Very early spring is all about Japanese cherry blossoms and fresh new flavours. This early spring weekend marks the return of the annual Victoria Tea Festival, held at the Crystal Gardens downtown. Tea traditions, tea trends, cooking with tea, perfectly brewed cups of tea, presentations and much more.
I am lucky enough to be one of the presenters at the Tea Festival. Come by and see me ‘Cook With Tea’ at 3 pm on Saturday. I’ll show you some tips on how best to cook with tea. As well, I will hand out recipes and a few samples.
My Japanese Sour Cherry Tea Sorbet is not going to be one of the recipes that I present at the festival (I have something as good in mind, though!) However, this is a delicious and unusual recipe, a perfect taste for early spring yearnings, so I thought I would share it here.
The sour cherry flavour of this sorbet is strong and clear, but the slightly tannic and refreshing tea flavour comes through as well. The sorbet mixture can be made with either cherry juice or pomegranate juice. The cherry juice makes for a more straightforward cherry flavour, while the pomegranate juice allows the tea flavour to come out a bit more. Opinions are exactly divided in our house as to which juice makes the better sorbet. I prefer the pomegranate – I find that the tart, fruity, and slightly bitter overtones match perfectly with the green tea and sour cherry infusion. My helper preferred the cherry juice – she said she loved the way it emphasized the cherry flavour and made it come through beautifully.
Really, either way, this is a dynamite dessert.
JAPANESE SOUR CHERRY AND GREEN TEA SORBET
Makes about 1 litre of sorbet
This is an refreshing, complex, and fruity sorbet. This mixture can also be used to make popsicles or Granita. The mixture can be made with either cherry juice or pomegranate juice. The cherry juice makes for a more straightforward cherry flavour, while the pomegranate juice allows the tea flavour to come out a bit more. Opinions are exactly divided in our house as to which juice makes the better sorbet.
1 1/3 cup sugar
3 cups water
1/4 cup loose Japanese sour cherry-flavoured green tea (available at Silk Road)
1 cup bottled black cherry juice OR unsweetened pomegranate juice
2 Tb fresh lemon juice (optional – I often add this to the cherry juice version, but not usually to the pomegranate)
Combine sugar and water in a medium sauce pan. Heat gently while stirring to dissolve sugar. Bring to a boil and boil for 3 minutes. Remove from heat, let cool for one minute, and then stir in the cherry tea leaves. Let sit for 3 minutes, and then strain through a fine-meshed strainer or cheesecloth-lined strainer into a large bowl. Let cool for about 30 minutes. Stir in the juice of your choice and lemon juice, if using. Place mixture in the fridge to cool completely before freezing.
Once cool, this delicious liquid can be made into one of three things:
Sorbet: pour into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s directions.
Gourmet Popsicles: pour into a Popsicle mold and freeze.
Granita: pour into one or more shallow plastic containers and freeze for four hours, stirring with a fork every 30 minutes to make sure the ice crystals have a uniform texture. (Granita is an early Sicilian form of “ice cream” still enjoyed in fancy restaurants for its simplicity, elegance and crunchy texture.)