Infusion... There is something about that word which is close to magical. It is a bit like a wise woman or a druid or let us go in a fairy tale kingdom where Witches knew how to make a good brew with some herbs...
Chives, Mint and Rosemary from our Garden Pot.
Or let us stay down to Earth to first speak of Tea, for the good old Tea is an infusion. It comes from the Camellia plants which has been ever since hybridized to ever create a refined tea for, believe it or not, Tea was the drink of the slaves...
The Wise Man.
A very long time ago of course (We are talking of BC there) until it was appreciated by the well to do who couldn't get enough of it. Then the story of Tea could fill leaves of books with the history of their dried leaves which is a very popular infusion worldwide...
Wake up Call, Warming up Call!
Once upon a time, on a very, very cold day, with fingers almost frosted, a Chinese man had the idea to warm them up by holding a cup of water. As it was cold, it was melting snow in a pot or a hollow bamboo stick over a make shift fire. (There is a technique for it). As the traveller needed more than water to carry on going, walking through the snow, he decided to put leaves of an evergreen bush still alive despite the cold weather. The bush is strong, it will give me strength, he thought. So his numbing fingers took some leaves of the Camellia bush and put it in the melting snow inside the bamboo recipient. And Something magical happened. Snow melt into water. Fingers got warmer and the scent relieved the man during his trial. Tea was there, created and warming not only his fingers, but his entire body so he could carry on. Just carry on. He did. He made it to the next village alive and well. He delivered his message which was due and told the tale that how he managed to survive the cold weather... It was with Tea.
The Mug, the Cuppa became part of our lives.
Then Tea, and Camellia Plants became a beverage to turn to in times of need or entertainment. For times of needs, Tea does give you a boost because it does contain Caffeine, which is associated with energy. By experience I know it to the point that I hardly couldn't sleep when I was working in a coffee shop to pay for my University fees. You do get the eyes wide opened with Caffeine, as for sleep, it is another matter. It is the stare at the ceiling and awake without sleep when your alarm bell rings to go either back to work or university.
Basicaly Tea can mean a get up and lets get going for the day but also the time when we have finished the working hours and take a tea break. I may say BS here but this is why we do have the conception of the stronger Breakfast Tea and the one of the Afternoon Tea.
Strong Black Tea with a spoonfull of Sugar for Breakfast, for Me, Please.
The Breakfast Tea is like Popeye having his tin of Spinach to get on with it and fight. (RIP René Coué, The living sosie of Popeye, from Cherbourg who died in 2014).
Cooking with Spinach.
Speaking about Spinach, you can infuse water with it for two to four hours along with Strawberries for a healthy Summer drink. You can also take a nice oil, virgin Olive Oil and infuse it with Spinach and Basil to give it a nice flavour for a Summery Salad involving Tomatoes and Mozzarella Cheese. Two to four hours will infuse the oil which you can use up to a week.
Greek Basil which has a lovely Aroma to it.
Now the Afternoon Tea is not as much as an individual affair, it is not a get up and go to work and shut up, the Tea of the afternoon is the one you enjoy: The 'Chillax' Time (Blend of Chill and Relax, word created by the Scottish five year old Aiofe). You can have a seat and catch up with others about their days. So this time, it is chat time, you enjoy the rest of the day, it the start of the evening. The 'what did you do during your day?'. Of course it can be very enjoyably gossipy. But to unleash the tongue to tell what happened feels good.
It doesn't mean that you can say anything and everything. No! There is a standard at that time of the day, a sort of etiquette as per say. Of course we all want to hear the latest news but we will have to behave like Primroses in the mist when we have knowledge of them. A little bit of 'Oh No!' is appropriate, a little bit of Standing up 'We have to do something' is deemed as a move too far.
Bribery and corruption is the word of the day at this time of the day. You indulge someone with what is happening, but you have to behave about it or being mild mannered about it and you get a very nice tea session. A cake of some sort helps to keep every mouth filled up so much that no one will argue with each other. Everyone leaves in a polite manner aware of a lot of things and mainly keeping their minds for themselves. But the news, words are passed forward to lots of households in the neighbourhood.
Carrot and Walnut Tea Cake.
Something can remind you of Lewis Caroll and the Mad Hatter's tea Party there, but let us go to the sweet delicacies which can go with a late afternoon Tea: Cake, Cup Cakes, Tea Cakes... Something to keep you definitely sweet.
Alice in Wonderland.
Tea Parties are social events, maybe we could call them theTweeters tweeting about anything since the Nineteenth century era. Anyhow, it is all about talking about everything and nothing around a cup of tea to make sense of the day with one another, hence together. A crucial part is to make the party going with a little warmth and comfort which makes you feel at home. Of course an infused beverage is the main event, a tea, a coffee, a hot chocolate, a cordial... and to add to the confusion I will say a cocktail. We are closing up for the day and making up of what it was.
The tradition of having a biscuit, sandwich or a cake for Tea came later. It is a little like keeping up with the Joneses. So to serve something by the side of your infusion became a 'Je ne sais quoi' which dragged people by your home and then you can get the latest gossip.
A Fruits of the Forest Heart Pie in the Making.
The technicality of an infusion is rather easy but its taste is due to the treatment of its ingredients and the choice of them. First, you can infuse either within Water, Oil or Alcohol. By choice but I haven't got the infuse science, pardon me the pun, I will boil water before using it. For Oil or Alcohol, I just leave the infusion to be alive with time.
Creating Chilli Oil from the dried Chillies from our Garden.
For example creating Chilli Oil takes a while if you do it all or almost all from scratch, but it is worth your while. I can only advise you if you want a little spice in your life to put a little seed of a Chilli, the one of your choice in the soil of a pot and to see what you do get from it. It is like a little scheme, a little adventure of your own. Thinking on Journalistic terms, you must switch on the 5 Ws but also the H.
First it is the When and it goes hand in hand with the How: You must know when your seed has the most chances to grow, like between this month and that one. Later it is like praying miracles growth but they can happen.
A potted Cayenne Chilli plant.
From experience, I will say from December to March, seed in, kept indoors during those months, you will have a fair chance to have a good crop of chillies later during the year. Keep them safe, in a bright spot and warm enough, hence out of the frost.
Second come the Where: Where do I put my Chilli? I will say indoors when it is cold outside and outdoors when the sun is shining and warming up during the Summer. But keep it out of a place which is too windy or can become so.
A Cayenne Chilli Plant being lush and indoors during a cold Summer.
Then at the very beginning you have to ask yourself the Who question (Number 3): Which Chilli or plant do you want to grow? We had this question this morning with my partner about trying to grow a Tea bush, a new endeavour of ours. He went for the Camellia Sinnensis when I went for the hybrid Camellia Japonica, 'Jury's Yellow' just for the pretty flowers. He went for the Tea which have chances to be good instead of trying the wild card and giving it a chance... Matter of choice and opinion or giving something a chance. Anyhow Cayenne Chilli Peppers has our votes almost every year.
Growing Cayenne Peppers.
The last two W questions are the What and Why left to answer. For the Why I would reply straight away for the pleasure of it. As for the What I will answer the same. Because those chillies can transform a dish to the next level. Use them dried to do a Chilli Oil infusion, drizzle on Pasta, Pizza or Salad whenever you want to and those babies will make you sing.