry mors was to cover berries with water and leave them to ferment naturally. However, when Daria moved to Ukraine and settled in Kyiv, the capital city, she began to make mors differently, by cooking the berries. Daria’s recipe was simple, but it was ingenious in the way it preserved vitamins and freshness.

Continue reading →

Fennel Cardamom Sherbet (Saunf ka Sharbat)

La canicule, the heatwave, has reached Brussels, with temperatures in the city these days exceeding those of Delhi. Unlike in India, life in Belgium is not designed for a hot climate. Air conditioners are a rare item in most households. The buildings trap heat. The large windows turn apartments into greenhouses. Last night I was dreaming that I was sleeping on the edge of an exploding volcano. It might as well have been our bedroom.

Trying to retain sanity in this heat, I turned to classical Delhi remedies. Since escaping to the cool mountain resorts in Darjeeling wasn’t in the cards, I made a refreshing fennel seed sherbet, saunf ka sharbat.

Continue reading →

From the Archives

Latest Comments

Latest Tweets

Design by cre8d
© Copyright 2005-2023 Bois de Jasmin. All rights reserved. Privacy Policy