By Jo Cooksey
As I write this the mercury is topping 30°C or 84°F in old money, and we are all reaching for copious, thirst quenching drinks. Possibly a cocktail, a little wine or a beer? But have you thought of tea? I don’t mean the national institution that is the hot brown stuff served with milk. No, I’m talking about sunny, fruity and floral iced versions from specialist tea mixologists, Bird & Blend
Spreading Happiness Through Tea
Bird & Blend are a young, dynamic company, based in Brighton but with tea shops in 8 UK locations, including in Manchester’s Northern Quarter. They are spreading happiness using their innovative and award-winning tea blends. This isn’t the place to go to if you want a quarter of straight up Earl Grey or Lapsang Souchong Instead they do an excellent Builders’ Breakfast Brew and a delicate Earl Grey Creme plus other exciting loose-leaf blends with names like Peach Soda, Mango Tulsi, Cherry Bakewell and Gingerbread Chai. If tea is your thing then you have found your Shangri-La with Bird & Blend. In the winter months I swear by their Cold Weather Warrior, a herbal blend of echinacea, eucalyptus, aniseed, chilli and peppermint, to help keep colds at bay. In fact, there are over 70 blends, not to mention their amazing matchas, tea tools, pantry provisions and gifts. Visiting Bird & Blend online or in a physical shop is tea heaven.
Using Tea in Your Cooking
We love drinking Bird & Blend teas, but we also love cooking with it. The Summer range of teas are particularly great for creating glorious puds. For instance, I use their Eton Mess tea to create a jelly, that once set, I serve with meringues, berries and whipped cream. Totally yummy and because Eton mess doesn’t contain any black tea you just end up with a jelly of fruity lovliness. I recently developed a recipe around Bird & Blend’s Blueberry Key Lime tea. We love to eat a Key Lime Pie here at TT Towers and we also love a cheesecake. Well, lets be honest, who doesn’t? So below is the recipe that takes the best elements of those and throws in some Bird & Blend tea for good measure. Several friends and colleagues tried it and all of them declared it be gorgeous. Especially the zest, fruity jelly layer that was laced with Bird & Blend tea.
Give Bird & Blend a go, take a pic of your brew and share it on social media. Don’t forget to tag Taste Today and Bird & Blend in.
Bird & Blend Manchester is open and you can find the store in the Northern Quarter at 57 Church St, Manchester M4 1PD. Opening hours Mon to Sat 11 to 4pm
RECIPE - BLUEBERRY KEY LIME CHEESECAKE
• 220g gingernut biscuits
• 125g unsalted butter, melted
• 600g cream cheese (full fat)
• 100g icing sugar
• 2 limes, zested and juiced (save the juice to use in the glaze)
• 300ml double cream, whipped to soft peaks
• 4 gelatine leaves (I haven’t tried it with a vegetarian alternative but give it a go and let me know).
• 100g caster sugar
• 3 limes, zested and juiced (+ the juice of the 2 previous limes)
1. Crumb the biscuits by putting them in a clean plastic bag and battering them with a rolling pin or whizzing in a food processor
2. . Mix with the melted butter, then press into the base of a pre-greased, 20cm springform cake tin. I always put an oiled circle of greaseproof paper in the bottom of the tin to stop the biscuit mixture welding itself to the bottom. Chill in the fridge until needed.
3. . Combine the cream cheese, icing sugar and lime zest in a bowl, then beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Tip in the softly whipped double cream and continue beating until thoroughly combined. Spoon the mixture onto the chilled biscuit base in the tin. Make sure the mixture goes right up to the edges to ensure the jelly doesn’t drip down. Smooth the top of the cheesecake and put in the fridge to set
4. It will take a couple of hours. When set make the jelly. Soak the gelatine leaves in cold water. Set a saucepan with 200ml of water on the stove and add the other ingredients. Simmer gently until the sugar has dissolved and the syrup is simmering. Lift the softened gelatine sheets out the cold water and squeeze out any excess water. Drop them in to the hot syrup and stir until dissolved. Leave until tepid and BEFORE the jelly has set, then strain into a jug. Leave for another half an hour or until cool to the touch and then pour over the cheesecake and put back in the fridge overnight to set.
5. Carefully remove the cheesecake from the tin before serving. You can loosen the sides of the tin with a blowtorch or a tea towel soaked in hot water. But be careful, it doesn’t take much to loosen it and you don’t want melted jelly and cheesecake.
Serve to much applause and oohs and ahhs. Or just keep it all to yourself. I don’t know if this freezes well because it’s never been round long enough to try.