Tea and Drinks: 41 posts

Recipes for drinks, beverages and liqueurs

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.

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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.

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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.

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Rose, Jasmine, Osmanthus : The Pleasures of Floral Teas

Some of the most interesting combinations involve tea and flowers. Scent science explains why such pairings have become classics – tea leaves and blossoms such as gardenia, violet, rose or osmanthus have a number of fragrant compounds in common. When blended, the complementary aromas create affinities that enrich the taste of tea as well as its fragrance. In my latest FT column, Discovering The World’s Finest Floral Teas, I explain what makes flower notes pair so well with tea and share my favorites.

You can read the full article by clicking here. I also welcome you to take a look at the Bois de Jasmin tea archives, because we have quite a selection of posts on making tea, enjoying seasonal variations, taking it with roses, jasmine, roasted rice, or even experimenting with Estonian and Thai blue teas. If you’re after a tea-based perfume, here is my list, Best Tea Perfumes in 10 Different Styles.

As always, I’d love to know about your favorite teas, floral and otherwise.

Photography by Bois de Jasmin, Ti Kuan Yin tea with a few drops of rosewater. Ordinarily, I don’t tweak Ti Kuan Yin teas at all, because they’re perfect as they are, but this combination turned to be so bright and complex that I’m going to enjoy it from time to time.

Jasmine of Angels, Jasmine of Madonna

Of all the names by which philadelphus is known–summer jasmine, farmer’s jasmine, mock orange, the loveliest ones are the Italian monikers of this sweet smelling blossom, Fiorangelo or Gelsomino della Madonna. Angel flower or Madonna’s jasmine.

In Ukraine we call it simply zhasmin, jasmine, and the jasmine of my Bois de Jasmin is this very plant. No summer image existed in my mind apart from its blossoming clusters leaving white petals in my hair and its heady perfume clinging to my skin.

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