#TweakYourTea: Three Pure Leaf Tea Cocktails for the Summer

If you didn't know, my drink of choice is whisky. I got converted two years ago when I hit a plateau with wine. I definitely couldn't go back to tequila or vodka since those just reminded me of how *great* I handled my alcohol during university. Instead, I longed for something with a kick, not too sweet, and will last me throughout the night. Luckily whisky came along, and we've been close friends ever since. 

I prefer to take my whisky neat with an occasional twist especially in the winter but now that Toronto weather is getting up to the 20's, I'm craving for more color and fruitier flavour. Over the weekend, I decided to challenge myself to making my own cocktails at home using Pure Leaf Tea's Unsweetened Lemon, Green Tea & Black Tea. Pure Leaf is brewed from real tea leaves picked at their freshest to deliver a genuine tea experience. Their latest unsweetened portfolio has 0 sugar, 0 artificial and 0 calories. I am not a fan of overly sweet drinks in general so this unsweetened option fits well, giving me full control over the amount of sugar in my cocktails. In tweaking these teas, I came up with three iced tea cocktails that would keep whisky lovers like me refreshed this summer: Strawberry Basil Whisky Sour, Blackberry Whisky Lemon Fizz, and a Whisky Green Tea Palmer. I've shared the recipes below--try them out!

Strawberry Basil Whisky Sour

12 fresh strawberries
3 to 4 basil leaves
3 ounces Pure Leaf Unsweetened Black Tea
3 ounces whisky
3 ounces lime juice
honey or syrup to taste

Use a muddle to smash strawberries and basil leaves together. Combine with the rest of the ingredients in a large shaker. Add a handful of ice cubes. Shake to combine and chill drinks. Pour over ice into glasses and serve.

Blackberry Whisky Lemon Fizz

1 cup blackberries
large sprig rosemary
3 ounces Pure Leaf Unsweetened Lemon Tea
3 ounces whisky
3 ounces lemon juice
honey or syrup to taste

Use a muddle to smash blackberries and rosemary. Combine with the rest of the ingredients in a large shaker. Add a handful of ice cubes. Shake to combine and chill drinks. Pour over ice into glasses and serve.

Whisky Green Tea Palmer

3 ounces Pure Leaf Unsweetened Green Tea
honey or agave nectar to taste
1 to 2 ounces choice of whisky
1/2 ounce freshly-squeezed lemon juice
Lemon wedge, for garnish

Combine green tea, honey, whisky and lemon juice in a shaker filled with ice. Shake and strain into a glass filled with ice. Garnish with the lemon wedge and enjoy.

How to Make Super Easy Congee

 
 

Is it just me or did summer forget to say goodbye? I feel like the temperature dropped all of a sudden and I'm here still figuring out which box I stuffed my coats in. My wardrobe isn't ready, you guys...

What I am ready for is more soup-based meals! To be honest, I hardly make stews and soups because I'm more of a dry-heat cooker. I prefer quick dishes, those I can whip in 10 minutes, cause with this city life nobody got time for slow cooking.

But yesterday's windy weather demanded for something warm and earthy. I found a simple congee recipe and decided to give it a go. I could use some downtime. I was supposed to make Filipino Arroz Caldo but I didn't have chicken so I improvised with frozen shrimp for protein. Homemade lugaw (rice porridge) with shrimp it is! 

It was my first time making congee and I just want to say: WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME. It was so easy and didn't take as I thought it would. More importantly, this recipe was budget-friendly! Pantry items aside (i.e. seasoning, fish sauce, olive oil), the rest of the ingredients would total to about $8 and make at least 4 servings. (I'll break down the exact cost later.) That's a pretty good deal! 

 
 

olive oil

1 med onion, minced

5 pcs garlic, crushed

1 knob of ginger, sliced

1 tbsp fish sauce

1 carton (900 mL) chicken broth

1 cup uncooked white rice

juice of 1/2 lime

green onions, chopped

2 pcs garlic, minced and fried

hard-boiled eggs, sliced (optional)

shrimp, pan-fried (optional)

salt and pepper

place a dash of olive oil in a medium-sized stockpot over medium-high heat. once oil is hot, add minced onion, crushed garlic and sliced ginger. cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened but not browned (about 5 minutes).

stir in fish sauce and cook for 1 minute.

add rice (i used jasmine) and stir until well coated.

stir in chicken stock. make sure to run a spoon along the bottom to release any browned bits. bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. cover and cook until rice is completely tender and stock has thickened (about 20 minutes).

stir in lime juice and season with salt and pepper to taste.

laddle congee into bowls. top with chopped green onions, fried garlic bits, pan-fried shrimp and egg slices (if using). 

serve immediately with additional lime wedges on the side.