It’s getting close to that time of year when thumping watermelons is an acceptable sport, gauging their ripeness and readiness to be cleaved, peeled, seeded, and chunked. What does all of this have to do with tea? It’s this: a simple sweet-tasting pitcher of green tea, perhaps a sencha (go light when brewing the tea, probably 1-2 grams per 8 oz of water at 170 degrees F., for 1 minute or two, and then cooled and chilled) is complexed and jazzed-up when the tea is pureed with fresh watermelon. Trust me. Here’s how to do it:
Freeze the watermelon chunks, placed in a container with a tight-fitting lid and then whirl them with the tea in a high-powered blender or watertight food processor for a rewarding slushy texture. To my taste, the sweetness of a good watermelon is all the tea needs to be mellowed but not overwhelmed. But If you crave a sweeter beverage, add a bit of lime syrup to taste. This is simply made by boiling equal quantities by weight of white sugar and water until you have a syrup that is only slightly thickened. Add in a good slug of freshly squeezed lime juice (1/4 c. per pint of syrup) and toss in some freshly grated zest of lime. This concoction keeps well in a covered glass jar for close to a week, ready for those times when you wish to add zing to any summer fruit (nectarines, plums, peaches, cantaloupe, honeydew) that needs some brightening.
Oh, and speaking of cantaloupes, when they come into your local farmer’s market, be ready with some brewed black Chinese tea, particularly Keemun, with its slightly smoky earthy quality which marries beautifully with dead-ripe fruit. Whirl the fruit in a blender with equal parts of the tea and a few ice cubes (perhaps made from some of that brewed tea) until you have a pleasantly grainy granita texture. Scoop into a sundae glass or tea mug and spoon a dollop a bit of slightly sweetened softly whipped cream over it. Indulge with your favorite moist chewy ginger molasses cookie. This is heaven in a glass and on a plate on a hot summer’s day.