Wednesday, September 23, 2009
The summer before eight grade, my mother and sisters and I spent a summer in Juanchorrey, Mexico. It's a small town near Tepetongo, which, in turn, is near Jerez, which is near Zacatecas in the state of Zacatecas. If you're guessing it was in the middle of nothing, you would probably be right.
I remember many things about that summer, particularly the heat, as well as swimming in the rivers there. Most of all, though, I remember all of the pigs. In certain parts of Mexico, there are stray dogs that just, well, run free, as strays do. In Juanchorrey, however, it wasn't dogs that we were worried about, it was pigs.
From what I can remember, there were more pigs than dogs, and even though I can hardly believe that they were stray, they were just running all over the place.
The one thing, however, that has stuck with me, is my mom making us Te de Salvia, and how she just went outside, picked the sage leaves off the plants and just boiled them in water. I remember it tasting so good, even though I have no recollection of how exactly it tasted.
Oddly enough, herbal teas have been like a red thread through my life. My favorite tea before I left for college was Te de Manzanilla. Unfortunately for me, I couldn't find it anywhere. It would take two years before I looked in an English-Spanish Dictionary and discovered that it was called Chamomille. I looked it up before I left for Berlin. It's called Kamillentee here.
Now, I've had a lot of experience with drinking Sage Tea, which I do every now and again, even though it's really not my thing anymore. And I have the occasional Chamomille tea. Lately, though, my tastes have been drifting toward Peppermint, though.
Amy and I went to Paris in mid-August. We were armed with Clotilde's Edible Adventures in Paris and were cross-referencing with the small mapbook Paris Pratique, a must for any visitor to the city. L'Indispensable, indeed.
We ended up at La Ferme Opera, which was about a ten minute walk from the Musée des Arts Décoratifs. Deciding on a menu was easy, but looking at the drinks, it was either water or...
I had never encountered the word Romarin before, though I know Rosmarin, Romero, and Rosemary. I snatched it up and enjoyed it with my veggie tart.
The day after we got home, I went to the Galeries Lafayette here in Berlin to see if I could find some of the things we had eaten in Paris, and there I found another bottle of Romarin Tisane. However, my excitement was soon smothered by the price: 2,50€. For a small bottle.
Of course, this was not going to be a regular drink for me. Or was it? For some reason, many ingredients in the EU have their ingredients listed on the side with percentages given for some ingredients. In this case, we had water, rosemary, raspberry juice, and lemon juice. Oh, hold on, that's 8 percent raspberry juice to be exact.
Armed with this knowledge, I raced to the nearest Bio-laden to get 100% pure raspberry juice. Unfortunately, none was to be had, so I had to make do with second best. Pure blueberry juice, which was very pricey, a mixture of fruit juices with honey, and red grape juice, which was not so pricey.
I began by steeping about 30g fresh Rosemary leaves in about a liter of just boiled hot water. The Erlenmeyer Flask is just for show. Rather, I have it around for making beer, so you don't have to run out and buy one for making this. A four cup or even a two cup Pyrex glass will also do the trick. Important is that you can pour it out.
Let it steep for about an hour. The rosemary flavor will actually increase the longer you steep it, and I have done it overnight for a big rosemary punch. Then again, I love leaving teabags in my cup in order to have very strong tea.
I used a cheesecloth held to the flask with a rubber band in order to strain the cooled tea into another container such as a clean water bottle.
Next, measure out 8% of juice in relation to the final amount of tea. That is, if you want a liter of tea, you will add 80mL of juice. If you want a liter and a half, which is what I did, you add 120mL of juice. Last, add a squirt of lemon juice. Just enough that you can taste a bit of sourness, but not enough that it overwhelms the tea. Perhaps about 1% to offset the Rosemary.
The results? The original Romarin Tisane is on the left. The juice and honey mix yielded a light color and tasted only so-so. The next one with the grape was a bit closer to the color, but the one with the Blueberry juice was too dark. Still, it was the best tasting, with the tartness contrasting with the strong Rosemary flavor.
Chill well before serving. It tastes awesome at room temperature, but even better chilled.
These days, however, I use a mix of half grape juice and half blueberry juice. Alas, I still cannot find 100% raspberry juice, but have been eyeing the Pomegranates that are just coming into season. Perhaps a new mix is in order?
Here's a recipe for those of you who want to follow one down to the last milliliter:
Yield: 1 Liter
20g fresh Rosemary
80mL slightly tart 100% juice such as Raspberry or Pomegranate (not cranberry, though- you have been warned!)
5mL lemon Juice
1L Water, plus a bit more to top up at the end.
Take about 30g fresh Rosemary and steep in a full liter of hot, nearly boiling water. After 4 hours, strain the tea into a liter pitcher or container. Add the Raspberry and lemon juices and mix well. Add enough water to yield exactly 1L. Serve Chilled.