Earl Grey Infused Cranberry Sauce

Earl Grey Infused Cranberry Sauce

Add some intrigue with an Earl Grey infused cranberry sauce this Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, so it is time to start planning what is considered one of most important meals in America. For tea lovers, it is a chance to use our favorite beverage in several dishes to highlight how it adds depth and flavor you will not find with other ingredients. For me, freshly made cranberry sauce is a requirement. It probably has more to do with the fact that it is the key ingredient in my favorite coffee cake from childhood than anything else, but it also brightens up the presentation of the other food, like turkey. So let’s jump right into making one of the easiest side dishes in the Thanksgiving meal.

Earl Grey Infused Cranberry Sauce: Ingredients

1 12oz package of fresh cranberries (look in the produce section)
1 cup of water
4 grams (Rounded Tablespoon) of Earl Grey Tea
1 cup of sugar
1 tsp of fresh orange zest (optional)

Earl Grey Infused Cranberry Sauce: Equipment

Colander
Glass measuring cup for at least 2 cups
Container to refrigerate the cranberry sauce in
1 quart pot and lid
Strainer for tea
Oven mitts
Long handled spoon for stirring
Spatula
Timer
Micro-planer to zest the orange

Earl Grey Infused Cranberry Sauce: Steps

Cooking this recipe only takes about 15 minutes and requires you to be focused on the sauce in the pot, so you will notice a lot of these steps are focused on preparing to cook. Skip them at your own risk.

  1. Empty the package of cranberries into the colander and rinse under water. Now is your one chance to sort through them, remove any stems that may still be there, and remove any bad cranberries. Bad cranberries are cranberries that are soft and wrinkled or have soft spots on them. You do not want these in your sauce as they will ruin the flavor and can make you sick.
  2. Once you have sorted your cranberries, pour them in the pot and add sugar and put the pot on the stove. DO NOT turn on the burner yet.
  3. Start your kettle for the water for tea. While the kettle is heating up you can put your tea in the glass measuring cup and get out the container, long handled spoon, spatula, timer and oven mitts and put them by the stove where you can get to them quickly.
  4. Add the boiling water to the tea and steep for 5 minutes. Remember you only need 1 cup of water.
  5. When the 5 minutes are up, pour the water through the strainer straight into the pot with the cranberries and water. Turn on the burner now to high and use your long handled spoon to stir in any sugar that did not get into the tea.
  6. Set your timer to 10 minutes and put on your oven mitts to protect your arms from splash back from the popping cranberries. Once you hear your first cranberry pop, start the timer and start stirring. The goal is to allow the sauce to come up to a rolling boil while you are stirring. Once you have that boil, drop the heat down to medium and keep stirring. You are only stirring for 10 minutes and it does not need to be a vigorous stir. Just keep the cranberries and liquid moving. If you want more of jelly consistency to your sauce, squash the popped cranberries with back of your spoon against the side of the pan as you stir. If you like whole cranberry sauce, just stir.
  7. When the timer is up, turn off the burner and take the pan off the heat. This is when,if you want, you will add the orange zest by running the micro-planer lightly over the outside of the orange. The goal is to get as much of the orange skin without the white pith underneath. You are looking for a tsp, which is find is about 3-4 passes over the orange based on its size. I just zest over the sauce and stir.
  8. Pour the sauce into your storage container and leave the lid off to allow the sauce to come down to room temperature. Once at room temperature, put the lid on and put it into the refrigerator. If you do not have time for this, you can put on the lid and put it into the refrigerator, just realize that condensation will form on the inside of the container which may cause your sauce to be more runny than you want.

When the sauce cools down (it will take a few hours), have a taste. The bergamot oil will be present, but not overwhelming. It makes for a nice change to traditional dish.

Want to go all out this Thanksgiving with tea infusions? Check out Irish Soda Bread, Matcha Salad Dressing, and Matcha Green Tea Ice Cream for dessert!

 

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Earl Grey Tea Infused Vodka Cocktails

Adding tea to your cocktails is really easy to do and makes for a unique beverage to serve at your next get together. It seems counter intuitive to blend together tea, a beverage associated with health and mental clarity, with alcohol, which is associated with the exact opposite characteristics. However,opposites can and do blend well together. Keep in mind, the British have been putting tea in their alcoholic punches dating back to the 1700’s.

