If you are like me, you have had this experience. You have just brewed a favorite tea and then taken one sip. Inopportunely but invariably, the phone rings or someone’s at the door and you are derailed from that relaxing cup, distracted for just long enough that the perfectly brewed tea has cooled in the cup. Are you disappointed or angered about a potential waste of perfection? For me, quite the contrary. Often, I’m pleasantly surprised by just how different and satisfying the tea tastes when it has cooled to room temperature. All of its flavor notes are intact, the blooming in the cup to be appreciated. It’s as if the tea is saying, “I’m good from the first hot sip to the last cooled-down one. I cannot be devalued.”
And then I think about the hard work of so many people who toil in the tea business all along the supply chain–from planter to plucker, from factory processor to packager, and finally from exporter to vendor–before it reaches my cup. I feel guilty wasting a leaf or a drop of the liquor in my cup. So in fact, at this citrus-abundant time of year, I often brew more tea than I intend to drink and pour the surplus over a colorful medley of supremed citrus for a simple seasonal dessert (“supreme” refers to perfectly intact segments of fruits obtained by peeling them down to the flesh removing all of the bitter pith and then separating the flesh from the membrane that connects them). Here’s how it’s done.
Tea-drenched citrus with a drizzle of honey
To serve 4
4 c. of a combination of the best citrus fruits you can find: navel oranges, pink or white grapefruit, Oroblanco low-acid grapefruit, cocktail grapefruit (mandelo), blood oranges, tangerines, and clementines, among others
4 c. just brewed and cooled-down tea of your choice
¼ to ½ cup of orange blossom honey (or other local variety of your choice)
Pinch of sea salt to garnish each serving
Using a small sharp serrated knife, cut a thin slice from the stem or blossom end of each fruit to steady the fruit on your cutting surface. Now carefully remove and discard the peel and pith from each citrus fruit, following the contour of the fruit. You can go back with the same knife to remove any errant remaining pith that you find. To make the process easier, cut each peeled fruit in half, inserting the knife on either side of the segments, taking care not to cut through any of the segments. Now you should have two roughly demispherical pieces of the fruit. Place the halves flat side down on a cutting surface. Again insert the knife between the membranes to extract each of the segments, moving around the fruit until all segments have been removed. (The goal is to remove each segment keeping it intact as possible; some fruits will be softer and therefore more challenging to process in this way.) Divide any juice that has collected on the cutting surface among the four individual serving bowls. Place an assortment of citrus supremes into each of the bowls. Pour the brewed tea over them and drizzle the honey over all. Sprinkle with salt and serve immediately with a thin ginger molasses cookie.