Matcha Mojitos

I don’t normally drink many alcoholic beverages, but when I do mojitos are my drink of choice. I like that mojitos taste light and crisp without tasting overly sweet, and I also like that the ingredients used to make these cocktails are not the least bit fussy or hard to get.

There’s really nothing to making a mojito, which makes it perfect for a Monday evening wind down. It’s typical to use a muddler to mash up the mint and lime wedges of this drink, but since I don’t have one of those I’ve taken a shortcut to extract the flavors out of the ingredients. In the first step of the recipe I use hot water to create a smooth honey simple syrup. I then use the residual heat from the water not only to brew my matcha but also to help wilt and release flavor from the mint leaves. It’s an untraditional method that does a great job of melding all of this mojito’s refreshing flavors together.

The matcha in this recipe will give the mojito more body and a gentle bitterness which is balanced by the sweet honey. As always, an added benefit of the matcha is that it will give you a bit of extra pep to get you through the rest of your day (or evening). Matcha Mojitos are the drink to have when your day has been tireless and exhausting. Smooth and crisp with just a bit of edge to it, this simple cocktail is a refreshing finish to any hot and busy summer day.

Matcha Mojito

Makes 1 drink.

Ingredients:

2 tsp honey

1 Tbsp hot water

1 tsp matcha powder, sifted

1 sprig of mint (5 leaves)

1 lime, cut into 4 wedges

6-7 large ice cubes

3 Tbsp rum, chilled

6 Tbsp club soda, chilled

Equipment:

large glass

sifter

spoon or muddler

Directions:

1.)  Pour the honey into a large glass (the one that you plan on serving with), then add 1 Tbsp of hot water and stir until you get a thinned honey water. Add the sifted matcha, then mix with spoon until the matcha is thoroughly incorporated and there are no lumps.

2.)  Squeeze the juice from each lime wedge into the mixture, then throw 2 of the wedges into the mixture (discard the other 2). Add the mint leaves to the matcha honey mixture, then slightly crush the leaves and lime wedges with the back of the spoon.

3.)  Add the rum, then mix again. Add the ice cubes, then top off with club soda and give the Matcha Mojito one last mix before serving.

Quilted Petit Fours

Have you ever heard of the children’s book, Le Petit Prince? I hadn’t paid much attention to it until just a few weeks ago, when my very good friend asked me to create a celebratory cake for her sister’s baby shower.

Today’s recipe for Quilted Petit Fours are the miniature version of the Petit Prince cake that I created last weekend. The cake recipe is adapted from Sweetapolita’s Fluffy Vanilla Cake recipe, which works great for regular sized cakes or, in this case, one half-sheet pan cake. The texture of this cake is light and fluffy, and yet it keeps a tight crumb, which makes it ideal for making petit fours.

The key to getting your petit fours to look distinctively French is to use food coloring in shades of pale pastel, very sparingly. Here, I’m using a blue food coloring named Delphinium Blue, a shade very much like a color you’d find on a box of tea at Ladurée in Paris.

Luxurious gold dragées are placed on the points where diagonally scored lines on the fondant intersect. By lightly piercing each intersection with a toothpick, the large gold sprinkles will easily tuck into the fondant to create a tufted diamond pattern. The softer the frosting under the fondant, the more pooufy the pattern will look.And here is a glimpse of the cake that inspired today’s recipe for Quilted Petit Fours. The double layered cake was frosted with strawberry buttercream before being covered with fondant. The asteroid (middle) part of the cake was made from moulded rice crispy treat, which was also covered in fondant and then sprayed with edible gold dust. Finally, the cake board was covered in gold sprinkles for an extra dose of glitter and glam. With the use of some small cupcake liners, I placed some of these same sprinkles at the base of my petit fours for a similar effect.

Petit Prince himself was made entirely of fondant held together with toothpicks. I gave him a glossy finish by painting him with a mixture of corn syrup and clear colored framboise (raspberry liquor). People remarked that at first glance, he looked like a plastic toy…what do you think?

