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Tom Kitchin: Tea gives a lovely balance to desserts

Citrus fruits with Earl Grey jelly. Picture: Marc Millar (marcmillarphotography.com)

Citrus fruits with Earl Grey jelly. Picture: Marc Millar (marcmillarphotography.com)

  • by TOM KITCHIN
 

THE warm weather we’ve had recently has seen us all reaching for something to cool us down. But believe me, it doesn’t get much hotter than working in a kitchen.

We’re pretty passionate about tea drinking in this country but the sunshine doesn’t mean we have to stop sipping. I always enjoy a cup of tea before service and encourage my brigade of chefs to do the same no matter what time of year. Some say a good way to cool down on a hot day is by drinking something warm like tea because it warms you up on the inside, which increases blood flow and you give off heat, ultimately cooling you down. Although there’s a certain truth in it, my favourite way to drink our nation’s much loved beverage at this time of year is iced.

You can have loads of fun creating your own home-made recipes using a variety of teas, fresh seasonal fruit and spices or herbs like basil or mint. It can be tempting to buy your iced teas, but a lot of these ready-made varieties contain a huge amount of sugar, so I’d really recommend you try making your own. They’re so easy to make and if you’re having friends over for afternoon tea or an evening barbecue they’re the ideal thing to prepare and serve from big jugs or cocktail bowls, and garnish with fresh, seasonal fruit or herbs.

I have also been inspired to use tea as an infusion in my desserts. The flavour you get from the tea gives them a lovely balance and offers your guests something a little different to try.

Iced teas are a perfect way to get the natural goodness found in teas and so much better to enjoy than fizzy, sugary juices. You can use any kind of tea as your base – Earl Grey, green tea, chamomile and ginger also work well if you want to give your drink an extra kick. If you want to add a little sweetness then fresh fruit is perfect, or you can add a small dash of honey – a good partner to chamomile tea.

The trick when you’re making iced teas is not to over-brew the tea or you’ll end up with a drink that tastes quite bitter and acidic. You’re best to steep it according to the package recommendations as times of brewing do depend on the type of tea you’re using. Resist the urge to add your fruit and spices before it’s brewed too. It’s much better if you add the fruit once it’s brewed. Then, you can leave the tea to cool to room temperature before you add the ice.

The best way is to add ice to your serving jug or glass and then slowly pour your flavoured tea over the top, then garnish with your fresh, seasonal fruit. What could be more simple, seasonal and refreshing?

Raspberry Apple Iced Tea

5 fresh raspberries

wedge of apple muddled in base of shaker

75ml cold green tea

75ml pressed apple

20ml lemon juice

15ml sugar syrup

Garnish

2 raspberries speared on top of drink

lemon peel

Method

Combine all ingredients into a shaker and shake vigorously. Double strain the liquid into a highball glass filled with ice. Serve with a strawberry and two raspberries speared on top of the drink with a twist of lemon peel.

Citrus fruit with Earl Grey JellY and sorbet

For the jelly

2½ leaves gelatin

juice of 8 oranges

5 Earl Grey teabags

50g sugar

2 oranges

2 blood oranges

2 pink grapefruits

2 white grapefruits

2 limes

handful fresh mint

For the sorbet

30ml water

80g sugar

4 Earl Grey teabags

400ml orange juice (6-8 oranges)

150ml pink grapefruit juice

To make the jelly

Soak the gelatin leaves in water for three to four minutes until soft, then squeeze out the excess water. Pour the orange juice into a saucepan and gently warm until simmering. Add the teabags and the sugar – if the oranges are a bit sour, add a little more sugar. Whisk in the gelatin. Leave to infuse for five minutes, then pass through a fine sieve. Leave the liquid to cool in the fridge for ten to 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, peel and segment the oranges, grapefruit and limes. Pour the cooled liquid on top of the citrus segments in the serving bowls, making sure all the fruit is covered. Cut the mint leaves into fine strips and sprinkle them over the jelly. Leave the jelly in the fridge to set - one and a half to two hours.

To make the sorbet

Put water and sugar into a pan, bring to the boil and add teabags. Stir in the orange and grapefruit juice, then pass through a fine sieve. Freeze in an ice cream machine.

To serve

Remove the jellies from the fridge and wipe around the rim of the dishes to remove any condensation. Add a scoop of sorbet to the middle of each jelly.

Strawberry Swizzle

3 large strawberries

8 mint leaves

75ml pink grapefruit juice

75ml cold Earl Grey tea

15ml lime juice

10ml sugar syrup/to taste

Garnish

mint sprig, strawberry

Method

Chop the strawberries and crush with the mint into the base of a highball glass. Add the cold Earl Grey tea, fruit juices and sugar in a shaker. Shake and strain into the glass with crushed strawberries and mint. Use a bar spoon to swizzle with crushed or cubed ice. Serve with a strawberry and mint sprig.

Add soda or ginger beer for a refreshing spritz.

 

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