Temporarily placing aside the frost forming on my windshield every morning, I can feel the effects of the subzero temperatures via my peeling fingertips and cracked hands. It's a painful period to endure, and the only thing that succeeds in providing relief is staying indoors, with a good cup of tea of course.
Besides the diverse selection of DAVIDsTEA's annual advent calendar, Chinese Almond Tea is another one of my go-tos for slow, stay-at-home sessions. A very traditional recipe, I adapted the family formula slightly to suit my tastebuds and time constraints. Preparations are ridiculously simple, though be sure to allow yourself enough time to complete the entire recipe, as the final step is a tad tedious.
- 210 g Chinese "Southern" almonds (approx. 1 cup)
- 8 cups water
- 1 cup rock sugar *
- glutinous rice (opt.)
1) Soak almonds overnight.
2) Drain and grind finely using a food processor. Scrape down the sides and pulse several times if needed. Once ground, the almond flour yield was approximately 4 cups.
3) Transfer the saturated almond flour to a large pot. Add water and simmer over medium heat, stirring periodically.
4) Add rock sugar and continue stirring.
5) For a thicker consistency, one may also choose to add in 1/2 cup of glutinous rice. This increases the starch content of the mixture, resulting in a smoother, more luscious texture. For this recipe, I did not include this addition, though the decision is based purely off of preference.
6) Stir the mixture periodically to prevent sticking and burning; reduce the heat if necessary.
7) Once the rock sugar has dissolved fully, remove from heat and let cool slightly.
8) Using a fine mesh strainer (or sieving device of choice), filter the almond flour from the mixture. This step is the most tedious, and pivotal, portion of the recipe, since the aim is to minimize the fines content in the beverage for consumption.
9) Set the partially-saturated almond flour aside for later use.
10) Let cool completely and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
11) Serve hot or cold. Enjoy!
- Feel free to adjust the amount of rock sugar in this recipe to your liking. Other types of sweeteners can also be used, though I have not attempted re-creating the recipe with such adjustments and therefore cannot vouch for the results. It is suggested to refrain from using tinted sweeteners (ie. brown sugar or golden syrups), as they will render the final product a dingy tone.
- Separating the almond flour from the remainder of the mixture is the most tedious portion of the recipe. Personally, I have tried using everything from coffee filters to cheesecloths to fine mesh strainers to baking sieves; the results obtained using the fine mesh strainer was the most ideal - both in terms of time efficiency and almond flour recovery. However, it was still quite time consuming given the number of times the mixture had to be strained. Should one intend to make Almond Tea on a regular basis, it is recommended that a large wire mesh strainer be obtained.