If I muster up the energy to, I’ll have to do a tutorial for how to build fondant figurines some day soon. It’s a process that requires a bit of improvisation and an incredible amount of patience, but it’s also highly rewarding if you can get it right.

And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.  

-Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

If you haven’t ever read Le Petit Prince, I highly recommend it. Above all, Le Petit Prince reminds us to stay child-like, open-minded, and with a full spirit of inquisitiveness. The drawings in the book are simple yet elegant, which was the look I was going for with these Quilted Petit Fours. Serve these fancy cakelets with Harney & Sons’ Paris black tea, a blend that’s fruity, flowery, and distinctively feminine.

I’m dedicating today’s post to all the lovely ladies that I met at the shower this past weekend, and to one special person in particular–the positively glowing and radiant mommy-to-be…Congratulations Jen!!

French Quilted Petit Fours 

Makes 12 large petit fours.

Ingredients:

{Cake- Adapted from Sweetapolita’s Fluffy Vanilla Cake Recipe}

2 1/2 large egg whites

1/2 whole egg

1/2 cup whole milk

1 1/4 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp ground vanilla beans

1 1/2 cups cake flour, sifted

1 cup sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

6 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 1 Tbsp pieces, chilled

non-stick spray

{Strawberry Frosting- Adapted from Patty Nguyen’s Strawberry Buttercream Recipe}

1 stick butter

3/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted

1/4 cup cornstarch

1/2 oz freeze-dried strawberries, ground into a fine powder in a spice grinder

1 Tbsp milk

1/2 tsp vanilla

1 tsp lemon juice

pinch salt

{Decoration}

24 oz. white fondant

Delphinium Blue food coloring

4 mm gold dragées

Equipment:

large half sheet pan fitted with parchment

medium bowl

stand mixer with paddle attachment

large rubber spatula

off-set cake spatula

toothpicks

cooling rack

rolling-pin

2 1/4″ round cookie cutter

disposable, food safe gloves

quilting tool or knife

ruler

spice grinder

Directions:

1.)  Make the Cake. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray sheet pan and parchment evenly with non-stick spray. Mix together 2 Tbsp of milk, egg whites, egg, and vanilla extract in a medium bowl, then set aside. Place all dry cake ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer, then mix on lowest setting for 30 seconds. Add butter, one Tbsp at a time, every 10 seconds to create a sandy mixture. Add the milk, then continue to mix on low for 5 minutes, occasionally using a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides to make sure everything is mixing evenly. Add the liquid egg mixture in 3 additions, waiting for the batter to mix evenly before adding the next batch. Mix for 4 minutes, until the batter is light and evenly mixed. Pour batter into large baking sheet, then smooth the batter out evenly with an offset spatula. Bake the cake for 20-25 minutes or until the top is light golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean. When the cake is done, take it out and let it cool for a few minutes, then invert onto a large cooling rack until it cools completely.

2.)  Make the frosting. Cream butter in stand mixer with paddle attachment for 5 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add the sifted powdered sugar, cornstarch, vanilla, milk, vanilla, lemon juice, and salt, then mix until evenly incorporated. Grind the freeze-dried strawberries in a spice grinder and immediately add the fine powder into the frosting mixture. Scrape the sides of bowl down periodically to make sure all the ingredients are evenly incorporated.

3.)  Assemble the cake. Using round cookie cutter, punch out rounds of cake. Frost the top of 2 rounds with a thin, even layer of frosting. Stack one frosted round on top of another frosted round, then top this with an unfrosted round to create a stack of 3 cake layers. Repeat this process to create 12 cake stacks, then frost all 12 stacks completely with a thin layer of frosting. Frost the top and the sides of the cylinder-like petit fours, then set them aside.

4.)  Prepare Fondant. Use a toothpick to smear 2 large dabs of food coloring into the fondant. With gloved hands, start stretching and pulling the fondant to create a pale, evenly colored pastel blue fondant. Roll the fondant out to a 1/16″ thickness. Cut out 12-6 1/2″ round circles of the fondant, one for each cakelet. Use the quilting tool to create diagonal lines on each fondant piece. If you prefer, use a ruler to get evenly spaced lines.

