Thursday, December 21, 2017

Three Tasty Treats - A Honey and Two Teas

At the end of October I added the zest of my Etrog from Sukkot to honey and plopped it on the window sill. For nearly a month, every morning I flipped the container over, in attempt to fully infuse the honey. I then strained the honey into a fresh container:

And the result was: honey with a hint of etrog. It worked! Seriously, the honey definitely took on the distinct flavor of an etrog. I suppose to anyone who's done infusing before this is probably obvious. But to a newbie, I'm really surprised how well it worked.

I also tried infusing some basil and mint into honey, and that worked as well (though I'm not sure how badly I need basil tasting honey).

Of all the experiments I've done with etrogs this one has been the most successful. It was easy to do and the results were tasty. As a bonus, unlike say etrog liqueur, it's quite practical.

I'm a sucker for crazy interesting sounding teas. I keep an eye out for them when I travel, which explains why I've got anise, cactus and even oregano (yes, oregano) tea in my cabinet. Sure, most of the flavors end up being an acquired taste, but that doesn't stop me from continuing my search. A friend who was traveling to Jordan embraced my tea challenge and sent me a variety of boxes. One of the stand out selections was this guy:

First off, I love that the only bit of English on the top of the box is the directive to not add sugar. One has to ask, what exactly happens if you add sugar?

Fortunately, half the box is English so it was trivial to figure out what the flavor of the tea was. Any guesses?

It's Cumin and Lemon. Yes, cumin. Sniffing a tea bag was like sniffing a teaspoon of cumin you're about to add to that chili recipe. I have to admit, I didn't have high hopes for this tea.

I boiled some water, dropped in a tea bag and let it sit for 3 minutes. And then I took a sip.

Whoa! I can honestly say, this tasted unlike any tea I'd ever had. The flavor that came immediately to mind was that of chicken soup. The strong cumin flavor from the dry tea was gone, but it was replaced by a salty, savory flavor. I was sure that the ingredients included chicken stock, but no, it's just cumin, citric acid and salt. I'd never seen tea with salt in it, but the salt content was small enough that the box claims there's 0 grams of sodium present:

I'm not exactly sure what pairs best with cumin tea, but I'm thinking that it would be especially tasty on a chilly night while camping.

Naturally, I had to google Cumin Tea to see what others had to say about this drink. And what do you know, it's a cure-all food. From weight loss, to reducing stress, to killing intestinal worms, cumin tea does it all. I can't guarantee any of the health benefits, but I can promise you a unique tea drinking experience.

Another stand out tea from my friend's trip to Jordan was this guy:

So that picture didn't mean much to me. But at least I think it's safe to add sugar. Flipping the box over, the English name didn't exactly clear things up. It's called Zhourat Shamia. The ingredient list did look promising:

It isn't often one gets to drink Lemon Flowers, Marshmallow Flowers and Damask Roses. I brewed up a cup of tea and took a sip. It was far milder than the cumin and lemon, but still unique. And most importantly, quite delicious. I think what makes it work for me is the green tea base with the flavors of the flowers kicking things up a notch. I want to love herbal teas, but most of them just don't do it for me. Give me a good o'l cup of black Lipton, thank you very much. But Zhourat was tea'y enough, that I could really enjoy the additional favors.

A quick search on the web showed me that I wasn't the only discoverer of Zhourat tea. Yulia had a similar experience, though she made her discovery by actually moving to Lebanon. Me, I just had to have a friend visit Jordan.

A search for Zhourat tea turned up another oddity, mainly an article in NIH's pubmed database. The scientific paper in question reports that a number cultures have recipes for Zhourat tea, but thanks to the research conducted, they confirmed that all variants have enough in common to justify the medical claims that go with the drink. Look at that, another super health food to add to the checklist.

Next time I'm at a truly authentic middle eastern restaurant I'll have to keep an eye out for Zhourat tea. And you should too. This is a winner.

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