Friday, July 3, 2009

The Best Tisane I've Ever Had

Expletives and herbal tea don't often go together, but I'm pretty sure I muttered one after taking a sip of this after last night's dinner. Made from freshly plucked anise hyssop and cilantro flowers, it was the best tisane I've ever had.

For those who poo-poo herbal tea in favor of true tea, know that equally complex flavors are possible from plants besides camellia sinensis. I didn't fully believe it myself, but this tea was the most powerfully flavorful thing I've put in my mouth this year.

Like garlic scapes, the flowers of herbs are a double boon. A culinary asset on their own, removing them also make the parts of the plant that you really want to eat (the bulb of the garlic and the leaves of the herb) more productive. The flowers of the anise hyssop were a shade of purple that would look at home in a Monet, but once hit by the hot water they became pale. I took comfort in knowing that the purple was now somewhere in the liquor, and that I drank a color.

The hyssop is incredibly sweet and of course very licorice like, and the cilantro flowers are, unsurprisingly, a very floral incarnation of the already cool and lovely cilantro. Together the two were sweet and deeply aromatic with just a hint of savory, no stronger than an association.

We spend so much time comparing the flavors of tea and wine to other things like flowers and herbs. So why not go straight to the source and just drink the flowers and herbs?

Or, as a friend of mine one said, if people want things to sell like hotcakes, why not just sell hotcakes?

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