5.)  Finish the Petit Fours. Place one piece of fondant on each cake stack smoothing the top and sides down with your fingers. Cut off any excess fondant around the base of the petit four by using a sharp knife to go around the base. Use a toothpick to pierce a small hole in each intersection where the diagonal lines meet. Push one dragée into each pierced hole. Repeat this process for all 12 petit fours. These are best served within a day or two. Store in the fridge in a bakery box or in slightly vented tupperware until ready to serve.

Hankook’s Brown Rice Green Tea

My mom came to stay with me a few weeks ago, and sure enough we ended up tasting some tea samples together.  There’s no better way to catch up with your mom than to chat over lovely cup of tea, right?

For as long as I can remember, Genmaicha, has been one of her favorites.  Also known as Japanese brown rice tea or popcorn tea, Genmaicha is nutty and savory yet light-bodied.  My mom and I have only purchased Japanese brands of Genmaicha before because they are the most common to find.

I received this Brown Rice Green Tea, also known as Hyunmi Nokchaas a sample from the Korean tea company, Hankook Teas.  As picky as she is with her brown rice teas, my mom was quick to mention that she thought that this blend was delicious.  Unlike traditional Genmaicha, Hankook’s Hyunmi Nokcha mixes equal proportions of green tea and toasted rice.

Genmaicha traditionally has a higher ratio of roasted rice to tea leaves.  In Hankook’s blend, a greater amount of green tea means that the rich, vegetal flavors of this brew are more pronounced than they would be with Japanese Genmaicha.  Also, the rice in this blend is roasted instead of being popped, which helps to develop deep, almost buttery notes in the tea.

Jaksulcha is also known as “sparrow’s tongue tea.”  It is thought that the shape of the dried leaf resembles a sparrow’s tongue, and the name is generally reserved for artisan Korean green teas.  As this Jaksulcha is harvested in June, it’s brew isn’t as delicate as it would be if the leaves were picked during the Springtime, but it’s bolder flavor and warmer undertones are ideal for complementing the toasted rice flavors.

I brewed Hankook’s Brown Rice Green Tea in my favorite double-paned Korean glazed teacup that I specifically reserve for brewing good quality Jaksulcha.  This type of traditional tea ware is also known as Celadon, which refers to its jade-like color and characteristic hairline cracks that appear across its thick, shiny surface.  I’m not gonna lie, this cost me a pretty penny when I bought it at Hwa Sun Ji in L.A.’s Koreatown last year, but hey, at least I only bought one right? With such unique character and museum-worthy looks, it’s one of the pieces in my collection that I cherish most.

Tasting Notes for Hankook Tea’s Brown Rice Green Tea:

ORIGIN:  Honam Tea Estates, South Korea

BREWING TIPS:   2-3 minutes @ 200 degrees F.

THE LEAF:  Pointed, twisty green tea leaves with an equal proportion of toasted brown rice.

THE SCENT:   Like dried seaweed mixed with freshly popped popcorn.

THE STEEP:  Brews to a soft yellow.  A rich, medium-bodied tea with a sweet and nutty finish.

GET IT:  The blend is available at Hankook Tea’s website.

FOOD PAIRING:  Serve this hot or over ice with Korean Sticky Wings or Bulgogi Gimbap.  The bold flavor of the tea is the perfect palette cleanser after a few bites of spicy Korean food!

Korean Sticky Wings

What!?  Where are the tea sandwiches!?  Yup, you read it right.  You may not think of chicken wings as your typical tea time fare, but I can assure you that tea goes with carnivorous bites just as perfectly as it goes with pretty little cucumber sandwiches.  There’s nothing like a cool, chilled glass of Jaksulcha (Korean green tea) or Boricha (Barley Tea) to take the edge off of those bold flavors that come with Korean cuisine.

