CINCINNATI - Years ago when we started Cooking with Caitlin, we had the opportunity to participate in the summer Tuesday markets on Fountain Square.
On just about every level, it was a huge deal for us. Each week we prepped ingredients for hundreds, hauled a huge grill to the middle of the city, and served up burger after burger, each with a wedge of juicy watermelon, for three hours of lunchtime. I loved the time I got to flex my creative muscle with unexpected burger designs, and Kelly loved getting to meet so many hungry Cincinnatians.
Together we also had the chance to learn about, and meet the owners of, all sorts of small businesses like our own. It was down on the Square, over a couple summers, where we fell in love with Donna’s Gourmet Cookies, Eli’s BBQ, and Taste of Belgium’s authentic Belgian waffle, to name a few.
With adjoining tents, we got to know the wonderful team behind Essencha Tea House, too. As we wrapped each market, in fact, Kelly and I looked forward to the pair of bubble teas they would pour for us to savor on the way home.
Prior to our Tuesdays together, everything I knew about tea came from a Snapple commercial. After our summer series beside each other, however, I was anxious to learn much more about enjoying and cooking with tea.
I have made it my business, ever since that Essencha summer on the Square, to play with tea throughout the year. Steeped into creamy carrot soup, or infused into rich maple syrup, tea adds a level of flavor and complexity to just about any recipe. Of course, it shines all on its own too.
Mint Tea Floats
I like this treat best in the afternoons of these hot August days, but it makes a delicious little dessert too. I’ve suggested the flavors that are most refreshing to me right now: lemon, mint, and strawberry. I invite you, however, to choose a complimentary combination of flavors that sounds good to you; consider layering orange sorbet, black tea, and curls of fresh zest, or a stone fruit sorbet, chai tea, and a spoonful of sliced ripe peaches.
Tips + Tricks:
Start with this basic recipe and play with all sorts of teas. Take time with your favorite purveyor of teas – besides Essencha in Oakley, you might visit The Spice & Tea Exchange in Norwood, or Churchill’s Fine Teas at Findlay Market – to learn more about which teas you like, and which teas will fit well in your end-of-summer menus.
- 1 pint Lemon Sorbet
- 2-3 cups Mint Tea
- 1/2 pint Fresh Strawberries
- Steep your tea. Let it come to room temperature or cool in the refrigerator, depending on what temperature you prefer when the float is served.
- Clean, stem, and quarter the strawberries.
- Assemble the floats: Scoop the sorbet into glasses. Pour the tea over each scoop, and garnish with strawberries. Add a spoon and serve right away.
Prep Time: 10 Minutes Steep Time: 5 Minutes Yields: 4-8 Portions
(Photos by Cara Hummel Photography)