Loose Leaf Earl Grey Tea Infused Vodka

Earl Grey Tea Infused Vodka

History of Tea and Alcohol

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a little bit of the history around tea and alcohol. In China, the two rarely mixed. While the Chinese have been making alcohol, starting with beer from millet for over 9,000 years, it was consumed differently than tea. Beer was produced because straight water could not be trusted for consumption. Tea was consumed as part of a religious and health ritual, it was not really seen as a replacement for water. That may be because it came on the scene much later than beer.

Interestingly tea came onto the wider cultural scene just as alcohol consumption in China was thought to be at its highest. The consumption of tea was thought to be the highest level of sophistication. In order to gain the favor of the emperor, much of the upper class abandoned alcohol for tea. The Tang dynasty (790-835 CE) saw the rise of the tea culture in upper society, replacing the beers,wines and grain alcohols that had been consumed previously. Alcohol became so frowned upon that wine making disappeared from the upper parts of Chinese society until it was reintroduced by the Portuguese and British in the early 1800’s. Tea quickly got added to alcohol by sailors on the trading vessels. Beer would go bad during the trip, and once it did, it was turned into punch with other spices and tea added to hide the off flavor of the beer. As an American, who takes my clean water for granted, it is hard to imagine that beer was the primary drink for sailors, but without clean water, beer was the safest beverage to consume.

Earl Grey Tea Cocktail Recipes

Flavor infused vodkas have become popular over the past couple of years and it is super easy to infuse your favorite vodka with tea. The first rule to remember, if you won’t drink the tea don’t put it in the vodka.

Earl Grey Vodka

1 tablespoon loose leaf Earl Grey tea

8oz vodka

Combine both ingredients together in a container and allow to sit for 8 hours before tasting to ensure you have the flavor you want. If you chose to use a tea bag instead, cut down the time to 2-3 hours,otherwise you end up with bitter vodka. Feel free to substitute other black teas for the Earl Grey. If they are flavored or blended with other spices, you may want to check at the 4-6 hour mark to see if you have the flavor you desire.

So now that we have a nice base for the cocktails, it is time for a few drink recipes.

Earl Grey Vodka Martinis: A delicious experiment.

Finished Earl Grey Vodka Martinis

Earl Grey Martini (Serves 2)

4 oz of Earl Grey Iced Tea

2 oz of Earl Grey tea infused vodka

1 tsp of Agave Nectar (this can be substituted for 1 tsp of Simple Syrup)

Mix the three ingredients together and then serve in a martini glass. Garnish with a slice of orange or orange peel, if you wish.

 

Earl Grey Tonic (Serves 2)

4 oz of Earl Grey Iced Tea

4 oz of Earl Grey tea infused vodka

3 oz Tonic Water

Pour the vodka into a highball glass over ice cubes. Then pour in the iced tea,followed by the tonic water. Stir and serve. If you want something extra special, make ice cubes using earl grey ice tea.

Note:  If you are fine with a little less Earl Grey flavor, you can replace the iced tea with the tonic water.

 

There are many more recipes you could make with your Earl Grey tea infused vodka. So feel free to play and share your favorite recipes with us.

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What is Earl Grey Tea Really?

Earl Grey gets its flavor from the bergamot fruit.

Bergamot Tree with Fruit

Essential oil of bergamot and a good quality Chinese black tea is all that is in a traditional cup of Earl of Grey (aka Earl Grey Tea). So why do so many Earl Grey’s taste so different and how do you get a really good cup of Earl Grey?  In short, focus on the bergamot.

Earl Grey – The Fruit of the Bergamot Tree

Bergamot is a citrus fruit about the size of an orange that is not eaten by humans, but grown for the oil produced in the rind of the fruit. If you were to try it, it is supposedly less sour than a lemon but more sour than a grapefruit. Prior to becoming the key ingredient in the world’s most famous flavored tea, it was the base to perfumes. Historical records show that bergamot appeared in the first perfumes in the 1700’s made by Farina (LaCapra, 2013). Earl Grey tea itself only appeared on the scene in the mid-1800’s.

