Thursday, January 21, 2016

My Wintertime Tea Concoctions

I know that's a strange title for a blog post, but I was trying to decide if I should share a few of the blends I like to drink once the temperature starts to dip. This weekend we're supposed to get our first proper storm of the year, so I thought it would be a good excuse to post the brews I like to construct for chilly days and sore throats.

The first infusion I call my 'kitchen sink' brew, basically because I put whatever soothing ingredients I have around the house based on how I feel. When I'm chilled or a little run down and need some healing, I'll pick and choose from the following:

Ginger: Grate about a teaspoon or two and pour boiling water over it and add other ingredients, or simmer a knob of ginger for about 15 minutes, take off the boil and add other items. I often do ginger on its own, or with just lemon and honey for a relaxing after dinner drink. But it makes a good base for my 'kitchen sink' brew.

Turmeric: If I have fresh turmeric, I treat it the same way as ginger. If dried, I'll add after the water has been heated. Turmeric is very earthy and can get a bit bitter, so adding at least a bit of lemon or honey will help even out your sips.

Apple Cider Vinegar: I know, this seems weird, but it really is great in a tea infusion! I'll add a tablespoon (give or take) to the warm water after boiling/steeping other ingredients. If you're adding ACV, you should definitely do honey as well. It takes away a bit of the astringent/stinging feeling you can get from it. But trust me, it really helps a sore throat! If you like the taste of kombucha, you won't mind ACV, but it is definitely something that can take getting used to, especially warm. I didn't love it at first, but now I even drink it diluted in a glass of water without any sweetener. I really like the sour fermented taste.

Garlic:When  I really want something healing and if I'm congested enough not to taste very well, I'll add a clove a garlic to the mix. I know, it's definitely not tasty, but it does make me feel a bit better. I'll simmer the garlic with the ginger/turmeric. I'll even make myself eat the clove after, but that's when I'm really in need of help.

Tea (of course): When I need a bit of a caffeine kick, I'll add some black tea to the crazy combination of ingredients. I find it gives everything a nice depth of flavor and roundness. But if I'm brewing this in the evening I usually leave the tea out. I suppose you could add a bit of rooibos for some added flavor without caffeine, but I've just never been a big fan of it.

Spices: If I'm adding ACV, I don't usually play around with spices since that pungent stuff will mask most flavors. But if I'm just doing ginger or turmeric, I'll sometimes add cinnamon, cloves, cardamom or even peppercorns to make things interesting. But I often go without spices altogether, especially if I'm not feeling great.

When I'm not in the mood for a 'kitchen sink' brew, I'll often make:

Hot Toddy- for times that I'm looking for a dash of booze in my brew, I'll make a hot toddy. We recently made a few for our Office Tea Club (if you follow me on instagram you'll know a bit about the club). A hot toddy doesn't really need to have tea added, but why wouldn't you want some warming tea with your booze and spices? I usually choose the alcohol first (I've tried whiskey, rum, and scotch before, all with great results), and then pick some spices (cinnamon or cloves are always good), add some honey and lemon or orange (juice and/or zest) to taste.

Holy Ginger- I love this blend of tulsi and dried ginger from Happy Earth Tea. I often add a squeeze of lemon and dash of honey for a perfectly comforting blend. The Littlest Tea Critic is also a big fan. We'll have it on chilly evenings before bed, or when one of us isn't feeling well.

This weekend as we cozy up at home baking cookies and simmering stews I'll also be sipping on a few of my concoctions. I'm always looking for more ingredients to add to my winter tea brews. If you have any suggestions, definitely let me know! Stay warm and enjoy the snow if you get some!

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