refreshing drinks: 3 posts

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.

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Orange Blossom and Mint Lemonade

“It’s like drinking sunshine,” said my 11 year old cousin when she tried my orange blossom scented lemonade. Although her unexpected and poetic compliment made my day, I can’t take any credit. First of all, the idea comes from my friend Muna (whom you’ve met before). Second, it’s all in the lemon and orange blossom pairing.


Some combinations in perfumery are considered absolutely perfect. There are classical ones like coumarin and lavender, personal innovations like Jacques Guerlain’s bergamot and vanilla in Shalimar, or modern discoveries like cotton candy and patchouli in Thierry Mugler Angel. And then, you have natural marriages like orange blossom and citrus that are so harmonious than after you try it once, you know that these two are meant to be together.

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Melon Heaven: Melon Seed and Lime Horchata

August is usually tinted melon for me. Inspired by the heady perfume of ripe melons at the market, I rediscover the sultry beauty of Frédéric Malle Le Parfum de Thérèse and Parfums DelRae Emotionnelle. On sunny mornings that promise to turn into steamy days, I create my own versions of Сhandlеr Вurr’s “scent dinners.” Except that mine are usually breakfasts and I skip the lecturing part. I cut ripe cantaloupe into medium cubes and mix it with thick Greek yogurt. A drizzle of honey (or a splash of rosewater, depending on my mood), and it’s ready. Perfumed with Hermès Un Jardin Après La Mousson–a melon and rose perfume, I’m too ready to start my day.

When Brussels unexpectedly turned steamy–here it means a mere 80F, I discovered that without the air conditioning, even this relatively comfortable temperature can turn an apartment with large windows and transparent blinds into a sauna. Working from home, all I could do was to wear a bikini top and a thick layer of sunscreen. The other solution to staying cool was to drink horchata. True to my summer theme, I made a melon flavored  variation.

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