Earl Grey comes from Reggio Calabria, located in the tip of the boot of Italy.

Reggio Calabria, Growing Region for Bergamot

The bergamot tree has been found in varying regions around the world, but only seems to produce enough oil to be commercially viable in the province of Calabria Reggio in southern Italy. Eighty percent of the essential oil of bergamot produced annually comes from this small region in the tip of Italy’s boot. Much like tea, the intensity, flavor and smell of bergamot oil is affected by its growing location with many growers claiming the limestone and other sediments in the Reggio soil are responsible for a less bitter taste to this bergamot (Arrigo, 2011).

To extract the oil, the fruit is picked and then run through a machine that scrapes the rind off the fruit while in a cold water bath. The water and rind mixture then flows into a centrifuge that then separates the oil from the rest of the mixture. Despite an annual production capacity of approximately one hundred tons, there are over three thousand tons of bergamot oil claimed to be in products or sold on its own in the global marketplace.

Various Flavors of Earl Grey Tea

The essential oil is often adulterated with lesser quality oils, like bitter orange, to stretch the product further. Thanks to modern science, synthetic or artificial bergamot oil is also easily produced. Without a gas chromatograph to prove the differences in properties, it is virtually impossible for the end user to identify natural vs artificial bergamot unless tasting different samples side-by-side. To protect the reputation of its bergamot crop, the Italian government has placed regulations and testing requirements on bergamot to ensure that what is going to marketplace has not been adulterated (Arrigo, 2011).

So when one Earl Grey doesn’t taste like another, don’t be surprised as it is highly likely the bergamot being used is either artificial or thinned with other oils given that demand for the oil far out-strips supply. The other item to look at is the tea base. It is believed that the original base to Earl Grey may have been Keemun given the types of Chinese blacks brought into England at the time. However, many of the teas in the tea bags here in the US are coming out of India, Kenya and Argentina. So that Earl Grey in the grocery store is probably not true to the origins of the tea in the first place. Like tea, bergamot oil tends to change with exposure to light and air. So it is best to buy smaller quantities and drink regularly so the flavor does not fade.

There are more variations to Earl Grey appearing on the marketplace. While it is tempting to discount them, you may find you like many of the blends that are becoming available, like lavender and rose petal. The have added variety to my daily cup of tea. What is your favorite Earl Grey?

Works Cited

Arrigo, A. (2011). BERGAMOT – A RESILIENT CITRUS . IFEAT International Conference (pp. 93-102). Barcelona: IFEAT.

LaCapra, W. (2013, November 11). Farina House – Eau De Cologne. Retrieved from Fragrence Muesum – Farina House: www.farina.org

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Tea Infused Yogurt

I have been making my own yogurt for over a year now, and tea infused yogurt would combine two of my favorite foods..  In trying to find yogurt that is not loaded with sugar or artificial sweetener, I did what many people do these days and googled how to make yogurt at home.  I was pleased to discover how few ingredients it required and, since I already had a dehydrator big enough to hold 8 oz glass jars, I was pretty much ready to go if I could just find yogurt starter at a grocery store.

Yogurt starter is basically the bacteria necessary to make yogurt, in packets very similar to the yeast used to make bread. Some recipes suggested that you could use yogurt from the grocery store instead of the yogurt starter however, as I was trying not to eat the yogurt in the grocery store, I decided to pass on this option. Finding the yogurt starter was simple here in the suburbs of Washington, DC where I found yogurt starter in the baking aisle next to tapioca and various extracts.

So why tea flavored yogurt?  Over the year as I have gotten more comfortable with scalding milk, getting it up to 180 degrees Fahrenheit without boiling, I have gotten braver in adding alternatives to the milk to try to flavor the yogurt.  I decided while reading a recipe for tea flavored ice cream that I should be able to flavor yogurt with tea was amazed to find that it worked!

Now, before I show you the recipe I should say I do not add sugar to my yogurt.  I rely on the lactose in the milk to sweeten the yogurt, which makes for a tarter yogurt than most Americans are used to. I really like it, but my son absolutely dislikes it and David doesn’t eat yogurt, so I’m subjected to my own creations.  I have added a note at the end, if you want sweetener, on what and how much to add.

