I used to drink coffee much less as a ritual than as an obsessive compulsion to get me through my long work schedule. These days I much prefer a cup of tea to start the day, and this particular one is great first thing in the morning, the mint having mild stimulant effects and the spices offering a punch of bright, earthy flavors. On top of the big flavor, this small cup is packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. When you finish your cup, don’t forget to eat the goji berries. They’ll help protect your eyes, scavenge free radicals and generally boost your immune system.
- 1/4 cup dried mint leaves and stems, broken slightly between your fingers. (You can use fresh mint, too. 3/4 of a cup of washed leaves and stems should do the trick. Tear the leaves a touch and cut the stems into 1/2 inch pieces before infusing with the seeds.)
- 1 1/4 tsp fennel seeds
- 3/4 tsp coriander seeds
- 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
- 5 goji berries
- 1 slice of lemon
With a mortar and pestle or spice grinder, crack the seeds slightly with just a couple of crushes or pulses, but do not turn into a powder. Add the mint leaves and stems, fennel, coriander and cumin seeds to your favorite tea infusing device. Heat water to just under boiling and infuse tea with for 4 minutes. Add the goji berries to a tea cup and pour tea over the berries. Serve with a slice of lemon.
If you want to take your tea ritual a little further, consider drying your own mint. It’s quite easy and I find the act just as soothing as the resulting tea. Simply gather the stems together and tie together with a long piece of twine. Hang the bunch of mint upside down in a warm, dry spot ten days to 2 weeks. Once dry, store in an airtight container at room temperature.
Matthew Downes has a fondness for seasonal vegetables, bringing global flavors to local tables, and eschewing the status quo. A graduate of Wesleyan University and The Natural Gourmet Institute, he ran the pastry program at New York’s Pure Food and Wine and served as the opening chef de cuisine at Broadway East. Later, he was in charge of developing a line of sorbets, dairy ice creams, and coconut-based ice creams for Steve’s Craft Ice Cream, now sold at Whole Foods stores nationwide. As a private chef, he has cooked for celebrities such as Julian Schnabel and Bill Clinton, and has worked in kitchens on four continents, most recently spending time at DOM in São Paulo.