Friday, 30 January 2009

Iced tea for maintaining summer sanity

Over the long weekend I decided to try out an iced herbal tea recipe that I found on and which looked intriguing: Chilled Sage and Herb Tea. Here’s the link to the original recipe.

Sage is plentiful in our garden at present, and I had lemons; but I had no mint and no fennel seeds. What to do? A rapid survey of our spice shelf in the pantry revealed some star anise; and then I remembered that the garden also contained a couple of small patches of lemon balm. This turned out to be a little the worse for the heat and for being past flowering, but I still managed to cull enough to make a couple of batches of the tea - which was, as it turned out, absolutely delicious – delicately lemony and sweet with a very refreshing herbal aftertaste.

The next day I acquired some fennel seeds and decided to make a batch using these instead of the star anise. This was also good; a slightly darker colour, not quite as sweet. I think I preferred my first version, and so for good measure here is the recipe:

1/3 cup fresh sage
1 tablespoon fresh lemon balm
1 tablespoon whole star anise
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest

Lightly crush the fresh herbs (you can do this by just squeezing them in you hand) and bruise the star anise in a small mortar and pestle (you could also put them between a couple of layers of paper towel and whack them with a rolling pin or something, just a little bit).

Place the herbs, star anise and lemon zest in a large teapot or heat-proof jug and pour on 1.25 litres freshly-boiled water. Cover and set aside to steep for about 15 minutes.

Strain liquid, let cool and refrigerate for at least an hour. Serve as is, or you could add honey to taste (I didn’t bother), and/or ice.

If you don’t have access to fresh lemon balm, don’t bother using dried; they taste nothing like each other. You could substitute a small amount of lemongrass (fresh or dried) instead.

Happy quaffing!

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