Tea on the Rocks and On Your Plate

With everything garnering a twist to its traditional usage, why should we stop at just drinking tea? Why not go a step further and begin to infuse tea into the food and beverages we consume? Summer is still far from being over and a tea infused cocktail served alongside a delicious dish infused with tea can impress your friends and perhaps, if you follow the instructions closely, even make them turn a little green with envy.

Bourbon has always had a reputation for complimenting the flavour of tea and a sweet tea bourbon cocktail can do wonders for you in the summers. To make this cocktail, you will need the following:

  • 6 cups of water.
  • 4 to 5 Halmari black tea bags.
  • ¼ cup of honey.
  • ¼ or ½ of bourbon (depending on how strong you like your cocktails to be).
  • 4 to 6 slices of orange.
  • 6 sprigs of fresh mint.
  • Ice. Lots of it.

Bring a pitcher of water to a boil and then turn off the gas. Steep the black tea bags in the water for 3 to 5 minutes and then remove them. Pour the tea into a jug or a pitcher and then let it refrigerate until it turns cold. Put the bourbon, honey, the orange slices and fresh mint into a bowl and begin to mash them together. Be gentle. You are attempting to make a cocktail, not a paste. Once the oranges and the mint release their juices, add the mixture to the tea, straining the orange wedges and the mint while you pour the mixture into the pitcher of tea. After you have done so, stir well until you are sure the bourbon has been integrated into the tea

Fill a whiskey tumbler halfway through with crushed ice and, then, pour the cocktail in. You have your sweet bourbon tea cocktail, chilled and ready to be served.

Cocktails are fine. However, they do not fill a belly. They will stave off your hungry guests for a short while but, sooner or later, you’ll need to serve some food. The following recipe for the tea-smoked roast chicken will compliment your pre-dinner cocktail. Furthermore, as this dish easily serves 4 to 6 people, it is an incredibly hassle free course to serve to your guests at a dinner party. The following ingredients will be necessary to prepare this dish:

For the brine for the chicken:

  • 500ml of water
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 5 dried red chillies
  • 4 star anise pods
  • 1 whole fresh ginger
  • The zest of a small orange
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 cup of soya sauce
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • 1 whole chicken ( or two, if you are hosting a larger number)

For the tea-smoking mixture:

  • Half a cup of jasmine rice.
  • ¼ cup of sugar.
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar.
  • ¼ cup of loose Halmari black tea.
  • 6 star anise pods.
  • 4 dried red chillies.
  • Vegetable oil.
  • Salt, according to your personal taste.

In a large pot, combine the ingredients for the brine and let it simmer for 10 minutes on medium heat. Cool the brine down and then pour it into a large ziploc bag. Add the whole chicken to the brine, making sure the brine coats the entirety of the chicken. Lock the bag and let it refrigerate for some time. The longer the chicken brines, the better the taste will be. For an optimum taste, it would be ideal to let the chicken refrigerate for up to 24 hours.

For the smoking mixture, put the rice, sugar, tea, star anise and chillies in a medium sized bowl and mix well. Line a thick tray with two sheets of aluminium foil and scatter the smoking mixture on the tray, ensuring it evenly lines over the tray. Preheat the oven to a high temperature. Take the chicken out of the brine and pat it dry and then proceed to put it on the tray, on top of the mixture. Cover the chicken entirely with aluminium foil and put it in the oven. Let the chicken cook on high heat for 2 to 3 minutes and then bring the temperature down to medium. Let the chicken cook for an additional 5 minutes before taking it out. Remove the foil and let the chicken rest for 10 minutes.

Then, massage the chicken with vegetable oil, salt and, optionally, pepper, if you like. Put it back on a tray, this time without the smoking mixture, breast side up and stick the chicken into the oven on high heat, letting it roast for 30 to 35 minutes. Carve up the chicken, serve it on a bed of jasmine rice and your guests will not want to leave.

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