These Korean Sticky Wings are the perfect combination of salty, sticky, spicy, and sweet.  Don’t be too intimidated by their red color though…they have just a bit of heat for flavor but aren’t actually hot (I’d give them a 3 out of 10 on the heat scale).  All you need are your fingers, a tall pile of napkins, and some good Korean tea, and you’re in for one of the best Asian tea snacks around.

The best part about these wings?  They’re baked!  No need for the calories or mess that come with deep-frying here.  Just mix, marinade, and bake and you’re pretty much done!  The broiling step of this recipe concentrates the marinade that drips off of the wings during baking to create a shiny lacquer-like finish.  After the wings have broiled for the first 5 minutes, I like to start checking on them every few minutes thereafter to see how they are coming along, just to make sure they don’t get scorched.

When you first start to see little bits caramelizing or burning at the edges of the wings, it’s time to take them out.  The broiling process creates an amazingly flavorful and meaty sauce that pools at the bottom the baking pan.  As the sauce cools it also thickens, and can then be brushed or spooned on the wings as a shiny glaze just before serving.

Finish the wings by throwing on some chopped green onions, cilantro, roasted sesame seeds, and Korean chili flakes, otherwise known as gochugaru.  If you can’t find gochugaru, then crushed red pepper flakes are a good substitute.  The sticky, lacquered surface on the wings acts like a magnet to any of the garnishes that you toss on them, so be generous!  You can’t go wrong pairing these wings with a glass of chilled Barley Tea or Korean Brown Rice Tea, which is a blend of Korean Jaksulcha and toasted rice.  With Korean Sticky Wings, your casual Asian tea time couldn’t get any easier or more delicious!

Korean Sticky Wings

Makes 12-16 wing pieces.

Ingredients:

{Wings}

1 1/2- 2 pounds chicken wing pieces

non-stick spray

{Marinade}

1 Tbsp gochujang (Korean red pepper paste)

1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 Tbsp honey

1 tsp sesame oil

1 tsp ginger, grated

{Garnishes}

chopped scallions

chopped cilantro

roasted sesame seeds

gochugaru (Korean red pepper flakes)

Equipment:

grater

large mixing bowl with cover

large sheet pan

tongs

brush or small spoon

Directions:

1.)  In a large bowl, mix all the marinade ingredients together well.  Add the chicken wings to the marinade, then cover and let sit in the fridge for at least 3 hours, but preferably overnight.

2.)  When you are ready to make the wings, preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Place wings in a single layer on a large sheet pan lightly sprayed with non-stick spray.  Give each wing a quick shake to drain off any excess marinade, then place them on the pan so that they do not touch.

3.)  When the oven comes to temperature, place the tray of wings into the oven and cook for 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes, remove the pan from the oven and flip the wings over, flipping just once. Place the wings back in oven to cook for another 8 minutes.  After 8 minutes, remove the pan from the oven and flip the wings over one last time.  Increase oven to “broil.”  Place wings back in the oven to cook for another 8-10 minutes, or just until the wings get very light burned edges and a dark, glossy finish (check every few minutes after the first 5 minutes of broiling).

4.)  Remove wings from the oven, then let them sit for about 5 minutes to cool.  For a bit of extra gloss, brush or spoon some of the thickened cooking juices/sauce on each wing.  Scatter on green onion, cilantro, roasted sesame seeds, and gochugaru and serve.

Smoked Salmon Spring Rolls

For me, the best of summertime eating always involves making plenty of spring rolls.  In hot weather, there’s nothing better than enjoying a light, fresh meal that won’t leave you feeling heavy or guilty.

This Matcha Monday, I’ve created Smoked Salmon Spring Rolls with a savory Matcha Dipping Sauce.  A few weeks ago, I created a recipe for Rainbow Spring Rolls served with an oolong tea-based Sweet and Sour Dipping Sauce.  Today’s recipe highlights the umami flavors of matcha green tea in another spring roll recipe.  Where my oolong dipping sauce is fruity and bright, today’s matcha dipping sauce is earthy and rich.

