If you’ve spent much time around the blog, you probably know how much tea I consume. Coffee for me is an occasional treat; tea is the stuff of everyday sustenance. For most of the year I sip hot tea throughout the day to keep warm, and nibble tea-infused desserts to satisfy my sweet tooth. In the heat of summer, though, turning the oven on to bake sounds like torture and the last thing I want to drink is a steaming mug of anything. So instead of tea I drink…oh, wait, I still drink tea! And lots of it. In fact, I store away some of my favorite teas just for summer, because drinking them cold brings out all their tasty flavors.
Stash’s Organic Matcha Mate is one of those teas. When they came out with this tea – a smooth blend of Japanese matcha, green tea and yerba mate – earlier this year I liked it hot, but knew I’d love it cold come summer. It’s a nice, strong tea for early mornings and lazy afternoons when I need a little caffeine boost, but without the bitter flavor that sometimes accompanies robust teas. I’ve enjoyed it on its own several times, but I think the matcha and mate flavors are at their best in slightly sweetened latte form. I brew the tea hot and strong, then pour it over ice with a generous drizzle of honey and a splash of cold almond milk, resulting in a silky and immensely sippable tea latte that’s made for hot days. The distinct tea flavors come through and, if you ask me, they’re actually made stronger by the dash of sweetness in the latte.
Have you ever tried drinking a shrub? Wondering how that would work, what with all the leaves and pointy bits? Not to worry – I was mystified, too, when I first saw shrubs on a cocktail menu. Fortunately, I’m not suggesting you drink greenery! No, this kind of shrub is much tastier and goes down a whole lot more smoothly. Shrubs are a sweet-tart mixer made by letting fresh fruit sit in vinegar, then adding sugar to the infused vinegar and boiling it all down to a syrup that brings sweetness, acidity and a punch of flavor to your drinks. I love that since shrubs are so full of flavor, they don’t require extra juices, herbs or liqueurs to make them immensely satisfying and drinkable. This shrub, made with fresh blackberries and minty licorice delight tea, is sweet, tangy and also has some tasty herbal notes. I didn’t want to obscure any of those flavors, so I mixed the shrub with sparkling water, and wow. The flavors all came through, and the sweetened vinegar makes them more intense than they would be without that acidic element.
The choice of tea made all the difference here. This was my first time making a shrub with tea, and while I knew I wanted to use an herbal one, I didn’t think a mild tea like chamomile or lavender would stand up to vinegar. Enter minty licorice delight! This is a new tea from Stash, and now that I’ve tried licorice and mint together, I don’t know how I got along with out them for so long. I’ll admit I’m not usually a fan of licorice. But in combination with the mint, it’s light and refreshing, and the perfect herbal complement to the blackberry and vinegar. While the blackberry is what hits your tastebuds first, it’s the minty licorice that lingers and makes you want to take another sip. Next time I’m going to try my shrub as a cocktail mixer – I think it’d pair well with an herbal liqueur like amaro or an elderflower cordial. The possibilities are endless, as is my appetite for shrubs! Have you ever tried making or drinking shrubs? I’d love to hear your favorites! Continue Reading
Happy weekend, everyone! I have a lot to be grateful for this weekend and I can’t help but share my excitement. First, it’s almost officially spring! Second, tomorrow is my birthday! I’m not that big on celebrating my own birthday – I’d never throw a real party because being the center of attention like that makes me want to slide under the table and hide. But I am excited about sharing a nice meal with my husband and parents. Oh and last but not least…we finally got a house!!! Our offer was accepted on an old craftsman bungalow not far from where we live now. It’s going to take years and a lot of elbow grease to restore it to its former beauty, but we’re looking forward to the adventure and can’t wait to dive in next month. Lots of DIY posts are on the way!
