Autumnal Steeps

Feature

Steaming steeps offer more than ornamental autumn flavors to complement the crisp, chilled fall air. Consider them layers of comfort that call us in from the cold. The allure and sentiment of a fireside glow or a favorite sweater hanging within reach can all be captured in a cup of tea. In the four recipes collected here, you’ll discover layered tea infusions that warm you to the core. And when you’re tucked in a cozy room and craving something chilled, there’s a cool sip that still satisfies the need for something rich. Best of all, the recipe can be as simple as infusing tea into milk and heating it with cocoa, or an overnight soak that’s well worth the wait. Elements of nostalgia and sophistication combine in the Earl Grey hot cocoa, while the horchaita is a cultural mash-up that’s anything but familiar. Suddenly a simple steep feels so much more special.

Jasmine-Pistachio Matcha Latte
Makes 4 ½ cups

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When you’re seeking a sip that matches the chilled air, you’ll want to brew and blend the jasmine-pistachio matcha latte. To balance the cool temperature of the tea infusion, the richness of the ground pistachios are truly satisfying. Lightened by floral jasmine green tea paired with a splash of rosewater, you’ll be recalling green garden pastures even when all of the trees are bare. Creamy milk anchors everything, including the bright, bold Japanese matcha green tea powder. Note that the pleasing bitterness of matcha, similar to that of a dark chocolate, is quieted ever so slightly by the honey. When blended to reveal a slightly thick, smoothie-like texture, this green, tea-infused treat feels like a steep and snack all in one.

• 1 cup water
• 1 tablespoon & 2 teaspoons jasmine green tea
• 1¾ cups pistachios, raw and unsalted
• 2 cups whole milk
• 4 teaspoons matcha green tea powder
• 2 tablespoons honey
• Cheesecloth
• Optional: pinch of sea salt

Bring one cup of water to a boil and let cool to 175 degrees. Steep jasmine tea for four minutes. Strain leaves and add tea to an airtight jar filled with 1¾ cups pistachios. Seal airtight and refrigerate overnight. Add pistachios, jasmine green tea, honey, milk, and matcha to a blender and blend until liquefied. (Note: If using a strong blender, you may be able to liquefy completely. If you are still left with pistachio solids, strain entire mixture through cheesecloth for smooth consistency). Chill in the fridge before serving. For a twist, serve with a small pinch of sea salt.

Earl Grey Hot Cocoa with Orange Blossom Earl Grey Whipped Cream
Makes two cups

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Hot cocoa sends us to familiar memories of childhood until it’s given an indulgent tea twist. Bright bergamot mixes with decadent chocolate to create a subtle licorice taste with savory notes from robust black tea. Suddenly that classic treat feels so grown up. Swap marshmallows for a whipped cream infused with Earl Grey, rich honey, and orange blossom water for a touch of romance in the cup. And, of course, this is no time to skimp. Opt for a creamy, whole milk.

Whipped Cream
• ½ cup heavy cream
• 2 teaspoons orange blossom water
• 2 teaspoons honey
• 2 teaspoons Earl Grey tea

Add cream and orange blossom water to small pot over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Stir in honey until dissolved, then stir in the Earl Grey. Take off the burner and steep for fifteen minutes. Strain the leaves, pour into airtight container and let cool in the fridge for an hour. When ready to serve the Earl Grey hot cocoa, whisk the mixture by hand or with an electric whisk until light and airy. The cream can also be served from a chargeable dispenser.

Earl Grey Hot Cocoa
• 2 cups whole milk
• 4 teaspoons Earl Grey tea
• 2-3 ounces chocolate syrup, or sweetened cocoa powder

Heat two cups of milk to a simmer over medium heat. Stir in the Earl Grey, take off the heat and let steep for ten minutes. Strain the leaves. Stir in the cocoa (amount according to directions of your particular mix) or chocolate syrup, testing desired sweetness, and top with orange blossom Earl Grey whipped cream. Optional: Top whipped cream with chocolate shavings.

