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.
posted by chika at: 7/29/2005 03:08:00 AM