big teas

A little housekeeping first: the subscription link over there in the sidebar finally works. Apologies for the long time when it didn't.  Ice packs for the lump on my head from banging it on the desk trying to fix it gratefully accepted.  I have almost every confidence that if you sign up using the new gizmo, you will actually receive an alert when I post.

And believe me, you won't want to miss even one of the intimidatingly challenging and exotic recipes you have come to expect here. To wit, today's offering: a cup of tea.

“You may have noticed,” said my son this morning, “that I have begun to really like toast."

He comes by it honestly. There is a long double genetic line of inheritance behind this fondness of his, with both parents coming from toast-centric households.

It's only a mild understatement to say that in my opinion, buttered toast and hot tea are two of the cornerstones of a nice life, as well as two of the most direct routes to re-establishing the notion, if you have lost touch with it due to weather or circumstance, that you may already have one.  If I am out of sorts, one or the other or (even better) the two at once go a long way towards restoring me.

I am focusing on the tea, today (toast was covered a while back).  The head cold that has been hunting me all week made landfall yesterday, and it seems to have gathered a good head of steam up en route. I am cornering the market on tea.

Screen shot 2013-02-15 at 1.11.12 PM

Screen shot 2013-02-15 at 1.11.12 PM

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Screen shot 2013-02-15 at 2.51.27 PM

When I was little, my babysitter made me a concoction when I was unwell that I called, fondly, ‘sicky tea.’  She brewed a cup of Lipton Tea (The Brisk One!) and souped it up with the juice of half a lemon and a whopping dollop of Golden Blossom honey.  It was piercing and bracing and soothing all at once and its balance of tart and sweet (you need about twice as much of both lemon and honey as you are instinctively comfortable with) kind of became my gold standard of tea for the infirm. Just looking at those labels there makes me feel better, and about 10 years old,  already.

Then there is ‘thunder potion,’ something I encountered on a wilderness retreat in the woods of New York State with my mother, where I also encountered the flu.  Some nice smelly fellow in moccasins offered me a cup of very hot water with cayenne, honey and lemon that was sicky tea with knobs on, and since then I have always added some kick to the mixture.

Peppermint tea, which if you are called upon to outfit the St. Bernard who will be going up the mountain to rescue me is what you should put in the little barrel flask around his neck, makes a stupendous base for sicky tea.  The menthol-y fumes definitely increase the relief from congestion and woe.

Steeping fresh grated ginger in hot water creates another useful base liquid to build this potion on, and for maximum head-clearing effect, try ginger and peppermint together.  I never miss a chance to mouth off about sourcing good honey; right now I’m a big customer here.

Cups 94-97 of tea today have engaged the power of a mighty substance brewed in my neck of the woods called Fire Cider, which I have been observed to drink neat on draggy mornings for the "thanks!  I needed that!" reaction it stimulates.  My trusty blue mug is presently steaming with a jigger of the stuff in hot water (as hot as you can stand to drink it without burning your tongue, which is the last thing you need when your head is stuffed full of dryer lint and everything tastes like paste), enhanced with my usual truckloads of lemon and honey.

Crawling back to bed now, to ruminate on how I could possibly top a recipe for tea, and also to moan and feel sorry for myself. If there is anything amiss with you and tea won't fix it, my sympathies; this very friendly compendium may have the solution you seek.