November 10, 2012

Quince Tea

by Marjan

Along with my Persian heritage, I have embraced my culture’s yearning for tea. In previous posts, I have written about the importance of making the perfect rice to accompany stew in Persian cooking. The quality of rice reflects how well the cook has perfected the art of cooking. In my opinion, the tradition which accompanies tea is just as profound. The tea leaf, how it is brewed, and how it is served is an art form. However, drinking tea is such an integrated practice of our daily lives; I think most Persian serve tea as readily as they serve any other beverage and have overlooked tradition. Therefore, I'm inspired when upon chance in occasional ceremonies and gatherings, the quality of tea and how it's served, is as pivotal as how well Person rice is prepared. Shortly after each guest arrives and minutes after the meal has ended, tea is immediately served; usually in elegant, delicate mini glasses especially designed for tea.

On a daily basis, most Persians enjoy their morning tea and tea time after lunch and dinner. Here in America, we have adopted the ‘big’ concept. Tea is usually served in large glass mugs! I know most Persians would shutter at my honesty, we have even simplified the art of making tea by using tea bags! Now I have done it! I have let the Persian cat out of the bag!

One cool fall evening, my mother shared with me her mother’s recipe for quince tea. Now I have really done it…completely braking tradition with the customary Ceylon, Earl Gray, and other specialty blends!

Quince is an autumn fruit used primarily to make preserves or to be used in stew. My mother also takes advantage of all the nutrients of this fruit by shredding it, spreading it flat on a large cookie sheet, and drying in the oven at a temperature of 175 degrees for 3-4 hours. Once the fruit has dried, she removes it from the oven and allows it to completely cool prior to placing it in jars to be used as tea all year long!

To make the tea, place one teaspoon of the dried quince in a glass mug. Pour boiling hot water to fill glass half way. Cover glass with a large kitchen towel for 10-15 minutes. Prior to serving, add more hot water. This delicious and nutritious tea is ready to be served. Naturally sweet and slightly tart, this nutritious, caffeine free tea warms the soul on cold fall and winter nights.
Enjoy!

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