When you think of smoked salmon you might be thinking about bagels or tea sandwiches, but it’s actually perfect for using in spring rolls too.  With its brilliant orangey-pink color and salty flavor, it can transform your everyday spring roll into a unique delicacy.  An added bonus is that it’s ready to use straight out of the package.  In today’s recipe, smoked salmon adds savory richness the same way that fish sauce does when you make Vietnamese Spring Rolls the traditional way.

What I love most about these Smoked Salmon Spring Rolls is their texture.  When you bite into these rolls, you’ll sink your teeth into a variety of soft textures first.  The rice wrapper, mung bean noodles, and salmon give the rolls a tender, bouncy bite.  After you’ve gotten through the softer layers, you’ll reach the thin, snappy stalks of haricot vert, otherwise known as French string beans.  These stalky, bright green veggies basically taste like less-starchy green beans. Here, they add an unexpected fresh crunch to the rolls and help to balance out the saltiness of the smoked salmon.

If you want to mix the dipping sauce up using proper culinary technique, you’d want to drizzle the olive oil into the other ingredients slowly, using a wire whisk.  The lazy way is throw all the ingredients into a jam jar and shake away.  The dipping sauce won’t be as thick and emulsified as if you had done it the correct way, but if fast and easy is the name of the game (hey, it’s Monday) this is the way to go.  Any fan of smoked salmon will love these spring rolls.  Feel free to play around with the proportions of the dipping sauce to make sure it’s just the right balance of flavors to suit your palette.  The sauce should be light, bright, and slightly thick, just like a good cup of matcha is.

Smoked Salmon Spring Rolls with Matcha Dipping Sauce

Makes 16 spring rolls.

Ingredients:

{Spring Rolls}

8 oz.smoked salmon, sliced

4 oz. mung bean noodles

8 oz. haricot vert, rough edges trimmed

16 large basil leaves

16 spring roll wrappers

{Matcha Dipping Sauce}

2 Tbsp olive oil

few drops sesame oil

juice of 1 lemon

1 Tbsp mirin

1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar

1 Tsp low-sodium soy sauce

1 Tbsp sugar

2 Tbsp water

1 tsp matcha powder

1/4 tsp salt

cracked black pepper to taste

Equipment:

work surface

large casserole or deep, large dish

medium pot

medium bowl with ice-cold water

wire mesh sieve

strainer

small bowl and whisk or jam jar

Directions:

1.)  Fill a medium pot with water, then bring to a full boil.  Boil the noodles for 2 minutes, then remove from hot water with wire mesh sieve.  Place in strainer, rinse with cold water, and set aside.  Blanch the haricot vert by throwing them into the same boiling water for 1 minute.  Remove the haricot vert with a wire mesh sieve, then plunge into another bowl filled with ice-cold water.  Drain the haricot vert and set aside.

2.)  Fill a large casserole or deep, large dish with about 1″ of warm water.  Submerge 1 spring roll wrapper in the water completely, wait for it to soften for about 10 seconds, then place the sheet on a clean work surface.

3.)  Stack 3-4 stalks of haricot vert in the lower 1/3 section of each sheet, towards the center. Add some mung bean noodles on top of the haricot vert, then top with a piece of smoked salmon and one basil leaf.  Roll up spring roll and fold right and left sides of the wrapper in towards the center of the roll.  Continue rolling upwards (away from you) until you get a completed roll. If you prefer visuals, please check out Andrea Nguyen’s instructions on how to wrap rice paper rolls.  Repeat this step for the rest of the 15 rolls.

4.)  In a small bowl, mix all of the dipping sauce ingredients together, except the olive oil.  Use whisk to stir the ingredients together, then gradually add the olive oil in a stream.  Alternatively, throw all the sauce ingredients in a jam jar and shake well.  Serve the dipping sauce along with the rolls.

 

American Flag Tartlets

When it comes to culinary representations of the U.S. flag, you’ll come across many sweet recipes before you come across any savory ones.  Whether sweet or savory, naturally blue-colored food is actually pretty hard to find.  For desserts, blueberries are the go-to for blue color, but what if you are going for a saltier taste?

