A few weeks back I had bought a heap of hibiscus and rose hip tea from Bulk Barn. Why I bought it – other than the fact that they were on ‘SALE’ and looked and smelled like potpourri – I have no idea. I am not an herbal tea drinker; never have been, only submissively drink echinacea when my husband suggests it to help me sleep. ‘Real’ tea is what I like, with milk and sugar, and sometimes with a lot more milk and cardamoms.
I cannot think about a hibiscus without thinking about Boskie. The little brown Labrador pup came home at 28 days and stayed for eleven years. For the first two weeks he slept in a cardboard box in my room (and peed on my bed once). Full disclosure: I wasn’t allowed to have him on my bed, and I never told my mom. Mothers know everything; not that time, though, because I never got reprimanded. I still remember how he smelled as a new pup. I remember Boskie fondly. My heart is still sore from having to miss him since I left home 13 years back and no longer seeing him when I return for visits. Boskie passed away in 2006.
Boskie ate hibiscus flowers. On his morning run around the garden we found him chomping down the shriveled and dried hibiscus that fell from the tree the night before. It was a ridiculous sight. He grew to be a funny dog, always doing funny things and keeping us happy.
Once home, the ‘tea’ got tucked in carefully out of sight. The perfume from this tea could scarcely be ignored. I wanted to forget about the ‘tea/potpourri’ just as much I wanted to ignore my wayward shopping habits. Once in a while I’d take the container out and have a look until Tony caught me in the act.
“Why don’t we have some?” he said.
“ I’ll make some for you if you want”, I said cutely enough, avoiding another invitation to yet another herbal tea.
“How about you? I had hibiscus tea in Morocco, it’s nice, you’ll like it” he asked eagerly.
“Eeerm…hmm…OK” I replied, submissively again. What is it with herbal tea and Tony, I wonder? Why can’t I ever refuse his proposal of herbal tea?
Surprisingly the steeped tea was sweetly aromatic, lusciously crimson in color, slightly tart at first sip with a sweet ending at the back of the tongue. A nice experience, but still not enough to convert me to an herbal tea drinker. Tony on the other hand brooded over his African trip as he sipped his tea. Before he got reminded again and asked to share another cup of herbal tea with me, I had to make this tea disappear. I may be a compulsive shopper, a sucker for ‘SALE’ signs but I do try to avoid wastage. I wanted to do more than just make tea out of it … a syrup maybe?
I’m a clever one I think!
Very easy syrup it was, sweet and tart and a visual delight. The taste was refreshing and promised versatility. The syrup needed to be highlighted with something exquisitely light, mildly sweet, and visually pale to highlight the ruby red jewel-toned syrup, like a White Chocolate Panna Cotta with fragrant cardamom.
HIBISCUS AND ROSE HIP TEA SYRUP
- Hibiscus and Rose Hip Tea: 5 tbsp
- Water: 1 cup
- Honey: ½ cup
In a small saucepan combine Water and tea and set to boil on medium heat. Once boiled, turn heat down to simmer. Cover and simmer for 20 mins.
Take off heat and cool completely. Once cooled strain tea. Put the strained tea back into the saucepan, add honey and simmer until the tea has reached a thick consistency. The syrup should coat the back of a spoon and stay. Transfer and refrigerate.
WHITE CHOCOLATE PANNA COTTA
- Full cream: 300 ml
- Milk: ¾ cup and 1 tbsp
- White Chocolate chunks/chips: 150g
- Sugar: 2 tbsp
- Powdered Gelatin: 2 tsp
- Cardamom powder: 1 tbsp
- Hibiscus and Rose Hip Tea syrup: 1 cup or more
Grease 6 moulds (1/2 cup size).
Combine cream, ¾ cup milk, chocolate and sugar in a small pan and heat over a low heat until chocolate is melted and smooth.
Sprinkle gelatine over 2 tsp of warm milk and stir until dissolves.
Stir into the cream mixture.
Divide mixture evenly between the 6 moulds.
Cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours or overnight.
To serve, turn the panna cotta out of the moulds onto serving plates.
Put 2 tbsp syrup in each plate, sprinkle with powdered cardamoms and decorate with rose petals!
Enjoy every spoonful!