While I haven’t done this recipe with herbals or green teas, I imagine it could work with them also.  Just be prepared for your yogurt to take on some unconventional colors – like green or pink.  This recipe calls for your favorite black tea, which in my case is Earl Grey.  Just be aware of how it tastes in the cup because that taste will amplify in the yogurt, especially if it is citrus in flavor.

Getting started, you need a few pieces of equipment, a good liquid thermometer, dehydrator and fine mesh sieve.  You can usually find a thermometer in the kitchen equipment section of your grocery store next to the can openers.  If you have butter fingers like I do, spend the extra money for the waterproof one so when you drop it in the milk it will survive (learned this one the hard way).  As for the dehydrator, there are many options out there, so find one you like that can run at 115 degrees Fahrenheit and is deep enough to hold glass jars.  Ball makes 4 and 8 oz jars, so measure before you buy.  I use 8 oz since I already had them in the house from making jelly and my dehydrator was big enough to hold them if I removed the racks.  As for the sieve, the finer the mesh you can find the better, as the dust from the tea leaves will get through if the holes are too big.  You might like it or you might find it a bit gritty in your yogurt (it looks almost like vanilla bean seeds at the bottom of the yogurt cup when it is done cooking).  I resorted to a kitchen supply store to find one that was fine enough and I still get some tea dust remaining in the yogurt.

Milk and Tea in a Sauce Pan

Whole Milk and Earl Grey Tea

Recipe

  • 4 cups Whole Milk*
  • 2 tbs Favorite Black Tea (mine is Earl Grey)
  • 1 packet Yogourmet yogurt starter
Scalded Milk and Tea in a Sauce Pan

Scalded Whole Milk and Earl Grey Tea

Put the 4 cups of milk in a sauce pan with the tea leaves, you will need to stir to get the leaves incorporated.  Bring the milk up to 180 degrees Fahrenheit without letting it boil.  Expect it to turn caramel color as the tea brews in the milk.  As soon as it hits 180 degrees take the pan off the burner and allow the milk to cool back down to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. If you are adventurous you could strain out the tea as soon as you pull the pan off the burner.  I prefer to wait as I have no need to get burned by hot liquid if it happens to splash while pouring it through the strainer.

Straining Off Tea

Straining Off Earl Grey Tea

Pour the milk through the strainer into a vessel that makes it easy to pour the milk into the jars (I have a 4 cup Pyrex measuring cup with a spout that makes this super easy).

Put the yogurt starter into a small bowl that you can whisk in and ladle in a couple of scoops of the milk once it hits 115 degrees (I have found this happens almost immediately after pouring the milk through the sieve).  Whisk until the starter has dissolved then add back into the rest of the mill and stir.

Distribute the milk between your glass jars and then put those jars for a minimum of 4 hours in your dehydrator at 115 degrees Fahrenheit.  Check if thick enough by turning the jars upside down at the 4 hour mark.  I have had it take as long as 6 hours in a few cases. Transfer the jars to the refrigerator and start to enjoy the yogurt the next morning.  Be prepared for losing about ½ cup of the milk to being absorbed by the tea leaves.

Just a word of caution about Earl Grey and other citrus flavored teas – Citrus and milk creates buttermilk, which is very tangy.  Even if the citrus is nothing more than an extract, my experience has been that the yogurt is rather tangy.  So I will admit, sometimes sugar is necessary to help tone this down.  I add mine after the fact by pouring a little agave nectar (no more than a teaspoon per serving) over the top before eating, but that is only after I have tasted the yogurt first.

For those who really need sugar in your yogurt – go with ¼ to 1/3 cup of a liquid form of sugar – like agave nectar, honey or maple syrup.  While these 3 may turn your white milk slightly cream colored, you do not have to battle trying to dissolve granulated sugar in your milk while trying to make sure your milk does not boil.

*Forget 2% or skim milk as they make runny yogurt that requires corn starch to thicken – too much work in my book

I hope you enjoy this recipe.  What do you like to cook with tea?

Hillary at Dominion Tea

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