Iced tea from Paradise
With this recipe I won the Demmers Teehaus iced tea contest in Austria last July. You can read the original article (in German) here. If you can't speak German, don't despair and read on.
You are probably wondering, what is the connection with Austria and why do I speak German? A few years ago, I was lucky enough to spend one year in Vienna, Austria, as part of my university program. In hindsight, that year changed my life. Fast forward to today, my good friend Debora, who lives in Austria and like me is a tea addict, found out about this contest and challenged me to take part in it. Thank you, my darling!
First, let me tell you how I came up with this recipe. I wanted it to be exciting and fun to make, which is why I incorporated some recent trends I have been seeing a lot over here in the US. Cold brewing tea is similar to cold brewing coffee, which is the latest beverage obsession around here. As for cold brewing tea, the shinobi-cha method, the Japanese method of brewing tea with ice, seems to be its traditional counterpart. If you want to find out more about the shinobi-cha method, I recommend this article by Alexis Siemons of Teaspoons and Petals. I didn't use use ice cubes to brew my tea, but the principle is very similar. Compared to tea steeped in hot water, the resulting liquor is much smoother, much flavorful and less bitter/astringent.
Coconut water is a clear liquid collected from young, green coconuts. It belongs to the category of super foods, which makes it the preferred beverage by athletes, thanks to its high potassium and electrolytes content. Get the natural, unflavored, unsweetened version and make sure it is not from concentrate. If you are feeling adventurous, you can even extract it yourself from young coconuts (I've seen them often at grocery stores and health food stores, so they seem to be readily available, at least here in San Francisco).
Grains of paradise are a very intriguing spice, not only because of their lovely name. They come from Africa and belong to the same botanical family as ginger. They have a peppery flavor with hints of ginger and citrus. They can be used in sweet and savory recipes and I like to use them to replace ginger whenever I have delicate flavor combinations and I want a not-too-overpowering result.
Mao Feng iced tea
3 TBS loose leaf Mao Feng green tea
34 oz / 1 quart / 1 liter water
For the ice cubes:
For the syrup:
1 cup water / 236 ml
1 cup sugar / 200 gr
2 teaspoons lightly crushed grains of paradise
Fresh raspberries and apricots to garnish
Let's start by cold brewing our tea. Feel free to experiment with leaves to water ratio. Let sit covered in the fridge for 8 hours or overnight. I used filtered water, it tastes so much better! Then we can move on to the ice cubes. I prefer the big cocktail-style ice cubes because you just need one per glass and they don't melt as fast as regular-sized ice cubes. To make my ice cubes, I filled my ice tray with coconut water, some raspberries and some apricot slices. They need to set in the freezer for a few hours. To make the syrup, I put my grains of paradise into a mortar and I coarsely ground them. Combine water and sugar in a pan and bring to a boil, making sure that the sugar dissolves completely. Simmer for 10 - 15 minutes on a low heat. Remove from the heat and transfer to a glass jar to cool. Store in the fridge and strain before using.
To assemble: in a glass muddle some raspberries with one teaspoon of grains of paradise syrup. Add one large coconut water ice cube (or more if you are using regular-sized ones) and top with cold brewed Mao Feng. Stir, garnish with apricot slices and serve.
Cheers to summer! Enjoy!