As summer arrives, I’m thinking about the wonderful stone fruits entering the market at this time of year – those highly fragrant white-fleshed peaches (either round or the flat varieties labeled as donut or Saturn type) and nectarines perfuming my kitchen these days. Allowing them to sit out at room temperature for a few days to achieve their fully-ripe, almost rose-like flavor seems to be the way to go. (Peaches belong botanically to the rose family so perhaps their rose-scented personality should not be surprising.) Even those now increasingly in abundance at my farmers’ markets need that window of ripening. Assuming that the fruit has not been picked woefully underripe (and that is often the case though the best specimens are left to ripen on the tree for eating without the need for long distance shipping), it will soften and become fragrant within a couple of days or so, depending on how warm your kitchen is. But in any case, plan ahead for best results.
Coupled with these fruits, the true delicacy of white tea shines. Whether served hot or iced, white tea can be refreshing and almost sweet on its own. But when gently enhanced with a fragrant syrup made from stone fruits, it spells summer for me.
Splurge on the best fruit you can find. If it has no aroma, then pass it by. Wait until the fruits you can find are fully fragrant. This fragrance is what translates into the syrup you are about to make. True simple syrup is made from only two ingredients: Sugar and water, in equal parts by weight. Here I am suggesting using half the quantity of sugar to the weight of the water, for a lighter, less-sweet syrup. Flavoring that syrup with brightly-flavored fruit is the key to a refreshing and irresistible beverage, whether hot or cold. Here’s how to do it.
- 1 lb. (16 ounces) of fruit, pits removed
- 8 oz of granulated sugar
- 8 oz water
Peach Simple Syrup Instructions
Bring the sugar and water to the boil just to dissolve the sugar. Now add the fruit, halved (no peeling needed). Bring again to the boil, remove from the heat, and allow to cool to room temperature. Now place the syrup, fruit, and all, into a container with a lid and place in the refrigerator overnight. Add just enough freshly-squeezed lemon juice to moderate the perceived sweetness of the syrup but not so much as to mask the beautiful flavors of the fruit.
Next day, remove the fruit from the syrup – don’t throw it out; use it on your morning yogurt, or by itself on a plate with a bit of good toasted bread and a lovely mild cheese like Brie. Store the syrup in the refrigerator for up to a week in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid.
Use your favorite white tea – forget the pre-flavored ones whose flavorings are often nature equivalent or artificial. Pai Mu Tan and Yin Zhen from Fujian province are what I look for.
Brew the tea as you would for drinking—2 t. in 8 oz of 185-degree F. water for 5 to 7 minutes. Either drink it hot, flavored with a dash of the stone fruit syrup, or over ice: Sweetened while the tea is hot so that the syrup’s flavor can be fully dispersed into the tea and then decanted into a tall glass filled with ice.
Serve with a slice of fresh stone fruit as garnish.
Chef Wemischner clearly loves peaches. Check out these other offerings from him that feature them:
Isn’t That Darjeeling Peachy? Tea-Poached Peaches a la Mode
Not Your Southern Grandma’s Iced Tea
Stone Fruit with Tea and Cookies