A Lovin' Cupful
I was super excited to get my copy of Adrianna Adarme's "The Year of Cozy" in the mail. I had downloaded the Kindle version, but that doesn't do the book justice. With 200+ pages of recipes, crafts, and great photographs, I was ready to dig in and get my hands busy.
I already marked the pages for fruit sugars and as dumb luck would have it, The Market @ Beatrix at Northwestern Hospital had freeze-dried fruit on hand. Too bad I ate the first bag - freeze-dried raspberries tick so many boxes for me: the nostalgia of childhood cereal, the crisp-crunchiness of popcorn; the powdery-pucker of SweeTarts candies. I had to go back and pick up a few bags for my evening project.
Luckily, fruit sugars are a simple DIY and what we're going to make is a fun and heartwarming gift that takes little effort, materials, and time. In case you're wondering, fruit sugars aren't deceiving: it's just fruit combined with sugar. We can keep everything in its fun, powdery form by using freeze-dried fruit. You will need: a blender or food processor, 1/2 cup of freeze dried fruit (I chose raspberry and strawberry), 1 cup of granulated white sugar, and A Year of Cozy calls for 1/8 teaspoon of water, but you can omit it, depending on your tastes.
Initially, I chose to make rosy raspberry sugar because I love roses and raspberries. Then it struck me to make some tea mixes - I am a huge fan of the T2 Green Rose tea, and I make my friend Yvonne act as my tea mule and bring me big tins of it from Australia.
A few years ago a friend brought me a gallon sized bag of Maojian green tea after visiting China. I've yet to use it all. I'm going to make a similar kind of tea to the Green Rose, which uses sencha as its base. You can use dried rose petals that you can get from your local tea shop, or order from Amazon if you want to toss a few pennies my way.
Dump your fruit into your blender and whizz until it turns into a powder. You might have to do this a few times, shaking the mix in between to eliminate clumps.
I added my cup of sugar right in with my fruit and whizzed it a few more times to get a uniform mixture instead of adding a bit of water and rubbing the sugar and fruit together. My method results in almost a powdered sugar, if you like that. Otherwise, for a more granulated sugar, rub the the sugar and fruit together with a tiny bit of water, then spread it out on a sheet to air dry.
I think this will make a lovely, lightly sweetened ice tea mix. In a mason jar, layer the tea, rose petals, and fruit sugar according to your tastes. I used a ratio of 1.5 parts fruit sugar to 1 part tea and .5 rose petals.
I made several layers for the pretty sand art look, but one layer of each is sufficient. Layer the ingredients loosely; eventually you will shake it all up to get a bit of each component when you make a cuppa tea.
Finally, include a handwritten note on how to brew. Green tea needs water that is hot, but not boiling (~180º F), and only needs to be steeped for 1-3 minutes, else it goes bitter. It's lovely as a hot tea, but would be delicious iced. You could even package a few tea bags with a ribbon or a tea ball as a gift.
If you have leftover sugar, you can use it as a drink mix in small amounts, enjoy it sprinkled over a plain yogurt, or try it in a creme brûlée— I'd love to hear how that turns out!