Saturday, July 9, 2011

Ice Tea Pops and India

The Ar River, on the way to Meieringen, Switzerland, with my beloved
mountains in the rear.

This weekend is going to be very warm and, of course, there is ice tea in the fridge. However, I have been on a Popsicle kick of late. I happened to come across a recipe for a Peach Iced Tea frozen pop recipe in the magazine Every Day With Rachel Ray. Here it is:

Peach Iced Tea Pops - makes 10

1/2 cup sugar
3 bags English Breakfast tea
2 large sprigs mint
3/4 cup chilled peach nectar
1/2 cup drained diced canned peaches

1. Bring sugar and 2 cups of water to a boil, lower the heat and simmer until the sugar is dissolved. Add the tea bags and mint and steep for 10 minutes. Discard the teabags and mint. Stir in the peach nectar.
2. Divide the peaches among the molds and fill with the mixture, freeze for about an hour and then redistribute the peaches to suspend them, if you want to. Put in the sticks and freeze until solid, about 4 hours. Run the molds under hot water to remove the pops.

I am sure by altering the type of tea and type of fruit, you could use this as a basic recipe for many kinds of tea pops. You can buy molds in a number of places like Walmart, Target, TJ Maxx and the like, they are quite inexpensive. You can get very snazzy ones on line.

I am reading an interesting book, Curries and Bugles by Jennifer Brennan, who grew up in the last days of the British Raj - before India got its freedom from the British Empire. It is part cookbook, part memoir. There is a chapter about afternoon tea.

She writes "As a meal, tea served more than the mere social habit of meeting and gossiping. It began to fulfil a uniquely useful function of providing an occasion wherein people could be entertained without the rigid social structures that invaded luncheons and dinners." It brought "home" to them every day and their cooks loved it because they could show off their skills with "sugar confectionery". She gives several recipes that are British and some that show the influence of India. The book is out of print, but you can get it at , which has a huge assortment of tea books, good prices and good service.

I guess I had best have an Indian tea with this book. My selection is Upton Teas TM53, Wah Estate 1st Flush, Kangra SFTGFOP1. It comes from the Kangra Valley in Himachal Pradesh, near Dharmashala, in the far northeast, the land of the Dali Lama. It is one of the first spots that China tea plants were farmed. Unusual for a first flush, Upton's recommends 3 minutes at 212 degrees.

The dry scent is a very strong, almost pungent, green; perhaps like fresh-cut tangy weeds. The leaves are on the small side, ranging from a light, silvery green to very dark. It brews up to an ecru color and the aroma has morphed into something approaching asparagus, with a hint of lemon and toasted marshmallows. I really like the flavor, but I can't pin it down. It is unlike any first flush I have had, not that I have had a great many. It is definitely vegetal, but not grassy, a bit like roast corn, but not, perhaps more straw like. There is a bit of sweetness to it, but only a bit. I think I will just say it is very good and I am intrigued by its elusiveness.

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