Sunday, May 20, 2007

All Set

The weather in Singapore has been kind of wreaking havoc on our health. It can be hot and sunny on one day, and the next we have torrential rains causing fallen trees all over the island. It certainly doesn’t help that there is a flu bug circulating. Most of my colleagues have been ‘taking their turns’ to fall ill with flu, sore throat and fever that lasts longer than usual.

I have not succumbed to the bug, at least not yet *touch wood*. But to ‘take precautions’, I boiled some herbal tea using chrysanthemum flowers this weekend.

In traditional chinese medicine, chrysanthemum tea is said to be a ‘medicinal’ tea which has a ‘cooling’ effect on the body, thus helping in the recovery from sore throat, cough etc. For myself, although I don’t believe in this totally, I do like chrysanthemum tea mainly because it’s a refreshing drink.

There are several varieties of chrysanthemum which can be used for making ‘tea’, and they are usually dried. This is the 杭菊 (pronouce Hang Ju), which I used.

Besides drinking the tea on its own, I also made some agar agar jelly. Agar agar is a gelatine extracted from seaweed, with similar effects to gelatine obtained from animal-by products. But its biggest advantage is that agar agar can set at room temperature, without the need for refrigeration. It is also more commonly used in Asian cooking, and as a substitute for gelatine for vegetarians/muslims.

To make these chrysanthemum tea jelly, you’ll need to make the tea first using:

40-50g dried chrysanthemum flowers, rinsed with some water
2.5 litres water

Place flowers and water in a pot and bring to a boil. Lower heat and steep(leave lid slightly opened) for 30-45 mins. Turn off heat and sieve out the flowers(press on the flowers as they would have absorb some liquid). What is left behind should be a light yellow tea, about 1 to 1.5 litres

For the agar agar:

1 litre chrysanthemum tea
1 packet of agar agar powder, unflavoured (I used ‘Swallow” brand)
Sugar to taste

I just prepared the agar according to the instructions on the packet. Then I poured them into jelly moulds and left them to set overnight in the refrigerator. Just a note, I find that it is better to add slightly more sugar than required, because then the jelly would turn out just right. Mine were not sweet as I did not add enough sugar.

These jellys make a light, refreshing dessert after a heavy meal. I’m contributing them to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Rinku of Cooking in Westchester. Do head over to her place for the re-cap, and also to Kalyn’s Kitchen to find out more on WHB’s rules and who’s hosting for the week.


sher said...

Oh, how beautiful. This would be just perfect on a hot day, after a heavy meal. And I love the idea of using the dried flowers. Lovely!

Anh said...

Angie, I drink chrysanthemum tea almost every day! (Although my fav is the special jasmine tea from Vietnam). I love your jelly. Very well-done. I haven't had one for a long time.

Kalyn Denny said...

Very interesting. I think the tea and the jelly both sound just delightful.

Edith said...

i love jelly! now you are kicking my butt back into the kitchen. hehehe....

Valentina said...

Angie, what a lovely post.this is my first visit here and I really like your lovely 'home'. I have never had chrysanthemum tea. must take a note of it. I do know agar agar. it is great. will be coming back.

Patricia Scarpin said...

Angie, your agar agar jellies are so beautiful!
A dear cousin of mine married a Japanese descendant guy and she makes agar agar jellies pretty often at her house.
I'll send her your link!

Ed said...

I think I may try and find some chrysanthemum flowers today as i've got one of those bugs right now.

Unknown said...

Sher, thanks!

Anh, one of my fav drinks too. :p

Kalyn, chrysanthemum tea is one of the common drinks we have over here, makes a refreshing drink, and jelly too :)

Edith, hope my kick is hard enough, hahaha..

Valentina, thanks so much for your visit.

Patricia, yes yes, I would love to have your cousin's link.

Ed, oh dear, hope you'll recover soon.

shiyan said...

Hey Angie

Nice creation. Certainly a refreshing and "cooling" dessert.
I totally agree with you about the weather in Singapore. My colleagues are also taking their turns to fall ill. Ha ha... And all of them took quite a number of days to recover.
Do take care ya? =)

Unknown said...

Hi Shiyan, thanks for your concern. You take care too!

Michelle said...

Wow--how beautiful! Will you tell me how you get it to turn out so well? When I use agar agar, the end result is always grainy. :-P

mizchulita at yahoo dot com