Saturday, August 20, 2011

Spa Girl on brewing herbal tea...

On my last spa visit I had the most heavenly cup of tea which added to the overall relaxing atmosphere of the spa environment.

Brewing tea is definitely an art form, and this summer I have been practicing.  I have mastered a heavenly iced matcha latté, and an herbal infusion of dried apple, hibiscus, rosehip, and oranges which I add lemon slices and a few mint leaves from my garden.  In both cases, because I don't like to use sugar, I sweeten ever so slightly with Agave.

When harvesting herbs from your garden make sure they are rinsed and insect-free. The best time to cut your herbs is mid-morning before the sun becomes to strong and wilts the leaves.  Carefully rinsing rather than washing your herbs will help retain the plants natural oils, which carry a lot of the flavour.

Infusions require more leaves, and as a general rule of thumb I use one good teaspoon of dried herbs for each cup of boiling water and two teaspoons for fresh herbs. I also slightly bruise the fresh herbs to ensure they release most of their natural oils and I let it steep in a six cup infuser for fifteen minutes before popping  in the fridge to chill.  To serve I pour over a glass filled with ice, a slice of lemon and a mint leaf for a refreshing iced tea on a hot sunny day. 

For  iced matcha lattés I use one teaspoon of first harvest matcha in one cup of skim milk, sweeten to taste with Agave, mix thoroughly and chill.  For the best results, I mix the matcha in a quarter cup of hot water then add to the milk. To serve, I pour over a glass filled with ice.  I have to caution, this is such a fabulous drink, it is addictive!

There are many herbs from your garden that can be used in an herbal infusion, here are a few suggestions:

Lemon verbena: Lemon verbena provides the strongest lemon scent and flavour outside the citrus family. You won’t believe this light, bright tea doesn’t contain a slice of lemon. Try adding some lemon verbena to your favourite green tea.

Chocolate mint: This mint cultivar (Chocolate' Mentha x piperita f. citrata) has an unusual red stem but a familiar taste. Sweet woodruff: Also known as galium, this pretty but common ground cover makes a not-so-common herbal tea. Expect hints of vanilla and almonds. For an authentic Tibetan-style refreshment, brew a trio of sweet woodruff, basil and mint. 

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