A fruit tea a day

Rihan Najib | Updated on December 24, 2019

Cuppa for the soul: Cuppa for the soul Fruit tea is technically an infusion since it contains no tea leaves ISTOCK.COM   -  Getty Images/iStockphoto

Fruit teas are caffeine-free, rich in antioxidants, low on calories and versatile

Travelling around in Himachal Pradesh’s Theog is not for the faint of heart. Perilous hairpin curves, patchy roads and zealous manoeuvres of local drivers conspire to make true believers out of even the resolutely godless. After having my teeth rattle around in my skull for the better part of the morning, I wearily arrive at the hotel, and am served a warm cup of something so instantly rejuvenating that I wonder if it isn’t too early for a tipple. “Our signature apple tea,” I am told by the hotel manager. I ask for another cup of the magic.

Sourced from local Himachali apples, the ‘tea’ is made by mulling their juice with cinnamon, cloves and star anise. The colour of cloudy honey, the brew contains no added sugar and is sweetened by the natural sugars in the apple juice. I was so enticed by the apple tea that I insisted on a cup or two after meals for the duration of my stay. Back home, I looked up recipes I could recreate and found a fascinating array of fruit teas, including some decidedly weird ones — beetroot tea, anyone?

Fruit teas are technically called infusions and not teas, since they do not contain the tea leaf. Typically, dried fruit and herbs are used for the infusion, but fresh fruit can also be used. These teas are caffeine-free, rich in antioxidants, low on calories and versatile — they can be had warm or cold, or added to drinks and mixers. It’s a perfect way to warm up winter evenings.

Not surprisingly, one can look to the East for a rich collection of fruit teas. Yuja-cha, for instance, is a traditional Korean tea for which hot water is mixed with a marmalade made from the yuja fruit (a variety of citrus). Rich in vitamin C, the tea is a celebrated remedy for warding off winter chills and seasonal flu.

Koreans also brew tea from plums (Maesil-cha), goji berries (Gugija-cha), pomegranates (Seongnyu-cha) and even pumpkins (Hobak-cha). In most cases, the fruit is sun-dried, boiled and the syrup strained through a cloth. Food blogs on the subject touch upon the ceremony around the tea — the careful selection of fruit for drying, the scent of the syrup bubbling in the pot and the rich colour of the tea in the cup.

For the rest of us perennially short on patience and time, the most we’re able to do is squeeze a lemon into a cup of hot water and call it a day. But in the unlikely event that you have a spare afternoon as well as some persimmons lying around, a wonderful tea can be brewed with persimmon slices, ginger, cinnamon and, for that added health kick, turmeric and pepper. Simmer all the ingredients in water for about a half hour, strain and serve.

But if you’re in a mood for culinary adventures, try brewing a cuppa with pineapple peels. Pineapple peels have all the goodness of the fruit, so why throw them away? Simply pop the peels into a saucepan with water, add ginger and cinnamon, and let it simmer. You could try adding apple peels to blend flavours.

Beetroot is technically a vegetable, not a fruit, but it could still make for a great tea. As jarring as it may sound, beetroot tea is a great addition to your morning routine since it is a nutritional powerhouse. Beetroot slices are steeped in hot water with lemon, ginger or mint for a brew with a stunning colour and a great shot of antioxidants.

So next time you’re picking out fruits, ask yourself (perhaps silently because others might think you’re weird) — should I eat it, or drink it?

Rihan Najib

Published on December 24, 2019

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