mate chocolate tea with Jamaican bun and cheese

I had read about drinking chocolate tea to satisfy food cravings–especially the late-night kind! To me, anything chocolate is good. I noticed that a new gourmet spice and tea shop opened on Broadway called Spices and Tease (between 97th  and 98th Streets) so I wandered in to check it out. Maxim, the proprietor, introduced me to mate chocolate tea. It was his last stash for the next two weeks but he sold it to me. He promised me that it would get darker the longer it steeped but it would not get bitter. He’s right. It has the most wonderful guilt-free chocolate smell and a slight bitter taste reminiscent of dark chocolate. A mate (pronounced ma-teh) is a South American herbal tea made from the leaves of the yerba mate. And I discovered it’s a wonderful accompaniment to bun and cheese, an Easter tradition in Jamaica.

Speaking of which, my cousin Anne Marie contributed this recipe for a stout bun. She writes: “SweetPea LOVES this bun recipe which I got from my cousin Debbie, so I have not made it in several years because he tends to eat all but the one or two slices I manage to save for myself!!!  Sweetie says that if I don’t make it, he won’t be tempted but you know, I think I’ll surprise him with it next month for his 65th!!!!!!!!! Birthday.” So, as an added bonus, here is Anne Marie’s recipe for

Jamaican Spice Bun

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar;
2 teaspoons melted butter;
2 teaspoons golden syrup or honey;
2 teaspoons mixed spice (cinnamon, nutmeg & mace in equal parts.  I made up a small jar to save myself the trouble for future buns);
1 cup of stout (I love Guinness);
3 cups all purpose flour;
3 tsp baking powder;
1 cup mixed glacé fruits (I add extra glacé cherries);
1 large egg (or 2 medium eggs)

Preparation

1.  Preheat oven to 400˚F
2.  In a small saucepan, dissolve sugar, butter, syrup/honey & spices in the stout on low heat
3.  Mix flour, baking powder and fruit
4.  Beat eggs & mix all ingredients together
5.  Put in greased and parchment lined (9×5 inch) loaf tin
6.  Bake approximately 1 hour

This recipe makes one loaf of spice bun. Sam, I hope Anne Marie makes this for your birthday next month– and for any other occasion.

Jamaican mint-ginger tea

When I was a girl in Jamaica, my mother used to make this tea. I had forgotten how good it is because it’s not the same as a peppermint tea, which I abhor. I had a bunch of mint sitting in the fridge. After chiffonading a few of the leaves for a tzatziki sauce I was left with the problem of what to do with the rest. Solution: mint-ginger tea!

2 cups fresh mint leaves with stems, washed and picked over
1 1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and crushed
4 cups boiling water
sugar, optional

I cut off the brown tips on the leaves and trimmed the stems. Then I put the mint and ginger in a one-quart saucepan. After pouring boiling water all over the leaves and ginger, I covered the pan and heated it over medium high heat.  When it came to a boil, I turned off the heat. I strained the tea into a tea pot.  You can sweeten it to taste if you wish. The leaves and ginger can be used again. Not sure how many times they can be re-used but I got two pots of tea out of them!

Jamaican Mint-Ginger Tea