a journal of tea-inspired foods and recipes
I’m skipping the traditional margarita this Cinco de Mayo holiday and opting for a sweet, homemade horchata with a strong and flavorful brewed tea as the liquid base.
Also referred to as horchata “tea” in some Latin cultures, traditional horchata is not really a tea at all. It is a kind of infusion, however, which puts it in the tea-style category of beverages. It is typically prepared by soaking rice and/or nuts in water overnight with cinnamon and vanilla. The ingredients are then blended together and strained to create a refreshing, dairy-free drink best served over ice.
I created this recipe for Teatulia Organic Teas using their Tulsi Infusion Tea. This blend of black tea and tulsi leaves is probably one of my all-time favorites on ice, so I immediately gravitated toward it as the base liquid for this Mexican-inspired beverage. The flavor of Tulsi Infusion is bold and earthy with a hint of spicy sweetness that works perfectly to complement the mild sweetness of this “milky” drink. You could use your own favorite black tea blend here, but I would recommend something strong that would work well with the cinnamon and vanilla flavors. A chai tea blend or a rich and flavorful pu-erh tea would be next on my list of teas to try with this recipe.
By Zanitea, but inspired by my friend Shantelle’s Horchata recipe that I got to make in Savory Spice Shop’s test kitchen, and by about half a dozen other horchata methods I read about while working on this concept.
Makes 3 to 4 cups
3 cups filtered water (plus more if desired, see optional step below)
3 tablespoons your favorite rich, black tea blend tea leaves (I used 3 pyramid bags of Teatulia Tulsi Infusion Tea)
½ cup white rice
1½ cups sliced or slivered blanched almonds
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ cup honey
1 tablespoon Mexican vanilla extract
1 cinnamon stick (optional for garnish)
Note: You will also need a blender, a fine mesh sieve, cheesecloth, and a grater/zester for the cinnamon stick.
1. Boil water and pour over the tea. Let steep for 5 minutes then strain tea but emove reserve steeped leaves. (See optional step below to see what you can do with the steeped leaves.) Set brewed tea aside.
2. Meanwhile, grind rice into as fine a texture as you can get in a blender or coffee/spice grinder. This should take about 1 minute in a blender. The finer the grind, the more the tea and spice will infuse into the grain. (Image below shows a rice before and after the blender.)
3. Add almonds and cinnamon to the blender with the ground rice. Pour in reserved brewed tea and stir lightly to combine. Cover the blender and let the mixture steep at room temperature for about 8 hours. (Start it in the morning for a beverage with dinner, or steep it overnight for an afternoon drink the next day.)
4. Optional step: Boil another 2 cups of water and pour over the reserved tea leaves that you already steeped. Re-steep for 5 minutes then discard tea bags and refrigerate the brewed tea until ready to continue with recipe.
5. Once tea and rice-nut mixture is done steeping in the blender, add honey and vanilla extract. Blend until very smooth. Line a fine mesh sieve with a layer of cheesecloth. (You don’t have to line the sieve with cheesecloth but you’ll get a smoother, less gritty textured beverage if you do.) Strain the blended mixture in batches through the lined sieve and into a clean pitcher. Stir and press with a spoon to get out as much liquid as possible. Discard remaining solids. (You’ll have to discard the solids in batches as you go—it makes great compost by the way!)
6. If you reserved the re-steeped tea, add it to the strained mixture to thin it to your desired consistency. You can use cold filtered water instead of tea here, or you don’t have to thin it at all. To serve, pour over ice filled glasses and garnish with fresh ground cinnamon from the cinnamon stick. (Also delicious with a splash of rum!)