On winter mornings, still warm from bed, cuddling up in a blanket at the breakfast table when it’s only 12C in the room. On winter afternoons, stuck in the house while the freezing rain falls outside, or on winter evenings, when the fire in the chimney fails to ignite properly… These are just a few occasions when a cup of something hot is
exactly what you need.
I choose one of my carefully selected extra large big mugs (I prefer them slender and tall, not too thick around the edge, and preferably with a lid to keep the contents warm), and then I decide on what to fill it with.
Ever since I was a child I’ve hated milk. Learning that most adults cannot properly digest milk because of a lack of the enzyme lactase fully explained why. Nevertheless, I love hot chocolate, as long as it doesn’t taste like milk 😉 So mine is made with lots of dark cocoa powder, some dark chocolate, a pinch of flour (to make it creamier), and a teaspoon of sugar. Often I make a xololatl (Aztec chocolate) inspired version, adding a tiny pinch of chilli or a Christmassy version with powdered cinnamon, clove and ginger. It is heavenly, so I save it for Special Occasions or when guests visit ☺
Back in the seventies, my Japanese student dorm room friend introduced me to green tea and I instantly became an addict of genmaicha. I still love it, but since then my range has broadened, and besides the exquisite (and very expensive) Japanese teas like sencha or bancha, French tea store chain Palais des Thés has some very nice flavored green teas, of which the thé du Hammam always fills me with warm happiness.
This kind of tea is neither green nor black, and also one of my big favourites. A home-made version of it is the so-called “Ivan Chai”, which I made out of willow-herb leaves
last summer. Try it, it’s a stunner!
You can use an immense range of plant parts for herbal teas, everything from aniseed to yarrow and I sometimes make mixtures. The “pectoral tea”, a mix of ¼ Tsp of fennel seeds, dried thyme, and chopped licorice root, is a winter favourite, good against dry mucus membranes, when you’ve got a cough or other chest problems.
So, whenever you feel a bit tired, chilly or out of sorts: warm up some milk (preferably a non-dairy variety, like hemp, oat, or almond milk) or put the kettle on and make yourself a hot cup of something fragrant, comforting and restoring ☺
( This blog post was inspired by a little contest on the Instagram account of @unterseecafé, a group of illustrators, to draw your own cup – see below!)