July 29, 2005

ice-cold teas for dessert

We had a few relatively cool days to start off the week, then a big typhoon hit the islands, which subsequently brought the heat back. It's been hot, hot, hot over here - can't think, can't cook, can't work (I did end up doing all of these though).

I drink tea a lot every day, hot ones even on lousy steamy-hot days, because my body just never seems to be ready for ice-cold drinks. So instead of making iced tea, I fixed some iced tea-like cold dessert the other day - although here I have to admit it was more than a couple of months ago -, namely jasmine tea gelatin.

Just like coffee gelatin, tea gelatin desserts do not seem to be popular at all in the US, but they're pretty common in Japan, both in the stores and at home. Most of them seem to be made with black tea though - I don't see jasmine tea one very often, if none. I like jasmine tea's refreshing scent a lot, which I adore in the form of gelatin dessert, too.

This time I used lemon-ginger jasmine tea that I had bought from MUJI (they sell a huge line of food products in Japan). The tea had dried lemon peel and ginger pieces and looked pretty, but it actually didn't taste so much of either lemon or ginger. So I made lemon-ginger syrup to boost lemonness and gingerness in the tea, which worked so well I wished I had made more.

To make jasmine tea gelatin, I just dissolved prepared unflavored gelatin in plain, unsweetened jasmine tea and chilled it in a container. In the meantime I heated some sugar, juice of lemon and a squeeze of grated fresh ginger together to make lemon-ginger syrup. Then I scraped out the gelatin and served it in small, tall glasses with a spoonful of syrup. Done.

It was a simple but refreshing, soothing glass of tea on a hot early summer day. It was good just with the syrup, but I had one of my glasses (they were tiny!) with some milk. It might sound strange to put milk in jasmine tea because we usually don't do it (at least I don't), but it somehow works. I would have used sweetened condensed milk rather than regular milk if I had not had the syrup, which can also be yummy.

Speaking of jasmine tea with milk, I made another jasmine tea dessert on another occasion. This time it was jasmine tea bavarois, which inevitably consists of milk.

Bavarois is a kind of dessert like mousse, but made typically with custard in addition to cream, therefore turns out thick and rich. It has been one of my favorite desserts to make since I was a small kid, partly because I didn't have to use an oven, and more obviously because it tastes good.

And this time I used this fruit-of-the-time, called biwa in Japanese and "loquat" in English, according to my dictionary. They taste a bit like persimmons, or maybe apricots - I wonder if they are available in the States. I don't think I have ever seen them sold in Hawaii while I lived there, although I did see them during my recent stay in Italy.

Anyways, in Japan they are only available in a relatively short period of time in the early summer and they are most often eaten straight and rarely made into a processed food (a notable exception is biwa gelatin, which is a whole loquat covered with sweet gelatin - like this). So I wanted to see how it would turn out when paired with something else, and jasmine tea seemed to me to fit in.

The bavarois turned out good. The addition of cream and custard turned the refreshing jasmine tea into a very mild and mellow, melt-in-your-mouth sort of light treat. Biwa went well with the bavarois, too, even though I would not claim this the "best" combination - I still thought there should be something better to go with biwa. They aren't around anymore, so I will have to wait till next year to come up with something.

By the way, it is three in the morning, already getting hot, and I have to say it is extremely painful to do a post about food that is long gone; I should stop writing about the nonexistent desserts and get myself to the kitchen and make some gelatin for later... this is going to be another hot day.


Anonymous said...

Hi Chika, those both look delicious and so refreshing! I've never had loquats before but I'll look for them next time I visit Toronto's tropical fruit market. Btw, your entry would be perfect for this Sunday's Is My Blog Burning? event where our theme is tea. Let me know if you'd like me to add you to the round-up! 

Posted by Clement

Anonymous said...

Wow. That's a fantastic first shot. Those air bubbles look magnificent.

I agree with Clement. You've timed this post brilliantly for IMBB. I can't wait to try that lemon, ginger syrup.  

Posted by AugustusGloop

Anonymous said...

hi chika, they looked lovely and refreshing. by the way, your entry qualifies for this month's Is My Blog Burning!!! read this

do submit your wonderful entry! 

Posted by babe_kl

Anonymous said...

