August 28th, 2009

Red Sauce? How About Red Tea?

Years ago I was berated for making "fusion" red sauces for pasta. Ironically, though I improvised a wide range of recipes, featuring everything from mangos to sardines, the one that brought down the ire of my traditionalist critic -- an experience that led to this essay, the only piece of mine ever translated into Italian -- was one I copied verbatim from the San Francisco Chronicle that featured ginger. I almost never muster the discipline to follow a recipe exactly. But that time I did and learned my lesson: don't be gregious.

I recalled those happier days this afternoon when I decided to make a pot of tea. Whenever I get a cold I crave tea. But I've been pretty herd-animalish about preparing it. Not today, though. I came up with a recipe for a blend that is proving delicious as the base for one of the jury-rigged lattés that I've been making with the microwave and a cheap milk frother in the wake of the espresso machine's depressing demise. Here it is:
• Put about half the amount of roiboos tea and half the amount of black tea you'd normally use for a full pot together
• Steep for a a few minutes while the milk is heated
• Stir in about two teaspoons of Trader Joe's organic, vanilla-flavored hemp protein powder
• Steep for a few more minutes, stirring periodically
• Froth the milk
• Pour in enough tea to fill your cup
I've been wanting to find a use for the hemp powder since I impulsively purchased it a few weeks back. It changes the texture of smoothies in an unpleasant way and doesn't taste great on its own. But, since it looked a little like Japanese macha, I figured it would benefit from mixing with hot water. The resulting hybrid tea is surprisingly delicious. And, for those of you still sunning yourselves in the afterglow of Thomas Pynchon's Infinite Vice, I'm sure other variations on hemp powder would be similarly tasty, should you find yourselves in a café in the Netherlands with many loose leaf options to choose from.