I love saffron, but only recently – when I bought a couple of grams from the Iran Pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo – did I realize one can infuse and drink it as an herbal tea. Nicely warming and soothing, especially with a spoonful of honey or yellow sugar. Reputedly good for feminine complaints. Permeates the entire kitchen, the charm of saffron being that it smells like nothing much very penetratingly. The Krocus Kozanis box conveys the scent even unopened in the grocery store, through the plastic wrap.
Greek saffron, according to the paper slip, has been in production since Minoan Crete (1600 BC) and is recognized as the best quality in the world. In my experience, every spice-producing country claims theirs to be the best, and Greeks claim everything of theirs to be the best and the oldest – but this stuff does punch above its weight. There’s a floweriness to it that makes one think of a living plant rather than a dry spice, and it’s not even whole stamens. Possibly the herbs and honey (boy is it honey-tastic) in the traditional recipe bring out the fragrance.
(Incidentally, the non-bookmark-friendly Flash doohickey on the Krocus Kozanis web site gives the following recipe for iced saffron fruit tea from scratch:
1 cup thyme honey
1 litre ice-cold water
3-4 slices lemon
5-6 slices orange
5-6 slices apple (unpeeled)
2 tbsp lemon juice
3-4 spearmint twigs, well rinsed
Soak saffron in a cup of warm water for a few hours. Remove from water and place in a sizeable glass jug with the thyme honey and ice-cold water. [Ed.— it makes no sense to me to discard the first infusion, but that’s what it says.] Stir well to dissolve honey and taste for desired sweetness. Add the orange, apple, and lemon slices to the jug. Add lemon juice and a few ice cubes. Finally, add the spearmint twigs and stir well.)
4.70$CAN for ten teabags is pricey, but saffron always is – and one bag should be good for several infusions, if my experience with the from-scratch version counts for anything.