Just when I was going to pass up on the savory flag tart idea, I remembered the yummy bag of indigo-blue corn tortilla chips that I had enjoyed with hummus a few weeks ago.  Aside from the rustic and unusual color of blue corn tortilla chips, they also taste amazing, and have a pleasant grittiness about them.  For a flag tart recipe that’s supposed to celebrate America, it’s an added bonus that blue corn is cultivated in the Southwestern U.S. where it’s a staple of Native American cuisine.

The red and white ingredients of this tart were much easier for me to select.  For the red stripes, tomato paste is perfect because not only because of it’s vibrant color and flavor, but also because it’s super easy to use.  Finally, some creamy, soft Neuchâtel cheese creates a white base for these tarts.  Mixed with parmesan and a few neutral-colored flavorings, it’s again easy to use and also easy to find.

Don’t let the savory variation throw you off…decorate these tartlets in the same way that would decorate sugar cookies.  A few sweeps of thick, flavored cream cheese and some piped tomato paste and you’re almost done.  The last tip to create a pretty tartlet is to use some small scraps of foil to help guide where the crumbled blue corn chips fall.

Whether you are American or not, I hope that you have a wonderful July 4th this year!  You can’t go wrong enjoying these tartlets with some Yanabah Navajo Tea or Summertime Sun Tea. And if you are wondering how you might create a tartlet to honor the flag of a different country, leave me a comment!  I’m always up for celebrating another country’s flag in a decorating challenge!

American Flag Tartlets

Makes 12 tartlets. 

Ingredients:

1- 8 oz package Neuchâtel cream cheese @ room temperature

3 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp onion powder

1 tsp lemon juice

1 tsp olive oil

1- 6 oz can or tube of tomato paste

1/2 cup blue corn tortilla chips

1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed (I used Pepperidge Farms brand)

bench flour

Equipment:

work surface

paring knife or pizza cutter

2 large baking sheets

sheet of parchment

zip top bag

rolling pin or heavy pan

pastry bag fitted with #4 pastry tip

mixing bowl

small pieces of foil, folded into 2- 2″ x 1″ small rectangles

Directions:

1.)  Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Scatter some flour on a work surface and lay the puff pastry sheet on it.  Cut the sheet into 12 equal rectangular pieces, then place them on a baking sheet fitted with parchment.  Before baking, let the cut puff pastry chill in the fridge for about 10 minutes to re-harden.

2.)  Run some cold water over the bottom of one of the baking sheets, then shake off excess water.  Place this baking sheet directly on top of the now-chilled puff pastry sheets.  Apply some pressure on the top pan to compact it against the pastry pieces below.  Bake the puff pastry for 25-30 minutes or until the pastry turns golden brown.  Remove the pans from the oven, then let the pastry cool completely.

3.)  Place the chips in a large zip top bag, seal, and smash them into small crumbles using a rolling pin.

4.)  Mix the cream cheese, parmesan, garlic powder, onion powder, olive oil, and lemon juice together.

5.)  Place tomato paste in the pastry bag.

6.)  Spread cream cheese mixture evenly on the pastry rectangles, cleaning the sides of the tart if necessary.  Score a small rectangle in the corner of the pastry where the flag’s blue/star part will be.

7.)  Pipe 7 red lines lengthwise (3 short, 4 long) on the tart then fill the small rectangular corner of the flag tart with the crumbled blue corn chips using some small pieces of foil as a guide. Gently press the crumbles into the cheese to adhere them to the surface.  Remove the foil pieces and you’re done!

Summertime Sun Tea

What’s a girl to do when it’s a hundred degrees outside and moving to Antarctica sounds like a good idea?  Make sun tea, of course!  With July 4th celebrations coming up, everyone is in need of some cool refreshment.  To put it simply, Summertime Sun Tea is the drink of sunshine and rainbows…colorful, nourishing, and just plain delicious!

Sun tea is a method of slow cold water brewing.  This technique produces a gentler tea infusion that’s crisper and clearer than teas brewed the traditional way.  Cold water brewed teas also have less caffeine and are less bitter since the process of steeping isn’t as harsh.

