Cooking Curiously from Taylor

Made in the Shade with “Pink Lemonade”

Here’s a little play on a summer classic using ingredients indigenous to North America – the East coast specifically.
Two very cool ingredients combine to make a refreshingly natural beverage similar to pink lemonade. 
Earlier this summer, we served this sweet foraged tea as an amuse bouche.
First, rose geranium was harvested from the garden. I found it interesting that the flower of the plant contains 1% methylhexaneamine, which has not been studied intensively since Eli Lilly filed its patent in 1944, stating that the stimulant effects on the human nervous system are less than that of amphetamine and ephedrine. This beautifully scented plant has an incredibly powerful rose fragrance and just a brush with your fingertips will leave you with the shrub’s perfume for hours. The plant adds flavor, and a slight sweetness to the tea. Whether the methywhosiwhatsits have an effect or not, this drink makes you feel good. Most likely because it’s just really tasty!
Next up, Sumac. Found in the nearby woods, these small trees don’t reach heights much taller than 30 feet or so. The fruit forms towards the end of summer in a dense cluster of red drupes or sumac bobs. The fruit is often dried, ground, and used as a spice in Middle Eastern cuisine. The pods themselves don’t have much flavor, but when extracted produce very sour tannins and a bright red hue. Perfect for our “pink lemonade”.
The two plants will be steeped in water for about 20-30 minutes. Steeping too long will produce unpleasant bitter flavors. At the end of the steeping process, a minimal amount of honey is added to slightly sweeten the drink. Cool immediately. 
Finished “Pink Lemonade”. As you can see, the sumac drupes have thrown their color, leaving the tea a vibrant shade of pinkish red. It has also contributed to all the acid in the drink, bringing to mind the sour pucker of a cool glass of lemonade. The floral rose aroma hits your nose before you even bring the glass to your lips. An all around perfect summer beverage. It cost us nothing but a little honey and the time it took to find the ingredients.
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