from Chris Halpin
I love to drink pots and pots of tea. However, caffeine can be a problem for me so, about a year ago, I started to play with my own tisane blends. I wanted them to be full flavoured and satisfying, just like the black and green teas I love. I use loose-leaf ingredients and purchase the sachet pouches (tea bags) separately from David’s Tea, Community Natural Foods and The Light Cellar. In this way, I have more control over the freshness and quality at a much-reduced cost. If you opt for this too, the rule of thumb is 1 t. of ingredient for each sachet.
Soothing Evening Tisane
I find this to be very comforting, yet still full-bodied. Into a large teapot put 2 chamomile sachets, 2 slices fresh ginger and 2 slices fresh turmeric. Fill the pot with boiling water and steep for 4 to 6 minutes before consuming. Makes 1 teapot.
Rejuvenating Ice Tea
This tastes just like black tea, it’s good hot, but I love ice tea. I always have a pitcher of this in my fridge. In fact, I’m drinking some right now. In a 2 litre heat-proof pitcher put 2 sachets of each – hibiscus, rosehip, lemon balm – and 3 cardamom pods. Fill with water that’s just about to boil. Let it cool to room temperature before refrigerating. Makes 1 pitcher.
The world of tea and tisanes is seemingly endless. I have just recently started to explore the concept of using them the same way as I would use any other herb. Here is some of what I have come up with.
Earl Grey and Mint Lamb Chops
The earl grey bridges perfectly with the mint and parsley. Wow! Into a bowl put 1 t. earl grey tea, 1/4 c. fresh mint, finely chopped, 1/2 c. fresh parsley, finely chopped, 2 garlic cloves, crushed, 1/4 c. olive oil, 1 t. each pepper and salt and mix well. Preheat the oven to 400° F. Pat evenly onto a lamb rack and arrange on a baking pan. Place in the oven and roast for 15 minutes for rare or longer to suit your preference. Remove from the oven and let rest 5 minutes before slicing into chops. Serves 4.
Lapsang Souchong Glazed Pork Tenderloin
Lapsang souchong is a smoked tea that has fruity overtones, making it perfect for pork. This tea can be a little tricky to find. I buy mine at The Light Cellar. In a bowl, put ١/٤ c. liquid honey, 1 garlic clove, crushed, 1 t. chile flakes, 1 t. lapsang souchong and a pinch of cloves. Mix well. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place 1 large pork tenderloin on a baking sheet, rub with 1 T. canola oil and sprinkle with salt. Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. With a spoon, liberally smear the glaze over the pork and return to the oven. Roast for 5 minutes more, then repeat to give it another coating. Return to the oven for another 5 minutes. Remove from the oven, slice and spoon some of the glaze over the pork. Serves 2 to 4.
Oolong Mushroom Soup, with a Chèvre Crouton and Matcha Salt
The oolong opens the earthy flavours of the mushrooms and makes the broth richer. In a pot, put 2 T. olive oil and place over medium heat, add 2 c. cremini mushrooms, sliced, 1 leek, thinly sliced, ١/٢ t. ground sage, salt and pepper to taste. Sauté for about 5 minutes, then add 4 c. beef stock, 1 potato, peeled and grated and 1 sachet of oolong tea. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes, then remove the tea bag and simmer another 10 minutes. While this is simmering, take 1 slice of dark rye bread and toast it, then cut into 4 triangles and smear each with some chèvre. When the soup is ready, spoon it into 4 bowls, place a crostini in the centre and sprinkle with matcha salt. Serves 4.
Matcha Green Tea Salt
I use this as a garnish or finishing salt for salad and the like. I prefer Diamond Crystal kosher salt as it powders easily. In a bowl, put ١/٢ c. salt and ١/٤ c. matcha tea. With your fingers, rub them together until the salt powders. Store in a jar in your cupboard and see how often you find yourself using it. Makes 3/4 cup.
Chamomile, Hibiscus Poached Salmon, with Savoury Whipped Cream and Matcha Salt
Hibiscus has a tangy citrus quality, while the chamomile brings in a lovely grass flavour. Savoury whipped cream is a really easy and eye-catching way to have a “sauce.” In a bowl put 2 c. whipping cream, a pinch of salt and whisk to soft peaks. Then add 1 garlic clove crushed, 1 t. Sriracha and whisk to fully incorporate. Place in the fridge for later. To poach the salmon, in a stainless-steel pan put 5 c. water, 1 chamomile sachet, 2 hibiscus sachets, 3 garlic cloves, cut in half lengthwise, and 1 T. salt. Place over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Place 4 salmon fillets into this and poach for 8 minutes. Remove from the pan and place on a bed of greens that have been rolled in 1 t. sesame oil and a pinch of salt. Spoon some of the cream over the centre and sprinkle with matcha salt. Serves 4.
Chai Posset with Mandarin Compote and Chile Threads
Possets are my favourite type of pudding, they’re so easy to make and share the same delightful texture as a crème brulée without the fuss. The flavours in this compote swirl and pop. Into a pot put 2 c. whipping cream, 1 chai sachet, 1/3 c. sugar and place over medium heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar and bring to the boil. Allow to boil rapidly for 2 minutes before removing from the heat. Into a measuring cup, put 3 T. lemon juice and 1 T. orange juice concentrate, stir to dissolve and then stir this into the hot chai cream. Remove the tea bag and divide the chai cream into 4 ramekins and place in the fridge to chill and set, about 1 hour. Drain a can of mandarin orange segments and place in a bowl, with 2 T. Cointreau, 2 T. icing sugar and a pinch of saffron. Gently mix together and let stand at room temperature until you’re ready to serve. When you’re ready to serve, spoon some of the compote in the centre of each posset and garnish with chile threads. (These can be purchased at any Korean grocery or specialty food establishment.) Serves 4.