I recently read this characterisation of hot drink imbibers:
Tea drinkers are golden oldies fans. Those who take it from a pot, never from a bag, are classical music snobs. Instant coffee drinkers go for hits from the ’70s and ’80s. Short black aficionados turn into whatever is new and funky. The only people who drink herbal teas are folk singers and old hippies.
That makes me a fan of golden oldies and an old hippie folk singer, yet a lover of the new and funky.
Thank goodness that characterisation is not true today, and along with good espresso coffee, tea has found a rightful place after losing out to coffee for a while. Herbal teas are available in cafes and restaurants, chai is a perfectly acceptable cafe-based low-caffine drink for non-coffee drinkers.
They say tea was discovered in 2737BCE when Chinese Emperor Shen Ning infused dried camellia leaves in water to make a pleasant drink that gave him vigour and focus.
Thank goodness for that. Today we use tea in preparing a dessert or breakfast dish with tea and prunes.
Similar recipes include Baked Plums with Marsala or Port.
Prunes are actually the dried form of Prune Plums, a gorgeous type of plum. In France, prunes are soaked in Armagnac for a delicious treat. But they are also a good match with tea and orange. If you use Earl Grey tea, which includes bergamot oil, you combine the two. If we add orange zest it intensifies the flavour. And the bitterness of tea makes the sweet prunes sing.
You can leave the sugar/jaggery out if you wish. Prunes are sweet in their own right.
A Good Brew – Prunes in Tea with Spices, Mandarin and Lemon
500g good quality large unpitted prunes – the stones impart a light almond flavour, so leave them in)
2 strips each of mandarin or orange zest and lemon or lime zest
1 cinnamon stick
1 whole star anise
1 cm ginger root, finely grated
1 – 2 tspn brown sugar or jaggery
1 pot freshly brewed black tea – perhaps a Lady Grey or Earl Grey
Place the prunes into a bowl with the mandarin and lemon zests, ginger and the cinnamon stick and star anise.
Pour over enough hot tea to cover the prunes by 1cm. Stir in the sugar or jaggery and set aside to cool.
When cool, cover the prunes and allow to macerate in the fridge for at least 24 hours to become fully plump and flavoursome. Turn once or twice during this time.
Serve for breakfast with muesli, overnight oats or cereal, and yoghurt.
Alternatively, add a little cognac, amaretto or masala and serve with fresh ricotta as a dessert.
The spices can be replaced with a vanilla bean, split in two and seeds scraped into the mixture.
Use a strong flavoured herbal tea in place of black tea.