Tuesday, August 02, 2005

IMBB #17: Lemon Verbena and Lavender Jelly

TasteTea is my comeback IMBB!:)

I remember my first IMBB, way back when it was in its single digits. It was one of those things that inspired me to start a food blog. Two years on, I've moved on to two more countries in different continents, seen my old blog disappear with a bad hosting company, and done nothing much with respect to food blogging except live vicariously through other people's wonderful sites. Not blogging much is also tied to the nomadism and new busy life, the stresses and non-permanence of it all leading to a mostly uninspired kitchen. But with the next 7 months in glorious Japan, I thought it was the perfect time to start it up again.

My first contribution in ages (thank you Clement for probably the most clever and inspiring themes ever) is a very simple concoction, result of the severely simplified culinary life I've been leading, as well as a pretty sparse kitchen. I just had to use verbena, my absolute number-one bedtime tea, and some dried lavender, brought over from the US in a doubled-up ziplock bag for special occasions like these. I added lavender to deepen the flavour, as verbena tends to be rather muted.

Verbena is also special because we used to live in Ascona in Ticino, Switzerland, and the Italian town just across the lake was called Verbania, named after the verbena-lined lakeshore. Verbena isn't such a popular herb but I find it a lot more soothing than camomile tea. I first drank the tea in Lausanne, where some friends were hosting us. With the strong aroma of verbena flowers, and the heady addition of fleur d'orange syrup, we almost fell asleep at the table.

The recipe

1 teabag lemon verbena, also known as vervain (mine had a bit of fleur d'orange in it)
1 teaspoon dried lavender
1 5g-sachet of agar-agar or jelly, procured with some challenge at the local Japanese supermarket
3 cups of water

Brew the lemon verbena and lavendar in the 3 cups of water, boiling gently. At the end of the brewing (according to teabag instructions), add in sachet of jelly/agar-agar and stir until it dissolves. Strain the mixture and pour into moulds as desired. Cool and refrigerate until set.

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