Today I’m using Elmwood Inn’s best-selling Kentucky Black Tea to make my Summertime Sun Tea.  The Kentucky Blend is a Chinese black tea made from tea leaves that originate from Yunnan (Southwestern China) and Anhui (Eastern China).  This blend is my favorite standard black tea because it’s robust without being overwhelming.  It has a rich flavor with sweet grassy notes, and complements fresh fruit flavor extremely well.

I gave up sodas just last summer and haven’t looked back since.  Being obsessed with teas and herbals like I am, this wasn’t as hard to do as I thought it would be.  Summertime is the best time to get over a soda addiction.  It’s the time when fruits and veggies are most plentiful, and this way you’ll never get bored.

Here are some of my favorite iced tea, fruit, and herb steeps.  Some flavor pairings are more adventurous than others, but all of them are delicious in their own unique way.  As always, it’s a very good idea to buy organic fruits if you can.  And as a side note, starchy fruits won’t work well in tea-fruit steeps.

My Favorite Iced Tea & Fruit Combos:

1.  Peaches & Blueberries (with black tea)

2.  Oranges & Mint (with oolong)

3.  Pineapple & Strawberries (with rooibos)

4.  Cucumber & Mint (with green tea)

5.  Strawberry & Basil (with green tea)

6.  Peach & Rosemary (with black tea)

7.  Mango & Ginger (with oolong)

8.  Apple & Spearmint (with green tea)

9.  Grapefruit & Strawberries (with green tea)

10.  Pitted Cherries & Lemon (with black tea)

At any gathering, it’s important to consider those who are going caffeine-free.  Fruit water is the ideal treat for this crowd.  Again, use any fruit that you prefer in these waters, just try to make sure that the fruits aren’t overly ripe so that the water doesn’t get too cloudy.  There’s no need to “sun” these fruit waters.  Simply mix them up and place them in the fridge or in ice a few hours before serving.

I like to call the fruit water steep in the photo above my “Fourth of July Water” because it looks so festive and patriotic.  Generally, the strawberries like to float and blueberries like to sink.  There it is…red, white, and blue!

Say goodbye to sodas this year with some wholesome Summertime Sun Tea.  Salads, burgers, ribs…these yummy, portable drinks are a perfect match for any hot weather-themed meal.  Just a few sips and your picnics and barbeques will never be the same!

Summertime Sun Tea

What You’ll Need:

mason jars with lids

scissors

tea bags, regular or decaf, one for each jar

distilled or spring water (cold or at room temperature)

fruit (not overly ripe, cut into slices or small pieces, & preferably organic)

mint, basil, or other fruit-friendly herbs

timer

tongs

a place in the sun…

a large tub with lots of ice (or a fridge)

Directions:

1.)  Sterilize the jars/lids or wash the mason jars and lids thoroughly with very hot water and soap.  Rinse well.  This step is essential to prevent bacterial growth.  We aren’t canning here but we still want to take proper precautions.

2.)  Place 1 tea bag in each mason jar, cutting off the string part of the tea bag if necessary. Pour cold distilled water into the jar leaving a 1 1/2″ clearance under the rim  (you want room to fill the fruit in later).  Screw lid on mason jars tightly.

3.)  In hot weather under direct sunlight, place the jars of lid-covered tea to brew.  In weather above 90 degrees F you can easily do this in one hour.  Set a timer to keep track of time.  (If it’s not hot where you are or you simply don’t like this sunning method, just park the tea in the fridge to steep for 6-8 hours.  You’ll get the same end result.)

4.)  After 1 hour, take the jars of tea out of the sun.  Open jars and use tongs to place fruit slices/pieces or herbs into each jar.  Screw lids on tightly.  Plunge the mason jar teas into a tub of ice or place them in the fridge for easy drinking later.

***Entertaining Tip:   If you are serving these at a party put a small tub or container next to the tub of sun teas.  Guests can drop the jar lids in when they start sipping.