Completely forgot to mention it in the last post, but I'm expecting! This has certainly flavored my world in unexpected and excited ways, no more so than in what I can and cannot eat and drink. Besides the obvious avoidance of all things alcoholic, I also have to curb my cravings for caffeine, cook my meat to a crisp, and the ever changing rules on what is and is not an acceptable fish leave me shuddering at the sight of seafood.
I love tea. I also hate segues.
Iced tea is one of my favorite beverages, and being on the banned list due to caffeine and sugar content, I had to find a way to enjoy my favorite drink without guilt or fetal distress. Enter the decaf tea bag.
Now, as a general rule, I loathe all things decaffeinated. I mean, why take all the joy out of something by overly processing it? Besides, I make my tea the old fashioned way, from loose tea, whenever possible. Decaf tea in a prepackaged tea bag? The sacrifices one makes for ones children...
Now sugar poses something of a problem. I can't abide the taste of artificial sweeteners, even Splenda gives me a case of the ickies. So instead of my usual two cups to a 4 quart pitcher (I love southern style sweet tea) I'm cutting back to 3/4 of a cup and using raw sugar instead of processed refined white. The taste is different, almost a thicker taste with the raw sugar, but it's starting to grow on me. But this concoction of eight tea bags plus 3/4 cups of sugar and lots of water isn't satisfying by a long shot. Enter the fruit.
I'm on a constant quest for more fruit these days; I can't seem to get enough of it, which my doctor says is fantastic, keep it up, only good things for the baby. My mother makes a delightfully sinful pot of orange tea in the summer time (tea + sugar + water + orange slices = heaven) and since citrus is in season, or at least all over my grocery store right now, I decided to take a cue from Mom's summertime treat and get creative with my tea.
Summery Citrus Tea:
8 tea bags (I'm using decaf for obvious reasons)
3/4 cup of raw sugar (or more/less to taste, but again, I have to be restrictive)
1/4 of an orange (I used a very pretty, perfectly ripe navel, but I imagine this would be good with other varieties)
1/4 of a large lemon
4 quarts of water (give or take the filling of the tea pitcher)
Steep tea bags in 1 quart of water over the stove. Don't let the tea actually boil, since the tea will then taste burnt, just bring to a simmer and then turn it off. Let it stand 15-30 minutes, depending on how strong you like your tea. I go for 30, because I like it dark, like my chocolate (again another post.)
In the mean time, wash the lemon and orange. I actually use dish soap on mine, because it's not going to penetrate the rind, but I AM keeping the rind on my slices, so I don't want any germs or pesticides that might be lingering on the fruit to gain access to my tea. Cut 1/4 of each fruit into thin slices, rind and all. Remove seeds as they appear, seeds are not good in a glass of tea.
Once tea has finished steeping, stir into sugar, add fruit, and remaining water in a pitcher. Refrigerate over night, then serve in a chilly glass for all day refreshment. Mmmmm, summer time.
Blueberry Lemon Tea:
8 tea bags
3/4 cup of raw sugar
1/4 of a lemon
1/2 cup blueberries
Steep tea as outlined above. Slice lemons in the same fashion. Now for the blueberries, I use a paring knife and cut them not quite in half. This saves me from choking on them later if they make their way into my glass (since they're easier to spot) but still allows a lot of blueberry flavor to seep into the tea. Mix the tea as outlined above, adding the sliced fruity goodness, and chill over night. This was incredible in the afternoon, sweet but not too sweet, and the fruit really made up for the lack of extra sugar I usually use.
I imagine both of these would be great with fresh herbs like lemon verbena or mint, but since it's January and I hate buying expensive mass production herbs from the grocery store, I'm going to have to wait until the summer to experiment with those. I briefly considered dried herbs, since I have those a plenty, but opted out since I really don't care for flakes of mint in my teeth while drinking, and I was too lazy to infuse via cheesecloth :)
Keep eating (and in this case, drinking!)