This looks fabulous! 

Posted by clare eats

Anonymous said...

Chika, that jasmine tea gelatin looks absolutely incredible. just reading about it makes me feel refreshed, so i can't wait to taste it (i plan on making it very soon)!! usually when i make a ginger & lemon syrup, i use the zest of the lemon and heat that together without the juice, and i do not add lemon juice until after the syrup is cooled (i like the flavour of unheated lemon juice in this syrup). do you think this would be appropriate for the jasmine tea gelatin?
reading your blog and seeing your photography is really a revelation to me -- like a breath of crisp mountain air! 

Posted by Pan

Anonymous said...

Chika, you always have the most beautiful pictures! :) I found loquats at the one of the farmers markets here (on O'ahu) as well as at the supermarkets, but this was about a month ago. 

Posted by Embla

Anonymous said...

This is the first time I visit your blog, and I absolutely LOVE IT! I can't wait to try everything!
Great work!!! 

Posted by Giselle

Anonymous said...

i wasn't familiar with gelatin tea desserts. they look lovely, though. and loquats are deliciousss. 

Posted by violet

Anonymous said...

Hi Chika,

This looks so refreshing. This actually looks like the same tea you sent me a while back. I think I'm going to try making this gelatin using it! Thanks for the tips.

BTW...I know it's not as hot here as it is there, so I can only imagine how unbearable it has been for you. 

Posted by Reid

Anonymous said...

hi chika, your have a breathtakingly beautiful blog - such wonderful posts and gorgeous pictures. loved everything you did with the tea, in particular the loquats...delicious! cheers,j 

Posted by J

Anonymous said...

very good, refreshing, congratulations 

Posted by haluk direskeneli

Anonymous said...

I've been checking in on your blog for awhile now, and I particularly love your photography. Would you mind telling me what equipment you use? My husband thinks the light in your kitchen must be perfect - I think the photographer has something to do with it as well! Anyway, lovely pictures, and I look forward to more. 

Posted by Jessica

Anonymous said...

Hello -- I was intrigued by the jasmine tea gelatin and can't wait to try it. Speaking of gelatin, there was an article on its popularity in Paris in this Sunday's New York Times: 

Posted by Adriana

Anonymous said...

Wow! What GORGEOUS pictures you take! Definitely makes me want to try these. =) 

Posted by venitha

Anonymous said...

Hi there

Thanks everyone for the compliments :)

Clement - thanks for the offer - I have managed to make something else as an entry for the event, late though.

Pan - I prefer the flavor of uncooked lemon, too :) I did cook the juice together with sugar and ginger juice because I didn't want to add water to my syrup. How about you - you make your syrup by heating only sugar and zest of lemon, without adding any liquid while cooking?

Reid - it was indeed the same tea that I had sent you. Too bad it didn't taste very much of lemon and ginger...

Jessica - thanks, I use a three-yr old ordinary compact degital camera that is only half-functioning. I do use PhotoShop though. Also, my kitchen isn't really light, and I do all my photo-shooting by the window with natural light.

Adriana - thanks for the link, I will take a look at it once I have registered with

Posted by chika

Anonymous said...

hello chika-san! i received two boxes of biwa  a few weeks' ago, and we assumed they were loquats of a sort, but not like the loquats i'd seen in california. we also assumed from the packaging that they were a seasonal item. in any case, they were delicious; i wish i had some left to try a biwa gelatin or your wonderful bavarois. 

Posted by santos.

Anonymous said...

It was just a year ago this month, you were tingling our senses with your nectarine recipes! I always enjoy reading your blog. Good work, Chica! 

Posted by Lynne

Anonymous said...

listen gal, you are Japanese and you take so much photos. This is so cliché... Nikon or Canon? :)

great blog anyways!

Posted by vox populi

Anonymous said...

I'm following your tea threads. I love how "deep" your blog goes; thanks for the links!
I found out about a month or so ago that there are loquat trees here in Sonoma County. A friend who has lived here all her life pointed one out to me. I have not tasted them, however, not being the type of person who is bold enough to poach off of a stranger's tree. But now I am very curious to taste them!

Anonymous said...

This tea post is great, but it's really pity that there's no need in teapots for cold tea.