I’m always surprised by the kitchen sophistication of my 14-year-old niece. When we hang out, she often brings a long list of homemade cooking projects she wants to accomplish. Our latest hang-out session included crepes, walnut bread, cardamom buns, granola, seed crackers, and four-bean chili. All of which we tackled over two days.
This simple yet sophisticated protein shake is inspired by my niece too. During our two-day cooking marathon she rattled off her “recipe” for her favorite smoothie: almond milk, almond butter, cinnamon, yogurt, and protein powder. Easy, healthy, and delicious. I added a few tweaks to my version…to include tea of course.
Why this recipe works with tea: One of the easiest ways to incorporate tea into smoothies or shakes is to freeze strong-brewed tea in ice cube trays. You can add a handful of tea ice cubes to your favorite blended beverage for a healthy energy boost, including naturally-derived caffeine, antioxidants, and amino acids.
While you can freeze any type of tea into ice cubes, I like the earthy notes of pu-erh for this protein shake.
Pu-erh is a post-fermented tea; meaning it goes through a microbial fermentation process after the tea leaves have been oxidized, shaped, and dried. During this process the tea is actually aged, like a fine wine, anywhere from months to years to decades. This fermentation process yields a unique earthy flavor derived from friendly bacteria and fungi and tinged with woodsy and savory notes.
For this protein shake recipe I used Adagio’s Pu-erh Hazelberry loose leaf tea. Hints of nuts and berries make this a smooth-drinking pu-erh that’s still rich and earthy. It’s not overly flavored either; just a bit of cocoa nibs with light strawberry and hazelnut flavoring helps balance the pungent savory notes a traditional pu-erh naturally emits. This is a great pu-erh to try if you’re new to this unique category of gourmet tea. It makes delicious ice cubes for nutty smoothies too!
Happy cooking and sipping!
P.S. Thanks a bunch to Adagio Teas for sending me a selection of teas to review in my Tea Foodie kitchen.
Almond Pu-erh Protein Shake
By Suzanne Klein, Tea Foodie
Makes one shake, with enough tea ice cubes for two more shakes.
For tea ice cubes:
1 tablespoon pu-erh loose leaf tea (I used Adagio’s Pu-erh Hazelberry tea)
2 cups just boiled water
For one shake:
1/4 cup almond milk
1/4 cup plain or vanilla yogurt
1 tablespoon almond butter
1 teaspoon honey
1 scoop of your favorite protein powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
4 to 6 tea ice cubes
Chopped strawberries and almonds for garnish (optional)
For tea ice cubes: Steep pu-erh in just boiled water for 5 to 7 minutes. Strain and let tea cool. Pour tea into an ice cube tray and freeze overnight. Makes enough ice cubes to make three shakes.
For one shake: Place all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into a glass and top with chopped almonds and strawberries if desired.