June is here, and in our house that means we’ve moved our bedroom downstairs for the summer, away from the stifling heat of the attic, and cleared a shelf in the refrigerator to be stocked exclusively with cold beverages until autumn leaves start to fall. I love the long days of summer but start to melt above 75 degrees. The thought of triple digit heat makes me want to buy a chest freezer just to sit in and if you need me come August, I’ll be at the dentist/movie theater/DMV, or really any place with air conditioning that will have me. Until the day comes when we spring for central a/c at home, a steady supply of cold drinks is the best method I know of for surviving — and maybe even enjoying — the summer heat.
Punch is a favorite chilled drink of mine because at its simplest it’s an easy blend of fruit juice and a carbonated element — if you use sparkling water, like I usually do, it’s more hydrating than juice alone — but the sky’s the limit. I made this sparkling citrus and honeydew tea punch with four kinds of fresh-squeezed citrus and the new Sweet Honeydew Green Tea from Stash. It’s a unique blend of mild green tea and refreshing melon — really, it tastes exactly like a perfectly ripe honeydew — that was made to be served cold. Mixing the citrus juices and the honeydew tea results in an immensely flavorful sweet-tart drink that’s less sugary and more complex than plain juice. Don’t forget the sparkling water — is it just me, or do bubbles make drinks extra refreshing? Continue Reading
Happy almost 2018, friends! It’s that strange in-between week after Christmas but before the new year where we’re half easing back into everyday life, half hanging onto the holidays because they’re not quite over yet. And thank goodness! Because I have one more festive recipe to share for the season, and it’s perfect for ringing in the new year if champagne isn’t your thing. If you’ve never had a brandy alexander, it’s a smooth and creamy blend of Cognac, Creme dé Cacao and fresh cream shaken with ice until it’s nice and chilly. The combination of strong, spicy Cognac with sweet, chocolatey liqueur is pure bliss and the cream makes it a little more mellow and immensely sippable. I infused the cream with Stash Orange Spice Tea for a kick of citrus that makes this brandy alexander even more perfectly suited for winter-yum! The whole thing is topped off with a sprinkle of freshly ground nutmeg for extra spice.
It’s been cold, gray and rainy here in Portland and when dreary weather hits the Northwest, there’s only one thing to do: embrace it, because it’s not going anywhere for the next several months! To me, that means bundling up, staying inside and eating and drinking everything cozy and indulgent – like this rich and silky black forest hot chocolate. If decadent, made-from-scratch hot chocolate isn’t made for this season then nothing is. This one’s a mix of melted chocolate, cocoa powder, vanilla and milk that’s been infused with Stash’s Black Forest tea. It warms you up from the inside out and is the perfect accompaniment to wool socks, a good book or your latest Netflix binge (anyone else excited about the new season of Stranger Things?).
This was my first time trying black forest in non-cake form and I’m happy to report it’s just as tasty in a mug! The tea’s chocolate and cherry flavors aren’t overpowered in the hot chocolate–instead, you get a nice, subtle taste of black forest in every sip. It’s a black tea, too, and I very much appreciate the little caffeine kick now that the days are shorter and I have trouble staying awake past 5 pm. This hot chocolate is super rich thanks to the melted chocolate I stir in, so I like to keep the other flavors on the subtle side. But feel free to add a few more tea bags when you infuse the milk for even more black forest flavor! The same goes for the whipped cream–I only used a couple tea bags to infuse the cream because I didn’t want it to turn “tea” colored, but for a stronger flavor you can always use more. The lesson here is that you can’t go wrong with chocolate, cherry and vanilla. Mmm. Continue Reading
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