Note: To make a batch of this tea infusion ahead of time, infuse the warm milk with tea, strain, mix in the chocolate and refrigerate in an airtight container. Heat tea-infused hot cocoa via steamwand.

Spiced Hojicha Green Tea
Makes two cups

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Sweet but with ginger heat, this spiced hojicha green tea infusion is far from shy. Consider this a cold cure that you reach for when you just can’t seem to fight the chill. Tart lemon juice brightens the depth of the smoky hojicha, crafted with roasted Japanese bancha green tea leaves. Warming ginger doesn’t fade with a flash of heat, but instead lingers on your palate and trickles all the way to the back of your throat. Honey is the sweet thread that ties the bold, smoky steep together. For the ultimate get-well sip, a pinch of earthy turmeric will add an orange hue while mixing in an anti-inflammatory dose. Best of all, since hojicha is quite low in caffeine it can be enjoyed well into the evening. Be sure to serve the hojicha infusion while it’s piping hot, when the honey flavor seems perfectly rich, as opposed to a thin, syrupy sweetness when even slightly chilled.

• 3 cups water
• 5 tablespoons Hojicha green tea
• 1/3 cup fresh ginger, sliced
• 1 tablespoon lemon juice
• 3 tablespoons honey

Bring three cups of water to a boil, cool to 185 degrees and steep the tea for four minutes. Strain the leaves. Heat tea in a medium pot over medium-high heat until boiling. Lower to a simmer and add ginger. Simmer for fifteen minutes. Strain the ginger and stir in the lemon juice and honey until dissolved. Serve hot.

Note: Make this tea infusion ahead of time. Infuse the hojicha with ginger, lemon, and honey, refrigerate in an airtight container, and heat to serve.

Horchaita
Makes three cups

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A traditional Mexican iced sweetened rice drink, horchata is here mixed with the warming spices and black tea of traditional Indian masala chai tea to create the sweet, layered horchaita. Just think of it as the new mash-up for the chilled season. Raw rice is ground into a coarse crumb and then steeped overnight with a Mexican cinnamon stick and masala chai. Blended until pure, the spiced rice tea is stirred into warm rice milk with sugar. Served hot, this sweet tea infusion is thick and calls for a spoon, although it can be easily sipped. While creamy and rich in texture, it carries a lightness in flavor from the white rice gently spiced with cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger. While the recipe calls for whole Mexican cinnamon bark, you can easily substitute cinnamon sticks found in grocery stores. Keep in mind that Mexican cinnamon sticks are softer in texture and offer a more subdued spice note that leans more towards vanilla with a floral hint that’s mildly sweet. With the horchaita, the go-to masala chai latte found on every menu is given a non-dairy twist that captures the flavor of delicate rice pudding with a lighter-than-air texture.

• 1/3 cup long grain white rice
• 1½ cups water
• 2 tablespoons masala chai tea
• One 2-inch piece Mexican cinnamon stick (or substitute regular cinnamon stick)
• 1/4 cup sugar
• 1½ cups rice milk
• Ground cinnamon, for serving

Bring water to a boil and steep chai for five minutes. Strain leaves and cool tea until warm. While cooling, grind the rice in a blender so it is in fine pieces (think coarse cornmeal). Pour warm tea over the rice in the blender and add the cinnamon stick. Cover and refrigerate for at least eight hours, but preferably overnight.

Remove the cinnamon stick, then puree the rice and tea until it’s completely smooth. For a truly smooth texture, strain the mixture through cheesecloth, extracting as much liquid as possible (note: if working with high-power blender the cheesecloth may not be needed). Pour the rice and tea mixture into a small pot on the stove and warm over medium heat until hot. Stir in the milk and sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to a simmer and serve immediately with a sprinkle of cinnamon and a spoon.

Note: Infuse the rice with tea/cinnamon stick and blend with rice milk and sugar ahead of time, then refrigerate in an airtight container. Heat until very hot via stove or hot plate. Be sure to stir well.

—Story and photos by Alexis Siemons, tea writer and consultant. Alexis blogs about her steeped adventures at teaspoonsandpetals.com.