As I’ve mentioned from time to time, I don’t drink flavoured teas – that is, teas with added flavourings. With all the wonderful single-source teas and pure-tea blends available, I just can’t justify taking the time from my tea-drinking for a combination that works perfectly well as tea and accompaniment: While I enjoy a piece of chocolate or some strawberries with my tea, chocolate-strawberry flavoured tea seems rather pointless.
On the other hand, I very much enjoy cooking and baking with tea, including flavoured teas. Tea with added flavour saves the extra step of adding tea and then flavour, and often inspires creation of a new dish.
But I’m careful about which flavoured teas I use, because I’d like the tea qualities to come through in the finished dish. That’s why I’ve been particularly pleased with the flavoured teas from English Tea Store. Yes, it’s a shameless plug, but it’s well deserved. Whereas many (or most?) vendors add flavourings to generic China teas, ETS prefers a high-grown Ceylon tea for their flavoured black teas. It’s a tea that stands up perfectly well on its own, and really does make a difference in the finished dish.
Of course I need to steep up and sample any flavoured tea to understand what dish or dishes it might best complement. When I opened the package of Blood Orange tea, the sweet orange juice aroma segued into a somewhat more bitter and sophisticated orange peel quality. That’s when I knew what this tea was made for: tea Sangria.
My original recipe for tea Sangria incorporates Darjeeling tea, with its beautiful dry grape personality. But this flavoured tea works perfectly as well, complementing and intensifying the added fruit while still asserting its own tea flavour and aroma.
I really think you’ll enjoy this simple recipe. It’s a non-alcoholic variation of a traditional Spanish wine with fruit. As a reminder: To steep strong tea, do not let the tea steep for additional time, as this will make it bitter. Instead use about 1-1/2 times the amount of leaf you would normally use for the same amount of water, and steep for the usual amount of time. This is a delightful beverage any time of year, but especially so right now in wintry mid-February, when citrus fruits are at their best and we’re getting the first of the excellent fresh Florida strawberries.
And here’s a tip: Make your ice cubes with the same tea and they won’t water down your Sangria.
About 8 to 10 servings
6 cups (8 ounces each; total 48 ounces) prepared strong Blood Orange black tea
3 cups fresh fruit, cut into bite-sized pieces (try mixed citrus, strawberries, peaches, melons, mangoes, pineapple, or whatever fruits you like)
2 to 3 Tablespoons sugar, or to taste
3 cups white grape juice
Allow the tea to cool to room temperature. Place the fruit and two Tablespoons sugar in a large pitcher. Pour in the tea and grape juice; stir well. Adjust sweetness if necessary. Serve in tall glasses over ice. The fruit can be spooned into the glasses (provide a tall iced tea spoon), or served separately in bowls – optionally with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream – after the Sangria has been consumed.
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