End-of-Summer Tea Delights Abound
By Diana Rosen
Popsicles aren't just for kids
We suggest tea-infused Italian-style granitas, old-fashioned American popsicles or flavored ice cubes to satisfy both the most sophisticated palate and the kid-at-heart in anyone.
A few things to remember when making cold to icy drinks or foods with tea: always add more! Double the tea leaves or tea bags, add more sweetener and more fruity ingredients than usual because iciness reduces the flavor of each. Mild honey like wildflower or palm or coconut sugars are terrific and don't overpower other ingredients yet offer the sweetness necessary much better than artificial sweeteners which often leave a bitterness when frozen or chilled.
These delicious desserts require no special appliance or equipment, take very little work and offer a nearly endless variety. The texture you choose can range from snow cone to a crumbled sorbet.
Brew 4 cups of water with 8 teabags or 8 teaspoons of your favorite tea, particularly a flavored green or black or an herbal infusion. Pour the infused liquor into a shallow dish, preferably glass or porcelain that is heat/freezer safe. Allow to cool then carefully place it in the freezer for about 45 minutes to an hour or until ice crystals form. Remove the dish and, using a stainless steel fork, break the ice into fine crystals. Return the dish to the freezer for 30 minutes more and repeat the process several times or until the mixture is thoroughly frozen. To serve, break through the content once more before spooning into small bowls or elegant small champagne glasses. Garnish, as desired, with a thin slice of cucumber or large strawberry slit enough to sit on the rim of the glass or bowl, or a sprinkle of crushed coconut, slivered almonds or a small slice of fruit, depending on the tea granita flavor you're using. Serve immediately. Yield: approximately 8 to 10 small servings.
Tea-Infused Ice Cubes
Saving leftover tea liquor in ice cube trays is a time-honored way to get more mileage out of your tea and serve iced tea without diluting the flavor with traditional water ice cubes. Carry this a little further by placing slices of stone fruit, berries or mint leaves in each cube to amp up the flavor. Pretty and delicious, too!
Grab a few plastic popsicle molds next time you're in the drug store or supermarket and make yummy popsicles from tea.
These are particularly refreshing with your favorite fruity herbal infusion or fruity green or black tea. Use honey here to bring out the the fruitiness versus sugar.
Use 2 teabags or 2 teaspoons of tea or herbal infusion to each cup of heated water. Brew to full strength. Allow to cool slightly, then add the honey. Taste and adjust honey as necessary. Pour into molds and freeze for 45 minutes to an hour. Remove and add a popsicle stick in the center of each and freeze thoroughly several hours or overnight. Ready when you are!
Variations: For a creamier popsicle, add condensed milk, coconut milk or blended avocado (great with green tea!) or for visual excitement, add pieces of fruit, particularly strawberries, pineapple or coconut chunks, about a heaping teaspoon per popsicle, blended.
Alternatives to popsicle molds: Fill disposable cups with the tea or herbal infusion, cover with plastic wrap, cut a slit in the top and freeze for at least one hour. Remove and add the craft stick and replace in the freezer about 2 to 4 hours. Yield depends on size of paper cups; use 2 to 3" high cups.