Summer calls for slowing down and savoring warm breezes and backyard sunsets. I try to slip in a few quiet moments of tea and a nibble in the early evening. Consider it my personal pre-dinner party. Searching for the perfect snack, I craved a tea infused jelly to dab on a few crackers. An admirer of Food in Jars, an incredible canning blog crafted by my friend Marisa McClellan, I hoped to collaborate on this tea-infused sweet treat.
This past Friday, not even the pouring rain could dampen my mood as I skipped over to Marisa's apartment with a tote bag full of oolong tea. A few nights before our canning collaboration, Marisa sent me an email noting that the Peach was the chosen fruit. After a quick tasting journey through my tea cabinet, I selected lightly roasted oolongs with subtle floral, sweet notes to complement the fragrant fruit.
As I walked into her apartment and canning studio, my taste buds jumped for joy in anticipation of the creative afternoon ahead. After sharing tasting notes and taking a few quick whiffs of the oolong leaves, we selected Mighty Leaf's Orchid Oolong. When steeped alone, the Orchid Oolong is smooth and subtly nutty with delicate floral and coconut notes.
Starting with a simple syrup, we steeped 4 of the premium leaf tea bags in the sugared water. The tea infused simple syrup alone was splendid, and we both agreed that we should make another batch in the future to add to a pitcher of iced tea. A guest in Marisa's kitchen and jelly newbie, I assumed the peach chopping duty as I watched her make magic in the large pot on the stove. We removed the tea bags and added the sweet summer peaches to the pot. While simmering for ten minutes, the syrup transformed into a rosy red shade that shimmered with sweetness.
After straining the peaches, we steeped another pouch of Orchid Oolong to balance the tea and peach flavors. The aroma in the kitchen lifted my spirits and made me forget the gloom and thunder looming beyond the window. Marisa slowly poured in the pectin as I attempted to whisk it in like a master jelly maker before bringing it to a bubbling 220 degrees, and then removing it from the flame. She gracefully poured the jelly into the beautiful ball jars and placed them in boiling water to seal.
Days later, I had finally found a few moments of quiet time. I slipped into the garden to enjoy a dab or two (ok, maybe 10) on a few delicate crackers while sipping an iced glass of Orchid Oolong. The fragrant jelly was full of aromatic flavors. The peach was punchy, but I could still taste the subtle floral, nutty and coconut notes quietly singing in the background of my taste buds.
Inspired by a wonderful jelly escapade with Marisa, I hope that we can collaborate on more sweet, tea-infused creation in the future. Maybe a masala chai pear or sencha cherry? The possibilities are endless...and delicious. Many thanks to Marisa for letting me in on her wonderful world of canning and sharing her expertise with me.
For the full recipe, keep reading and jump over to Marisa's wondrous blog for photos and a second story.
Peach Oolong Jelly
Makes 1 1/4 pints
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
5 bags Orchid Oolong tea
4 large peaches, sliced
2 tablespoons powdered pectin
Prepare two 1/2 pint jars and one 1/4 pint jar. Bring a boiling water bath to a boil.
In a large pot, combine sugar and water. Bring to a simmer and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Add four tea bag to pot and let them simmer for five minutes.
When time is up, remove tea bags and add sliced peaches. Let simmer for approximately ten minutes, tasting regularly to monitor the intensity of flavor. When the balance of peach and oolong tastes good to you, strain the liquid through a fine mesh sieve, pressing gently on peaches to remove as much liquid as possible.
Return syrup to pot and add two tablespoons powdered pectin. Bring to a rapid boil and monitor temperature. When the jelly liquid reached approximately 220 degrees, it is done.
Remove pot from heat and pour jelly into prepared jars. Wipe rims, apply lids and rings and process in a boiling water canner for ten minutes.
When time is up, remove jars from canner and let cool on a dish towel. When jars are cool, remove rings and test seal. Store any unsealed jars in the refrigerator. Unopened jars of jelly will keep on the shelf for up to one year.