Thursday, July 26, 2007

Taste of Summer

I'm finally getting settled into the feel of summer. I love New York this time of year because it's warm, but there's still a breeze and the nights cool off. Lately, I've taken to cooling off during the day with some tea. No, I'm not rehashing the myth that "hot tea actually cools you off!!!1 4 real!" I'm talking about cold tea. Yes, there's always iced tea, which can be quite tasty. However, I've been partaking of something a little more exciting: tea granitas. The LA Times put out an article on how to make these icy, refreshing Italian treats. Their recipes and flavor combinations appear to be sound, but they take the better part of a day to prepare. (Eight minutes... plus cooling and freezing time.) Also, they seem a little sweet for my tastes (and I'm a southern-born tea-drinker!). So, while you should check out what they have to say, read on here as well.

I have found a way to make delicious, QUICK, healthy tea granitas. It's simpler than you think. All you have to do is whisk powdered tea (matcha or another quality powdered tea by a company like Muzi), juice, water, spices (optional), and sugar/honey in a shallow, freezer-safe dish, place it flat in the freezer, and rake a fork through it once every hour for four hours. That's it. No brewing, no waiting for the tea to cool. Simple. If you're short on time, but you want to make a tea that you can't find in powdered form (Damn that local grocery store for not carrying powdered Lapsang Souchong!), you can always powder it yourself with a spice grinder or (if pressed) a mortar and pestle.

Here are two recipes I whipped together:

Cranberry-Rooibos Spice Granita
3 cups cranberry juice
1 cup water
2 teaspoons powdered rooibos
1 teaspoon powdered sugar
2 dashes powdered cloves
1 dash powdered cinnamon

White Ginger Orange Granita
3 cups orange juice
1 cup water
2 teaspoons powdered white tea
2 teaspoons ginger syrup*
1 ground allspice berry

Whisk together in a shallow, freezer-safe dish. Place flat in freezer. Rake with a fork once an hour until mostly frozen (about 4 hours). Serve alone, with brioche (the traditional Italian way), with a dollop of creme fraiche, or with a sprig of mint. I love to serve them in these fair trade, hand made Moroccan tea cups.

If you come up with your own recipe, I'd love to hear it! Post it on my Blogger page or send me a note through Vee Tea's "ask" page.

*Ginger syrup is something I make in batches and keep around, but you can also buy it from many specialty grocers. If you want to make it yourself, you can follow this imprecise but effective set of instructions (which I will not dare to call a recipe):

Peel and chop a hunk of ginger, boil it for about 10 minutes in just enough water to keep it covered, measure out a quantity of sugar that you feel is roughly equivalent to the amount of water in the pot, and dissolve the sugar into the boiling water. Remove the pot from heat, strain out the ginger pieces, and you're good to go. It will keep (sealed) in your fridge for several weeks.

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