Friday, September 12, 2008
Lemongrass and Ginger Iced Tea
I'm sure you have heard of mint iced tea. But have you heard of Lemongrass and Ginger iced tea? It is a refreshing drink that is so easy to make. If you know how to brew a regular cup of tea, then you can easily make this as well. But first, let's talk about the health benefits.
The lemongrass is a bushy plant that is easy to grow. I should know. I do not exactly have a green thumb and yet, I was able to grow these pots in my balcony "garden." I have written about the health benefits of lemongrass before. Post here. Early studies have shown that lemongrass can fight cancer. Lemongrass contains "citral" the component that gives lemongrass its citrusy scent and aroma; and that this component causes the cancer cells in our body to die. The cancer cells die while the healthy cells live, thus helping the cancer patient to be healed. Thus, we should take advantage of this plant's healing properties even while we are still healthy. We usually use the leaves to make tea.
In the Philippines, Ginger is believed to cure cough and sore throat. Warm ginger tea (salabat) is usually prescribed to people with minor irritations of the throat, and from personal experience, it does work! Ginger may also decrease joint pain from arthritis and may lower chlolesterol, and is usually helpful for those who have heart disease. Gingers are also easy to grow. In fact, the very first plant that I grew successfully is the ginger. Why? Because they do not have to be watered often. You do not have to pay attention to the leaves and stems. And the roots (the ginger) just grow all by themselves! Of course, I think one major thing we have to do is to make sure that our soil is rich and organic so we can produce big knobs of roots. :)
For the iced tea today, I used black tea. Though in Chinese, it is called "red" tea. All real teas are made from the camellia sinensis plant. The black tea is fermented (the green tea is not) and therefore retains its flavor for a long time, is darker in color and contains more caffeine than the other kinds of tea. But of course all teas are rich in polyphenols, which means all teas are good sources of anti-oxidants.
To make this refreshing cup of tea, I used a coffee press. Am I wierd? Brewing tea in a coffee press? But it is very convenient to use! I just put into my (500 ml - size) coffee press:
the black tea leaves, blanched
2 pcs lemongrass leaves, washed, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 inch knob of ginger, peeled, julienned
sugar or sugar substitute, to taste, optional
Boil a pot of water. And pour into the coffee press. Steep everything for 4 to 5 minutes. Strain out the tea leaves, lemongrass and ginger. Let the tea cool down. Pour into glasses and add ice. I do not take sugar with my tea or coffee so I did not add any for myself. But the kids do add sugar to their teas.
Easy, is it not? You just add ginger and lemongrass when you brew your cup of tea, and you get a more healthy kind of drink! You can drink this hot or cold.
Another thing. I do not know why I have this habit of blanching my tea leaves first. I pour a little amount of boiling water into the leaves, just enough that all leaves are submerged, then, swirl the leaves and water together, and pour the hot water out. I will only drink the brew of the second (or third) hot water. This is to make sure the leaves are "cleaned." Am I considered an obsessive-compulsive then? My mother said she knew of an Auntie who makes this blanching and cleaning three times. Do you blanch your tea leaves, too? Of course I am talking about loose tea leaves here. I do not think those tea bags need blanching.
I am sharing this refreshing drink with the Grow Your Own Community, hosted this time by the one and only "soon-to-be-master-chef" who cooks a lot - NoobCook! Grow Your Own, the brainchild of Andrea of Andrea's Recipes, is a twice-a-month blogging event that celebrates the foods we grow or raise ourselves and the dishes we make using our homegrown products. To see last week's anniversary edition round-up, please check out Andrea's Recipes here.