KUALA LUMPUR, July 2 - It’s durian season again. Those delectable morsels - firm, slippery flesh and sweet, winey taste. And that aroma, that fragrant calling card – the perfume of deities, surely!
So we gorge ourselves and grin like silly monkeys afterwards. Job well done, we tell ourselves, observing the durian shells that have piled up. We feel fantastic.
Till the morning after (or even a few hours later), when we feel warm and achy. The post durian binge heatiness is here again. You can’t avoid it, this durian "hangover”... or can you?
Some advise pairing every durian feast with a sequel of mangosteen mastication. That’s just more calories, really. Instead, why not beat the heat with this cooling three treasures tea?
First, choose your favourite Chinese tea, from oolong to pu’er, for the base. The lighter the better, as we want the flavours of the three treasures to shine. (We can achieve this via cold brewing the tea, but more on this later.)
Oranges, the first "treasure”, add some zest to this summer day beverage. Now, given this tea resembles a traditional Chinese herbal tea in some ways, it bears mentioning that dried tangerine peel or chan pei have been used since ancient times in China to aid in digestion, reducing flatulence and alleviating other stomach-related issues.
Here, however, we are using fresh oranges so that we get a brighter flavour profile. It’s also an excellent source of vitamin C. What’s more, the zest of the orange adds a fresh note to the resultant brew at the end.
Red dates (hóngzǎo), the second "treasure”, have been used as an age-old remedy to elevate one’s energy levels while, in an interesting contrast, also reducing insomnia. It’s this ingredient, above all else, that marks it as a style of Chinese herbal tea.
Goji berries (góuqǐ), the third "treasure”, are packed with antioxidants such as zeaxanthin that aids in protecting our eyes. If you spend lots of time in front of a screen - be it a computer, tablet or a smartphone - then you’ll certainly need all the help you can get.
Put it all together and you’ll have the perfect durian "hangover” cure - no more heaty morning after. Sweet and citrusy, this is a cool cup of tea!
THREE TREASURES TEA
The best goji berries have a clean, vibrant hue, rather than being discoloured. The same goes for the red dates and, of course, you’d want the freshest and sweetest oranges at the grocer or in the market.
Then there is the base, the tea. Why cold brewed tea, you ask? Well, besides having it ready ahead of time, cold brewing ensures a slower extraction of the tea’s flavours so you get a more balanced tea that is neither too bitter nor too weak.
Furthermore, studies have shown that cold brewed tea retains more antioxidants than the hot brewing method but only half of the caffeine so that you won’t get too jittery after this three treasures tea – only relaxed yet refreshed, as you should be.
8-10 tablespoons loose tea leaves
2 litres water
3 oranges, cut into chunks; some zest reserved
8 dried red dates
50g dried goji berries
To make the overnight cold brewed tea, add the loose tea leaves and water to a large container. Cover firmly with the lid and keep in the fridge overnight.
The next day, when you’re ready to use it, strain the overnight cold brewed tea into a large pot.
Using a microplane or very fine grater, zest one of the oranges. Set aside, reserving for use later. Next, slice all the oranges into chunks. Don’t worry about removing the seeds or the pith; the more fastidious among us can do so if they are worried about any residual bitterness.
Add the orange chunks, red dates and goji berries to the pot of overnight cold brewed tea. Cover and bring to a boil. Once it comes to a boil, lower the heat and allow to simmer for another 15 minutes before removing from the stove.
At this point, you may strain the tea into a teapot or leave the ingredients (orange chunks, red dates and goji berries) inside the teapot for greater visual impact.
Add the desired amount of honey to your tea, say a teaspoon at a time. Stir well so the honey dissolves completely. Taste and adjust accordingly, adding more honey if necessary.
Lastly, add the reserved orange zest to the tea, either to the teapot or the individual teacups to refresh the citrus notes. Serve immediately while hot.
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