Before I met Simon the only tea I drank was jasmine tea at yum cha or the occasional cup of green tea in a Japanese restaurant. The tea that featured in my life growing up was a milky English Breakfast and it held no appeal at all. Simon, however, is a tea freak. He reads up on all the benefits of different herbal teas and his collection includes everything from South African rooibos to white teas to chai blends. When we moved to Melbourne he came with an entire box of teas which he thought merited an entire kitchen cupboard of their own (so not enough cupboards in our kitchen for one dedicated to tea).
Under his influence, I slowly began to venture into the world of tea, although it took him ages to get me to try the liquorice root, his favourite. I hate liquorice, and have always hated anything aniseed flavoured (even before the Sambuca incident) so I was reticent to give it a go. Liquorice root, however, tastes nothing like liquorice, rather it is a natural (calorie free!) sweetener. The trick is the more you boil the root in the water the more it releases the sweetness. We have a special glass Eva Solo teapot that can be used safely on a stove (and that also happens to be stunning – thanks again Nordic design) . If you don’t want to splash out for a sexy Dane, Asian Grocers often stock Chinese teapots that can also be boiled on a stove or hot plate.
In addition to being a natural sweetener, liquorice root is known for healing mouth ulcers, curing colds and coughs, is meant to be able to help you quit smoking and even relieve the symptoms of menopause amongst a million other things. However, I just love it for the sweetness. Unfortunately, liquorice root can be tricky to find. Most tea shops don’t stock it at all or if they do they only have it in a blend. We used to buy ours from the Queen Victoria market but the tea seller has been out of stock for almost a year. We now order it direct from Green Valley Spices in Sydney, who will give you a discount if you order in bulk (by bulk I mean we order two kilos at a time – yes we love our liquorice root!).
But enough about the liquorice! While it is a fabulous sweeetner, it doesn’t have a strong flavour on its own so it is best paired with other teas. At work I mix it with a chai blend for my morning cup of tea. Below is our evening tea recipe, which we have honed over the last few years. We love it so much we now make a giant pot every evening. Our mix includes peppermint, for calm and relaxation, nettle, to aid iron absorption, and a cinnamon stick, purely for deliciousness.
Liquorice Root and Peppermint Tea
1 tablespoon liquorice root
1 tablespoon of peppermint tea (or 2 peppermint teabags)
1 teaspoon nettle tea
1 cinnamon stick
Put all your ingredients in a big teapot of water (about 4 cups) and boil on the stove for 5-10 minutes on a low heat to release the sweetness of the liquorice. The tea will darken as it boils, we take ours off the stove when it is a rich golden colour.