I like to enjoy produce when it is in season. As October advances, my fridge becomes filled with the likes of winter squash, radishes, and carrots. This bodes well for delicious soups and stews, but what does it mean for tea? Turnip and radish tea is not exactly on my top five list (actually, it’s not on any list), but nevertheless there are ways to enjoy seasonal produce in your tea times. I say tea times, but I in fact mean herbal infusion times — Camellia Sinensis, the tea leaf, is probably not going to turn up in your seasonal produce box, and so technically these brews are herbal infusions, not teas.
The blends listed below are ideas for some do-it-yourself herbal infusions using produce currently in season. Of course, what is in season will vary depending on where in the world you are, but if you are anywhere in the Northern Hemisphere that enjoys seasonal weather, hopefully you will find some ideas here that reflect what you have access to.
This earlier article dealt with how to make the infusions, but just as a recap, the basic idea for DIY infusions is this:
- Place 20-30 ounces of water in a pot and bring to a boil.
- Add the ingredients, cover, and simmer for fifteen minutes on a low-medium heat.
- Leave the pot to cool for a few minutes.
- Then serve your herbal infusion into a mug or teapot, adding honey to taste.
N.B. The amount of ingredients you add is variable. The amounts and ratios you use will reflect how strong, or mild, you like each infusion, and what balance of flavours you prefer.
1 Lemon/Orange and Ginger:
Citrus fruits, including oranges and lemons, usually show up during autumn. I prefer this blend with lemon, but they do go out of season as autumn rolls on. If you have any still trickling in, combining them with ginger gives an infusion that is tasty, and might also help you fend off those nasty coughs and colds that go around at this time of year.
Slice up the ginger root and the fruit (leaving the rinds on is fine) to get fuller flavour. I suggest simmering the ginger for longer, and adding the citrus at the end. This will give you a ginger-heavy infusion with a touch of citrus.
2 Apple Cranberry:
These fruits define autumn for many. Apple pie, apple cider, and cranberry sauce make regular appearances on the table, so why not include them in your tea? The cranberries will make your tea slightly tangy, perhaps even a little sour, so you might want to add some honey before serving. If you do not have access to fresh fruit, dried apples and cranberries will also produce a tasty brew.
3 Apple Cinnamon:
Another favourite flavour combination for fall. Simmer the apples first, and then add a cinnamon stick to the pot. If you can get your hands on a cinnamon stick rather than ground cinnamon, you will get a much better flavour. You can always add the ground cinnamon as a dusting to top it off!
4 Orange and Spice:
Combine orange slices with fall spices such as cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, or nutmeg. Again, use whole versions of the spice (whole cloves, cinnamon sticks, etc.) rather than ground, as they will make for a tastier cup.
5 Vanilla Almond:
This may not use seasonal produce, as such, but it is a great herbal infusion to brew up fresh on a cold day. Slice up or crush the almonds to maximise their flavour. You will need quite a few, or could even add some almond essence if you want a strong almond flavour. For the vanilla, you can use vanilla essence or whole vanilla pods, but if you use essence, use it sparingly, as a little goes a long way! A few drops should be adequate for 20-30 ounces of water. To make it into more of a dessert infusion, add honey—either into the pot, or when you serve it.
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