»   Encyclopedic Dictionary »   Starving Artist Cafe »

[ Keep up with new discoveries with a free subscription to the Baba Yaga Newsletter. ]



I frequently use the Samovar method (with or without a Samovar) to prepare a concentrated tea infusion which is then diluted as required and kept cool in the refrigerator when not required. I enjoy Turkish, Irish and English black tea blends; I have yet to become a fan of green or white tea. recommends preparing Black, Herbal, and Rooibush and Fruit tisanes with boiling water, green and white teas at lower temperatures. They recommend steeping white and greenteas for 1 or 2 minutes, Oolong and Black teas slightly longer, and herbal, Rooibush and Fruit tissanes between 5 and 10 minutes. The now-defunct suggested water at 180 F for white and green teas.

A rounded tablespoon of black tea in a 32-oz (quart) size tea pot is enjoyable for me. If I am going to make a concentrated tea infusion for use with the Samovar method, I use 1/4 c of tea leaves per quart of boiling water (9x strength) and then dilute it with very hot water. When using a Samovar proper, I will make the tea concentrate 1/2 c leaves to one quart of water (18x strength).

The Lower East Side Resoration Project has some Russian tea concentrate recipes made with black tea on their web site, along with a couple of suggestions for sweet cakes to go with them. Here are my adaptations of two tea recipes.

Russian Fruit Tea

  1. In a small teapot, make a tea concentrate by combining
    • 1/2 cup apple cider
    • 3-5 cloves
    • 1/3 c (5-6 T) of black or Orange Pekoe Tea
  2. Pour over all: one pint boiling water.
  3. Steep for seven to ten minutes.
  4. To serve, pour a small amount of the strained concentrate into a cup or glass, and fill the rest of the cup with boiling water from your Samovar.
  5. Sweeten to taste with honey or fruit jam.

Russian Spiced Black Tea

  1. In a small teapot, make a tea concentrate by combining:
    • 3-5 tablespoons of Black Tea leaves
    • 6-8 whole cloves
    • 3 tablespoons of grated orange peel
    • A pinch or two of cinnimon to taste.
  2. Pour over all: one pint boiling water.
  3. Steep for seven to ten minutes.
  4. To serve, pour a small amount of the strained concentrate into a cup or glass, and fill the rest of the cup with boiling water from your Samovar.
  5. Sweeten to taste with honey or fruit jam.

Hawaiian Iced Tea

One gallon.

Steep 12 black tea bags (1/4 c loose tea) and three springs (40 leaves) of fresh mint in 2 quarts water that has been brought to the boil.

After ten minutes of steeping, strain the tea.

Add 2 cups sugar and juice of 12 lemons (6 oz).

Add 12 oz pinapple juice or a 20 oz can of pinapple blended with 2 cups ice water.

You can make syrup out of the sugar first by bringing the sugar and an equal quantity of water to the boil and then stirring until sugar has dissolved.

Tea Brewing

This information courtesy of a postcard from
  • Add enough hot water to submerge the tea leaves, then stop for a few seconds before pouring in the rest of the water. Warming the tea leaves and the pot makes a better brew.
  • Different teas taste best when brewed at different water temperatures; green tea at 180F, white and oolong at 200F, Chai and black tea at 212F (boiling). A quick guide to getting the temperature right:
    • Use boiling water for black and chai;
    • Wait 1-2 minutes after removing boiling water from heat to steep oolong and white teas;
    • Wait 3-4 minutes after removing boiling water from heat to steep green tea.

Punch recipes

Economical and Delicious Juice and Soda Punch

  1. In a one-gallon container:
    • 1 1/3 c strong tea
    • 1/2 c lemon juice
    • 1 1/3 c orange juice
    • 2/3 c sugar
    • 1.5 c pinapple juice
  2. Top container with ginger ale and carbonated water in a 2:1 ratio.
A large piece of frozen juice or ginger ale can be used to keep the punch cold.

Iced Tea a la Mandy

from Vera Bloom's Entertaining Lady:
  • Steep 4 oz dark Orange Pekoe in 2 quarts of water.
  • Steep 20 minutes and strain.
  • 1 gallon cold water
  • Juice of 12 oranges
  • Juice of 6 lemons
  • 3 qts pale dry ginger ale
  • Crushed fresh mint sprigs.

Good Girl Moon Shine

If I knew who came up with this I would thank them.
  • Fill a quart sized jar with water and ice.
  • Add a generous drizzle of raw apple cider vinegar (1-2 T).
  • Add 1 tsp of ginger powder (available in bulk at whole food stores and online).
  • Sweeten to taste with stevia.

Fruit Smoothies Recipes

Banana Smoothie

The potassium in bananas and in milk is said to be a good counterbalance to sodium. Since I tend to enjoy salty food, I make sure I have bananas around for a daily smoothie.

This recipe makes 5 cups. If you want less, try 1 banana, 1/2 c milk, 1/2 c ice cubes.

  1. In a blender:
    • 3 well-ripened bananas (Put the bananas in first so that the ice cubes will not lodge between the blender blades.)
    • 1.5 c milk
    • 1 c ice
    • dash vanilla
  2. Blend until smooth.

Banana Soft Serve

This comes out with a delicious texture, like soft-serve ice cream.

I make this in my Vitamix. I do not know if it will work in a blender. It might work in a food processor.

  • 3 frozen bananas (peel and break into pieces before freezing)
  • One cup milk.
Start on Variable 1, then increase speed slowly to highest speed. Use tamper if necessary. In about 30-60 seconds, the sound of the motor will change and four mounds will form. Stop. Overmixing will cause melting.

If you do over-mix, try adding some ice cubes and try again..

Alcoholic Beverages

Irish Cream

  1. In a blender, combine the 1.5 c Irish whiskey, 1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk, 2 T chocolate syrup and 2t instant coffee, and blend on high speed until combined.
  2. Place the whiskey mixture in a bowl and stir in the cream until smooth. Store the Irish cream in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 2 weeks. Serve chilled over ice.

I am not much of a drinker. When an occasion arose that required alcoholic refreshment for a group of friends and acquaintances, I asked some male co-workers what they recommended I stock up on. They recommended the following:

  1. Gin: Bombardier
  2. Rum:
    • BB
    • Captain
  3. Scotch
    • Dewars
    • Johnny Walker
    • Jack Daniels
    • Asyla
  4. Tequila: Cuervo Gold
  5. Vodka: Absolute
Of course, no one mentioned the coffee liqueurs needed for my favorites, Black Russians and (with the addition of cream) and White Russians.

Vera Bloom, Sol Bloom's daughter and the author of Entertaining Lady, suggests keeping a supply of liqueurs on hand for guests. She divides them into feminine (creme de menthe, anisette, apricot or cherry brandy) and masculine (Contreau, Benedictine, Grand Marnier).

She suggests that a modest cellar consists of:

  • Whisky (rye or Bourbon, plus Scotch)
  • Gin
  • Rum (light Bacardi Type)
  • French Vermouth, dry
  • Italian Vermouth, sweet
  • Sherry, dry or medium
  • Debonnet
  • Red and white wine
  • Liqueurs

She also suggests that Dubonnet or Vermouth with soda and ice makes a nice alternative to a highball.

She also recommends the following classic cookbooks:

  • The Physiology of Taste, by Brillat-Savarin
  • Guide Culinaire, by Escoffier
  • Of Cabbages and Kings, by William Rhode
  • The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book (Fannie Farmer)
  • The Settlement Cook Book
Maura Enright, Proprietor
©2012 - 2016 by Maura Enright
Last updated Feb 2016
© means the content is copyrighted.
Your links to this content are much appreciated.