Back to springtime being just around the corner. These last few months, steeping and drinking tea has become a daily (okay, five times daily) habit. It started out of necessity – my apartment’s frigid temperatures make hot drinks mandatory – but has become a ritual I savor and want to continue as the seasons warm. So, I’ve been playing around with cold tea drinks, like this rose and honey tea latte that’s currently on repeat over here. I pour it over ice, which brings out subtle flavors that would be lost if it were served hot. I love rose, but only in small doses, and steeping rose buds in milk gives the latte a delicate flavor that’s floral but not overpoweringly so. It’s lightly sweetened with a spoonful of my dad’s raw blackberry honey that satisfies my sweet tooth and makes it a little fruity. I highly recommend picking up some raw, fruit-pollinated honey at a farmer’s market if you can – the extra bit of flavor makes all the difference.
My favorite thing about this drink? You can make a big batch ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator for later! I’ve been taking a mason jar full of pre-made latte whenever I leave the house because I’m completely hooked, and I’m willing to bet you will be too. Read on for the recipe. Continue Reading
I meant for last week’s hot chocolate post to be my last one for 2016, but what can I say? These past few days I’ve been overcome with New Year’s excitement. This year has been a seemingly nonstop string of ugliness and disappointment, and as it winds to a close I know I’m not the only one who won’t be sad to see it go. I’m counting on 2017 being a better year because it just has to be, and I’m going to do my best to start the year off on a positive note. I’ve spent a lot of the past couple months dwelling on the bad stuff the year has brought (I don’t want to bring up a sore subject, but it allll went downhill after the election in my book). I’m trying to balance that negativity with some reflection on some of the great things that have transpired this year, too. I was able to leave a draining job to follow my dreams full time, P and I celebrated a year of marriage and I’ve been lucky to meet some incredibly inspiring and supportive new friends.
In that spirit, P and I decided to throw a last minute New Year’s Eve gathering at our place. It will be just a few friends gathering to say good riddance to 2016 and usher in 2017 together. A New Year’s Eve party calls for cocktails, and that’s where this fruity, herbal and refreshing rosemary gin cocktail with fresh grapefruit juice comes in. It’s no secret that I love rosemary, especially alongside sweet flavors. I made a rosemary-infused simple syrup for this drink and topped it off with a sprig of sugared rosemary for good measure. I also love winter citrus and I’ve been buying it by the bushel the past couple weeks. Pink grapefruit gives this drink its lovely color as well as a tangy – but not sour – punch, but any grapefruit variety will work nicely. Add a splash of gin and you’ve got yourself a perfectly balanced cocktail: a little sweet, a little herbal and so pretty you’ll want serve it to guests. (Psst. It’s easy to make it a mocktail by swapping the gin for tonic.) Read on for the recipe and a little making-of stop motion. Hope you enjoy it, and Bisou and I will see you in the new year! Continue Reading
Late last week a winter storm swooped in over Portland and we were snowed in for a couple days. It was only a few inches, but snow isn’t a regular enough occurrence here for streets to be plowed or salted overnight. Instead, everything just sort of shuts down until the rain washes it all away. It’s pretty magical seeing everything clean and still, knowing you officially don’t have to put on real pants for the day. We used that time at home to listen to some Christmasy records, finally wrap presents and we even took Bisou out in the snow for the first time. She loved feeling the freshly fallen snow on her paws and seeing chubby winter squirrels running through the trees right above her (hop over to Instagram for some Bisou in the snow pictures). On the flip side of the snow storm was our dwindling food supply. We ran out of leafy greens and bread after the first day, and I didn’t have the stuff to make gingerbread cookies to go along with the music and gift wrapping. I did have the chocolate and milk on hand to whip up some rich and silky lavender hot chocolate though, and it fit the bill!
I grew up drinking hot chocolate from a packet, and while those little marshmallows do bring back fond memories, hot chocolate from scratch is so much tastier and free of mysterious additives. I usually make it with a dark, high quality chocolate bar chopped into pieces. I couldn’t get to the store though, so I swapped in the semisweet chocolate chunks I had in the pantry. Lesson learned: you can use just about any chocolate and not go wrong. You can use any milk too, dairy or otherwise, but whole milk does give the hot chocolate a rich, creamy quality that’s hard to top. Dairy milk is also the easiest to infuse, which is a plus if you want a lot of lavender flavor in your hot chocolate. My favorite part of this recipe is that it can be tailored to any consistency: use a bit of chocolate for a silky and light hot chocolate, and a whole lot for an extra rich sipping chocolate. Continue Reading