I hear the cacophony of sounds before I ever smell the spice and blossom waters. Scents of pink roses strewn at my feet. A bath of suds and orange blossom. I see the vibrant reds of spice, and the lights, shadows cast from intricate holes, patterns strewn in combinations and permutations no mathematician can plan.
I’m in Turkey. And I’m asleep. Dreaming.
Of hammams and Kaymak.
Drenched in orange blossom and rose water. Jasmine.
Musky, heady scents.
In my bed. In Port Harcourt.
Sigh, Turkey is HIGH on my list. Of places to visit. To luxuriate in. To feast on and to get to know stall sellers by name in Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar.
– Le Thé du Hammam. It has everything I love: Green tea, cane syrup, watermelon and mint. It is called Pasteque & Menthe – Watermelon & Mint.
Its a drink which I loved the looks of but don’t buy! Only photograph.
I keep coming back to the photo I took of it. Week in, week out.
Till I’ve had enough.
Till I say to myself – you must make this, easy as it is to ‘imagine’. To dream of.
And based on Thé du Hammam, from the French gods of Tea – Le Palais Des Thés:
The du Hammam is a fruity blend which evokes the fragrances used to perfume the hammam: roses, green dates, red fruit and orange flower water. Sprinkled with flower petals in the purest of eastern traditions, the tea’s extraordinary fragrance features a subtle combination of Chinese green tea, celebrated for its freshness and thirst-quenching properties, and rich fruit aroma; Source – Le Palais Des Thés
My blend is made up of what I have at home – Chinese Gunpowder green tea. Brown dates. Dabino to the Hausas of Nigeria. Dried Cranberries. Tiny rose buds purchased in Vienna. The zest of a Nigerian orange and drizzles of rose water.
My thoughts turn to the brewing method…..for I believe that cold-brewing the blend will get the smoothest, most fragrant results. And it does. But I skip ahead of myself.
My The du Hammam cooler
IngredientsMint leaves, muddledCrushed iceWatermelon chunks, and or juiceTea, made with blend (recipe below): hot or cold-brewedSweetener: Sugar cane juice, sugar syrup or sweetener of your choice
Muddle the mint and put in a glass. Or muddle the mint in the glass.
Add the crushed ice, followed by the watermelon chunks.
Top up with green tea and your sweetener of choice.
Stick straws in.
Drink to your heart’s content.
The du Hammam blend
Tea blend4 tablespoons Chinese Gunpowder Green Tea1 teaspoon pink rose petals, or 3 – 4 tiny buds1 teaspoon cranberries1 teaspoon rosewater1/2 teaspoon fine orange zest4 green cardamom pods, crushed1 brown date, called dabino in the north of Nigeria, chopped up
Combine all the ingredients and use in your tea brews.
I tried two methods of brewing the tea – cold and hot.
I preferred the cold by far…..as did the kids – it was smoother, cleaner, fresher!
One way of making Cold-brewed Tea
In a jar or container that can be covered, add teaspoons of tea leaf mixture
Top with water at room temperature
Stir, cover with some plastic wrap or cling film and then place in the refrigerator for 8 hours or overnight
Strain out tea leaves and use mixture
Put teaspoons of tea leaf mixture into a teapot
Add hot water, stir and leave to brew for 4 – 5 minutes
Strain, and cool tea brew
To make sugar syrup
Combine equal amounts of sugar and water in a saucepan
Heat on low to medium, stirring till the sugar dissolves
We ALL loved it. So much so that I made another batch two days later…varying some element but the first was and remains the best.
It was fresh, sweet – but not sugary, refreshing.
A beautiful, simple blend of ingredients with nuances of flavour – hints of rose scents, the herby, minty freshness, and the slight flavour imparted by the watermelon.
Total success and love!
The second trial involved watermelon juice, in a bid to match the ‘colour’ of the original inspiration.
Alas, we haven’t found the balance as the watermelon flavours dominated.
No need to head back to the drawing board this time – we’re sticking with the original!
Looks are sooooooo not everything!
—–00000—–Someday I’ll go to TurkeyI’ll spoil myself sillyBe spoiled sillyI’ll walk arm in arm with himFeet rubbed in lotion laced with rosewaterI’ll inhale the sights, scents and sounds of IstanbulI’ll be happySomeday. Soon