Whipped cream on your tea — don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it! They say that necessity is the mother of invention. One day the necessity was a total lack of milk in the house and a potful of Assam freshly steeped and waiting for that milk. (I know, you’re asking, “Why didn’t you look in the frig first?” Long story.)
Now, I realize that many of you reading this don’t put milk in your tea. To each his own. For me, Assam without milk just isn’t palatable. Generally speaking, it’s one of those teas that has a high amount of tannin and can therefore be quite bitter when steeped up strong. That makes it one of those teas that “takes milk well,” as the saying goes. Milk mixes with the tea liquid and smoothes out the taste. This is also true of some other black teas. Something about the oxidation process (that turns the green leaves of the Camellia Sinensis plant black) releases that tannin and adds bitterness to the tea liquid. Processing the oxidized tea leaves using the CTC (Cut Tear Crush) method can increase the tannins that get loose to steep in your teapot and end up in your cup.
Sweetener is another thing I find essential for Assam, Keemun, and other black teas. If you don’t want milk, a little sweetener can help take some of that bitterness away. Honey, sugar, artificial sweeteners, etc., all do a good job.
So, back to the lack of milk in the house and a freshly steeped pot of Assam just waiting there. What to do… what to do… Then I saw it in the frig door — a can of whipped cream. Situation rescued!
Whipped cream is dairy, so it substitutes for the milk. It’s also often sweetened, so you get a “twofer.” The one problem is that you have to use quite a bit of it (if it’s the kind from a squirt can) because of all the air in it and because when the whipped cream hits the hot tea, it dissolves. However, being a real lover of whipped cream, maybe my failure to buy milk was a subconscious way of justifying using whipped cream in my tea — like I need an excuse!
Of course, other teas beside Assams can benefit from a big fluffy topping of whipped cream. It goes especially well with teas flavored with vanilla, hazelnut, cocoa, cinnamon, and even some fruits such as apple and peach. You could try it on a favorite flavored tea to see how it goes. Chais (made with black tea, not green) are another option.
Another thought on this: If you’re trying to cut down on eating sweets, try having a nice cup of hot tea with whipped cream in it. You will feel like you’ve had dessert but with far fewer calories. Trust me, it’s very satisfying. Enjoy!
Don’t forget to check out A.C.’s blog, Tea Time with A.C. Cargill!