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Embrace the ittars, the exotic scents of the Levant
In tendrils of steam from the hammams of Turkey
Rosewater. Orange Blossom. Jasmine
Fragrances captured and essences preserved by ancient methods that go back to the Renaissance
Experience the abundance of fragrances
Get carried away with the heady notes and exotic dances of the Levant
Captured in this home-made tea blend
 
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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.

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Courtsey of Google

I’m awake.

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.

But its at Charles De Gaulle airport, Paris last Fall that I first see this tribute to Turkey….

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-   Le Thé du Hammam. It has everything I love: Green tea, cane syrup, watermelon and mint. It is called Pasteque & Menthe – Watermelon & Mint.

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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.

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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.

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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

Ingredients

Mint leaves, muddled
Crushed ice
Watermelon chunks, and or juice
Tea, made with blend (recipe below): hot or cold-brewed
Sweetener: Sugar cane juice, sugar syrup or sweetener of your choice
 
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Directions

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.

Watermelon-GreenTea-SugarCane Cooler from Ozoz Sokoh on Vimeo.

Stick straws in.

Drink to your heart’s content.

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The du Hammam blend

Tea blend
4 tablespoons Chinese Gunpowder Green Tea
1 teaspoon pink rose petals, or 3 – 4 tiny buds
1 teaspoon cranberries
1 teaspoon rosewater
1/2 teaspoon fine orange zest4 green cardamom pods, crushed
1 brown date, called dabino in the north of Nigeria, chopped up

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Directions

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

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Stir, cover with some plastic wrap or cling film and then place in the refrigerator for 8 hours or overnight

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Strain out tea leaves and use mixture

Hot-brewed Tea

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

Verdict

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.

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Alas, we haven’t found the balance as the watermelon flavours dominated.

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No need to head back to the drawing board this time – we’re sticking with the original!

Looks are sooooooo not everything!

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Someday I’ll go to Turkey
I’ll spoil myself silly
Be spoiled silly
I’ll walk arm in arm with him
Feet rubbed in lotion laced with rosewater
I’ll inhale the sights, scents and sounds of Istanbul
I’ll be happy
Someday. Soon
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