Guest Blog by Laura Childs, New York Times Bestselling Author of the Tea Shop Mysteries, Scrapbook Mysteries, and Cackleberry Club Mysteries.
With subtle hints of Spring perfuming the air, my thoughts always turn to floral and citrus teas. When only the leaves, roots, or flowers of a plant are infused in boiling water, the result is an herbal tea or tisane. Blended with rich black tea or mild green tea, these floral and citrus brews become complex delights that delight the senses and seem like harbingers of warmer days.
Jasmine tea, for example, is fragrant, refreshing, and a little bit comforting, too. You’ll often find jasmine flowers blended with fresh green tea. I think it’s the perfect brew for those days when you’re cozied up inside watching the rain spatter down.
Rose hips tea always seems slightly exotic and holds a hint of promise - garden parties and soft summer nights when fireflies flicker like heat lighting. Chrysanthemum flavored teas are aromatic but only slightly sweet. Originally dried and blended for Chinese emperors, chrysanthemum tea is made even more delicious by the addition of honey or sugar.
Chamomile tea imparts a slight apple flavor and hibiscus tea is slightly tart and lemony. As days get warmer, both of these teas make wonderful iced teas as well.
Black teas lend themselves to blending and melding with unique flavors. They’re often blended with ginseng, peppermint, peach, mango, or vanilla bean. In my newest Tea Shop Mystery, The Teaberry Strangler, my characters from the Indigo Tea Shop serve up a wonderful blend of black tea with exotic teaberry and mint flavoring.
What do you serve as an accompaniment to these delightful floral and citrus teas? Try cucumber, watercress, and cream cheese tea sandwiches. Or shrimp salad on sourdough crostini. Or cream cheese on date nut bread.
Better still, try these recipes from The Teaberry Strangler:
Pecan Pie Muffins
1 cup brown sugar, packed
½ cup flour
1 cup pecans, chopped
¼ tsp cinnamon
½ cup butter, melted
Combine brown sugar, flour, pecans, and cinnamon in mixing bowl. Beat eggs well, then stir in melted butter. Add egg and butter mixture to dry mixture, stirring until moistened. Spoon batter into foil baking cups that have been greased, filling about 2/3 full. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until done. Remove from pan and cool on wire rack. Yields about 8 or 9 muffins.
Hawaiian Tea Sandwiches
1 cup sugar
2 cups crushed pineapple, drained
1 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped
1 pkg. cream cheese (8 oz.) softened
2 to 3 Tbsp cream
Combine sugar and pineapple in saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Cool, then stir in nuts. Mash cream cheese with fork and add enough cream to create a good spreading consistency. Combine cream cheese with pineapple mixture. Spread mixture on thin bread and top with another slice. Trim off crusts and cut into triangles or finger sandwiches. Serve immediately.