I like tea.
People, in general, seem to like tea (judging by all the specialty tea shops popping up around town lately). And every country, it seems, likes their tea a different way.
In England, one lump or two?
In India? Chai, please
In Burma? Sweetened condensed milk only
In Turkey? Apple tea.
In Turkey, apple tea is a big thing (many consider it Turkey’s national drink). It is really a drink to be enjoyed wherever, whenever. And I mean, wherever– shop merchants will actually bring you a cup while you’re standing outside their shop having a chat! It’s strange, but a shopkeeper touting a tray of this caramel colored beverage in dainty, stem-less, tulip-shaped glass is not uncommon, at least in my limited travels in Istanbul.
Tomato and Lettuce, imbibing
Besides being a tasty and welcome addition to any table, apple tea also supposedly has numerous health benefits that also account for its popularity, lowering the risk of cardio-vascular diseases by eliminating the formation of arterial plaques, improving lung function and reducing cancer risk. I can get behind all of these things.
While I’m partial to the English variety, I brewed up some apple tea for the fridge since summer is upon us and I liked the idea of this fruity drink on ice, though it’s traditionally served hot.
In my search for the “best” recipe, I came across some that seemed like nothing more than boiled apples (isn’t that called apple juice?), some that used an apple powder, some that used fresh apples and some that used apple juice from concentrate. I combined a few, and my recipe uses both my favorite British Breakfast blend tea bags and dried apples along with some mulling spices and slightly sweetened with honey to create a refreshing summer sip.
The apples will absorb some of the water, so you’ll end up with about 4 cups of brewed tea rather than the full 6. This surprised me until I realized it was dumb of me not to assume that would happen.
You’ll have some wonderfully flavored apples leftover once everything is strained. I plan to put mine in some oats, but the possibilities for these “leftovers” are endless. Heated with ice cream? Hmm. That sounds better than oatmeal.
Makes about 4 cups of tea
6 cups water
4 black tea bags (ladies’ choice)
8 ounces dried apple slices
5 whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
2 TB honey (optional)*
*The apple slices, I think, make this sufficiently sweet without extra honey. However, you could add it slowly until it reaches desired sweetness.
1. Place all ingredients into a deep saucepan. Cover and bring to a gentle simmer. Let it work for 20 minutes.
2. Strain. Drink. Hot or cold. Maybe throw in a spirit. I’m sure the Turks would approve.
And, since it’s #TBT, a pic of the BLT trio. Istanbul, 2009.