My Cup of Tea
Is it possible to have a crush on a food? If so, I may have developed a crush on rose-scented tea. Just after Christmas a coworker left some in the shared kitchenette at work. I am not usually one for flower-scented beverages. They tend to taste like soap. The rose scent on this tea, however, was light and sweet and really inviting. I tried a cup and I was smitten. It was like drinking an impressionist painting. A quick spin on the internet lead me to the manufacturer’s web site and the sad discovery that rose-scented tea is not a luxury I can afford. Seriously, a box of 100 tea bags costs about one quarter of my weekly grocery budget. I cannot justify that. For six months, though, I have been thinking about this delicious infusion.
Then I remembered I have my own roses! I often forget about my rose bush, as I really do not do much to take care of it. It was next to the front door when we moved in eight years ago. I suspect it was planted by the house’s original owners in the 1930’s and that it is holding our foundation together. Mr. Food It Yourself is not a big fan of this particular rose, as it is covered with closely spaced, needle sharp thorns which grab your ankles as the branches spill across our walk way. He has cut the branches back to the ground and even hit the stump with a blow torch. Mrs. Rose comes back every year. We never fertilize it. I’ll spritz the leaves with an insecticidal soap maybe once per season, mostly so pests do not migrate to plants I am more interested in.
This year, we have a terrific bloom of pink perfume. For the first time I am going to take advantage of those flowers and DIY some rose scented tea. Because…well, you know.
I trimmed the flowers with scissors, leaving the petals attached to the calyx (the little green leafy-like part under the flower). I figured this would make them easier to handle during the next step- a good rinse in cool water. Like I said, I do not do a lot of maintenance on this bush, and I do not want aphid-scented tea. I spun the little blossoms dry in my salad spinner, then grabbed my dehydrator trays.
I had to get a little creative here, as the petals were smaller than the holes in the dehydrator trays. I cut parchment paper to fit the tray sections, then pricked holes in the paper with a pin to get better air flow. Note that the center hole and edges of the tray are open. Then I piled the petals on the paper. It took three trays for the number of flowers I harvested.
A subtle rose scent wafted from the dehydrator as the petals dried. It only took about 3 hours to get the petals crispy. Here are a few fresh petals next to some dried ones. I moved the dried petals to a storage jar to await a morning taste test.
The moment of truth- a little loose leaf tea, some dried petals, and a three minute steep in freshly boiled water. The results were very good. The rose scent and flavor were not as pronounced as in the commercially made tea; I can add more petals to my next cup. The rose scent was not overpowering, soapy, or reminiscent of old lady perfume. I am pretty sure the loose leaf tea Mr. Food It Yourself keeps around for his masala chai is higher quality than the stuff that commercial dealer was using. I am calling this a success.
Few things are more exciting for me as a DIYeter than recreating a commercially available product. Saving a wad of cash is pretty nice, too. Best of all I get the floral, delightful tea I crave. Mr. Food It Yourself is still hell bent on getting rid of our rose bush, but is willing to replace it with another, less dangerously thorny variety. I will have to impress upon him the importance of selecting a variety with appropriately scented blooms.
What is the best recreation of a commercial product you have ever managed to make in your kitchen? What was your motivation for trying to DIY that product? Share in the comments section!
If your dehydrator has a temp control, reduce the temp. If you can smell the rose as it dries, essential oils are being lost due to the heat and therefore flavor is being reduced. It will take a bit longer to dry, but will mean you won’t have to increase the number of petals per cup of tea to have more flavor, thus more cups. I just dry my petals on a cookie sheet rather than in the dehydrator so I don’t lose any essential oil.
Unfortunately my dehydrator is super basic, so there is no temperature control. The best I could do is stack the full trays on top of all the empty ones so they were are far from the heat as possible. I will keep your advice in mind when I eventually upgrade, though. 🙂