At a time when there is a plethora of melons on the market, from cantaloupes to Ogens to honeydews to Galias to Charentais varieties, and the weather is warm, if not downright hot, I am taking my daily tea in an ice cold form: frappéed.
Beautiful green-fleshed stripe-skinned melons with a tinge of guava in their perfume are my starting point. Soft and juicy, these make the perfect foil to good-quality kitchen grade matcha. Served in a tall, pre-chilled glass (keep some in the freezer for just such an occasion), there is nothing better to quench one’s thirst in these almost-dog days of summer. But here’s a caveat. If a melon doesn’t have an almost intoxicating aroma, don’t buy it. You will be disappointed and no amount of sugar or salt added to the fruit will conjure the perfume that the ripest, best specimens can offer. Your local farmers’ market or specialty food store is probably your best source now. But buying melons at their peak means you need to use them soon after you get them home. Like tomatoes, refrigerating them kills their delicate fresh-from-the-vine aroma. When everything aligns, here’s how I combine the tea and the fruit.
Use equal parts melon and ice cubes by weight (a good rule of thumb: for a single serving, use 1 t. of tea to 2 ounces of each of fruit and fresh ice cubes). In a mini blender, whirl the tea with a bit of hot water to dissolve fully. Now add the melon, a pinch of salt and ice cubes and process further until the ice is fully blended. Pour into the chilled glass, garnish with melon balls and a spritz of fresh lime juice, if you like and serve immediately. If you wish a sweeter beverage, add a bit of sugar syrup or agave syrup when you are dissolving the tea powder and then proceed. If you wish to gild the lily (and why not? it’s summer after all), leave room in the glass for a scoop of good quality vanilla ice cream. Serve with a large diameter straw and a spoon. Luxuriate in the moment. Ahh…..