I had forgotten just how beautiful the ceremony of tea-making is. As we watched the sunset, the light caught each of the teapots along the table and the liquid inside shone through the glass like jewels.
Marina had a little hourglass timer for each different blend and she was bobbing up and down watching the grains of sand fall and making sure each tea was given exactly the right amount of time to steep.
Over the last couple of years my tea making has gotten lazy (I know, coming from a Brit as well – shocking!) I’d gotten myself into a rut of plonking a Lady Grey teabag into a mug, covering it in water, giving it two minutes to brew and then slurping away. And that’s fine I guess, but really, tea can and should be so much better.
That’s why I was so excited to be invited by Avantcha to try out some of their tea. I love the way they take the classic blends and add their own twist. Like the Chocolate Chilli, which smelt like hot chocolate and had the rich smooth taste of Chinese Black Tea, but then there’s that little kick of chilli at the back of your throat. Talk about the perfect tea for a chilly afternoon.
This is the first year Avantcha have launched special blends for winter and what a delight they are. The Avantcha Noel is a mixture of orange peel, cinnamon, ginger and black tea and tastes quite literally like mulled wine in a tea. Organic Winter Apple is a green tea with cinnamon and green apple, it tastes wonderfully refreshing.
Finally there is the Cocoa Orange Masala a herbal tea of orange peel blended with oriental spices and cocoa cores, I loved the smoothness with a touch of spice and it’s the one I was most looking forward to playing with when I got home.
If there was ever such a thing as a dessert tea, this was it. I’ve drunk lots of herbal teas where the flavour wasn’t anywhere close to the ingredients listed and it just ended up as coloured hot water. That’s not the case with Avantcha tea, so it would need to be something that would complement the slight spicy masala infusion.
I went for apples poached in the tea, nestled in a bed of crumble and drizzled with chocolate. I peeled, cored and sliced some good old Granny Smiths, put water in a pan and once it was boiling added the tea. I gave it two minutes to steep and slipped the apple pieces in to poach. Five minutes later the apples were soft (but not mushy) and I removed them from the water to cool.
I crumbled together the oats, butter, vanilla essence and brown sugar, spread it out onto a baking tray and popped it in the oven. Once it was browned and allowed to cool, I used it as a base and put the poached apple pieces on top. Lastly, I melted some chocolate and drizzled it over the top.
And so the Masala Apple Crumble was born PLUS I got to drink the tea that the apples were poached in. Double win!
The tea gives the apples a slight spice, which really adds something to the dish, but doesn’t make it overpowering. The chocolate on top brings out the cocoa in the masala mix and adds a little sweetness. This would be great dinner party as everything (other than the chocolate) can be prepared beforehand.
Do you use tea in your cooking? Any recipes you’d recommend I try out?
A new take on a traditional apple crumble. Apples poached in a masala tea bring just a hint of spice to the apples. I'd suggest a rich and creamy milk chocolate for the drizzling - you don't want anything too bitter.
Crumble: Pre-heat oven to 180c.
Mix together in a bowl the rolled oats, plain flour, brown sugar, vanilla extract and butter.
Rub the ingredients together with your fingers to form a crumble.
Spread the mixture onto a lined baking dish.
Bake for 30 minutes - until starting to brown.
Poached Apples: Peel and core the apples then slice each into eighths.
Add 500ml of boiling water into a saucepan (so that the apples are just covered)
Put the Cocoa Orange Masala tea into bags or a diffuser) and let the water boil for two minutes so that the tea steeps.
Then add the apple slices to the pan and cook for 5 minutes (until the apples are soft, but not mushy)
Once cooked remove the apple slices with a slotted spoon and leave to cool.
To serve: Place crumble mixture onto the centre of each plate, put the apple slices on top of the crumble.
Melt the chocolate and drizzle it over the apple.