The Great Un-Steepstering of 2020 Review #11 (08/25/20)
Rather than adding a bunch more individual entries to the (already giant and slow) database when these dry herbs essentially taste like what you would expect when you steep them in water (What, you mean lavender tastes of lavender and ginger tastes of ginger?! Stop the presses!), I’m going to collect these all here since I’ve been using my loose plain herbal infusions stash in a few different ways I want to document.
Culinary Lavender by Silver Fox Lavender Farm
As a bonified lavender fan, this is the one I’ve gotten the most creative with so far. I bought quite a bit from a stall at a Farmer’s Market in Boise (yay supporting local farmers!) so thankfully I still have quite a bit of lavender buds still in-house.
My first endeavor was making lavender-infused hot cocoa by following the recipe here (https://www.teatulia.com/recipes/earl-grey-hot-chocolate-mix.htm), only the portions were so huge (I ended up giving bags to both Todd and my sister!) that now I have copied down versions of it not only halved, but halved several more times from that, down to getting nearly a “sampler size” portion. It’s basically a way of crushing the buds in a spice grinder and mixing them with sugar and cocoa powder for hot chocolate, and the stuff is delicious!
In the winter months, hot lavender lattes are a favorite. I’ve found my favorite way to do them thus far is a half gram of buds per 1 metric cup (a little seems to go a long way!) steeped in 3 parts hot water for 3-5 minutes, then I heat/foam 1 part coconut milk, and mix together with a small dollap of Farmer’s Market honey. I really like the flavor combo of the lavender with the coconut milk! During the summer, I like to cold steep plentiful teabags of it in lemonade, as the lemon/lavender flavor combo is another favorite!
I’ve also been using it to make my own deodorizer spray for the house. I steep a strong infusion (usually a heaping teaspoon of buds in half a cup boiling water), then let the brew cool some, and put it in a small spray bottle with a teaspoon of lemon juice and top it off with water. Makes a nice air spritz and I keep a bottle near every litter box; completely natural and doesn’t bother the kitty!
Ginger by Starwest Botanicals
I’ve been using this almost exclusively to make flavored white rice! While the water for the Minute Rice was boiling, I’d put several teaspoons of the loose ginger in teabags and let them steep in the boiling water, remove the teabags, then add the rice and let it “soak up” the ginger tea to make a lightly ginger-flavored rice. I found the ginger-flavored rice extremely easy on my GI system on days when I was having issues with it due to migraine. As such, I used up my bag I brought home from a co-op on a vacation in San Franciscio quickly. I need to restock!
I also liked mixing this with the hibiscus flowers 50/50 to make a throat balm when I was starting to get a sore throat/cold… the hibiscus was full of that strong Vitamin C hit that I wanted in the early stages of a cold, while the ginger provided the throat balm, and I liked the taste of the two steeped warm together.
Hibiscus Flowers by Starwest Botanicals
I imagine I’m the only person on Steepster who willingly owns (or rather owned… I’ve now used them all up!) plain ol’ hibiscus flowers. My main use was a generous heaping teaspoon per cup cold steeped overnight in lemonade, which gave the lemonade a noticable sort of “raspberry lemonade” sort of flavor that I really liked! I also used them for the 50/50 hibiscus/ginger throat tea for colds, mentioned above.
I guess I had used up way more of my stash than I had thought, because I wanted to experiment with these in Sprite after reading about VariaTea doing so, and I had bought two different bottles of Sprite (traditional and a ginger one… I didn’t even know they made that!) but I had hardly any leaf left! I put a teabag into a tall glass of Sprite, and my findings were that other than turning the Sprite red, it really didn’t change the taste at all. At about halfway through the glass, the Sprite finally started to have a slightly “red berry/punchy” taste to it, but it was still pretty subtle against the flavor of the Sprite itself. By that point there was a) a lot less Sprite in the glass and b) the hibi teabag had been steeping for quite some time, so I guess to get any effect against the sugars/flavors of the Sprite I would’ve needed to use a lot more raw hibi leaf, and also probably done an overnight coldbrew of it. If I restock my leaf (this was another I picked up at the San Francisco co-op, and I can’t easily restock it locally without ordering online), I will have to try that out.
Peppermint by Frontier Co-Op
I had a lot of plans for this… I wanted to infuse cocoa with it, like with the lavender, to make mint cocoa as gifts at the holidays, which never happened, since I ended up using it up just making plain ol’ mint iced tea to soothe my tummy during bad GI attacks for my chronic migraine condition. The last of this from the San Francisco co-op ended up in a big pitcher and is currently in the fridge, and has been going into smoothies, mixing with the smoothie ingredients to leave a lovely fresh, minty taste! This would be nice to restock since I would still like to try out the cocoa idea, but since cheap, bagged mint tea alternatives are easily available here to make iced mint tea for the tum-tum, it isn’t as high of a priority…
Red Rose Buds and Petals by Starwest Botanicals
I still have quite a bit of this left from the San Francisco co-op haul. I have made one batch of rose-infused cocoa, which was just as lovely as the lavender, and have also used it to cold steep in lemonade, which I also really enjoy! I think I may try making another batch of rose lemonade and adding that to fruit smoothies in the future, or if I use up one of the spray bottles of lavender deodorizer and want to switch it up, I may fill one with a rose deodorizer next time.