Monday, December 2, 2013

Mulled Hibiscus Ginger Tea

I love hibiscus tea.  I love ginger tea.  So why had I never thought to put the two together?  Alas, it took a visit to the Philippines and meeting a cousin of mine for the first time over lunch to kindle the spark.  She has quite the reputation as a vegan chef there, so naturally we met at a vegetarian restaurant with beautiful food.  After exchanging pleasantries, hugs, and taking photos (of course), we sat down for an awesome family style gluten-free, vegan meal.  To drink, I had what they called a roselle cooler - a hibiscus iced tea with cardamom, lemongrass, and vanilla - and was instantly smitten.  Normally, I am not a shy consumer of liquids, but with this drink, so interesting, layered, and complementary to the many bold flavors of our meal, I was happy to sip leisurely, not wanting the experience to be over too soon.

I didn't take any photos of food during our lunch.  It was that good. 

So when I arrived home in the States, I was intent on nurturing that seed that was planted.  Another thing that I love is mulled cider, so I incorporated aspects of that into my experiment as well.  And the result did not disappoint - lightly sweet, lavishly aromatic, and warming in all aspects of the word.  I know that it would make a spectacular iced tea, and look forward to testing that hypothesis upon the return of the Texas trademark triple digit Summer.  But as we're actually having the semblance of Winter, complete with scarves, mittens, and toboggan hats meant to make the wearer look like a kitten or koala, in the meantime I will enjoy this tea in a mug that I will happily hold with both hands.

Mulled Hibiscus Ginger Tea
Gluten-Free & Vegan

Active Prep Time:  less than a minute
Inactive Prep Time: at least 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 15-30 minutes
Yield:  about 4 cups

4 cup filtered water
3 inch knob ginger, sliced and smashed
6 cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick

1/2 lemon
1/4 c coconut sugar

1 heaping tablespoon dried hibiscus flowers

What you'll need:  small saucepan with lid

1.  Combine water, smashed ginger, cardamom pods, and cinnamon stick in saucepan.  Bring to a boil.
2.  Once it has reached a boil, lower heat to an active simmer.  Squeeze juice from lemon before adding it to the mix along with the coconut sugar.  Allow to cook for at least 15 minutes uncovered.
3.  Finally, add hibiscus, remove from heat, and cover with the lid.  Allow to steep for at least 5 minutes.
4.  Components can be strained from the tea, but if you would not be opposed to the flavors continuing to build and meld together, feel free to leave them in to continue the infusion process.

Ingredients in stillness.

Hibiscus flowers added and ready to steep.

A deep red color after just a few minutes.

From hibiscus tea, to salabat, a classic Filipino ginger lemon infusion, to mulled cider, I hope you enjoy this convergence of favorites as much as I do.  With a wealth of health benefits to bolster the body against the ill effects of the change in seasons, this is a tea that is all at once festive, healing, and a joy to drink and share.

Very much like its inspiration, an experience you will want to savor.

[raises mug for a toast]

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