I’m off on a much-needed vacation this week with my husband Scott. While we wander the wilds of Lancaster County, PA, a few of my favorite bloggers will be dropping by to keep you entertained. First up is Alexis Siemons from the gorgeous blog teaspoons & petals. A freelance writer and tea consultant, she writes evocatively of tea and its many accompaniments. Today Alexis has a recipe for elderberry syrup and the perfect chilled tea to pair with it.
Warm days are fleeting as fall is creeping into the leaves and cooling the air. In hopes of holding on to summer just a bit longer, I’ve been steeping floral tea blends. The blossoming aromas of White Rose, Lavender & Mint and Jasmine Pearls are filling my kitchen with fresh-from-the-garden scents.
During a recent trip to a local spice shop, I perused the $1 basket in search of a new flavor. I love to close my eyes and reach in for a surprise find. This time, I jumped for joy when I saw a petite bag of dried elderberries lingering in the basket. While I’ve often tasted drinks mixed with the sweet berry, I’ve never brought them into my tea lab (a.k.a my kitchen counter).
In hopes of pairing the earthy berries with a fragrant tea, I decided to make an elderberry syrup to mix with the smooth, perfumed notes of Jasmine Pearls green tea. Combining the berries with water in a pot, the syrup had started to simmer on the stove. Before moving on to the steep, I took a moment to watch the tiny elderberries paint the water a deep eggplant shade.
The kettle began to sing its sweet song and I carefully spooned the delicate tea pearls into the infuser. (FYI the green tea leaves are naturally scented with fresh jasmine flowers and then hand-rolled into tiny pearls-a true art!). After the water had slightly cooled to a gentle steam, I poured it over the pearls and watched them tumble about in the infuser, slowly unfurling and releasing their jasmine fragrance.
The tea cooled on the counter as the berries finished their simmering dance. I strained them with a fine mesh infuser, squeezing out every drop of juice with a spoon. Normally when making a syrup you might use a 1:1 ratio of water to sweetener, but I prefer lighter syrups (only ½ cup of honey) that let the tea flavor still shine. I slowly stirred in summer amber pure honey from Two Gander Farm in Fleetwood, PA. The richness of the summer amber honey was a sweet companion to the earthy berries. After the syrup and tea had cooled, I poured them into a glass jar and bottle and let them chill in the fridge overnight.
Waking with a craving for a lightly sweetened sip, I headed to my fridge. The glass jar of the regal, deep purple elderberry syrup caught my eye. I poured the sweet and floral jasmine green tea into a tiny jar and stirred in a few spoonfuls of the syrup. Before adding a sprig of mint, I stole a sip. The smooth and refreshing green tea balanced the deep, earthy flavor of the elderberry syrup. The floral notes lingered on the palate as I watched summer start to fade from the window.
Recipes for the elderberry syrup and chilled tea after the jump…