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IMBB: Tea Jelly (Jello)

I haven't participated in an IMBB for a number of months, but musing on tea inspired my first adventures with gelatin, itself a recent IMBB theme. My idea seemed straightforward: take a variety of herbal teas, set them with gelatin, cut them up into tidy little pieces, and make a small, stained-glass-window style salad of colored cubes in a small glass or bowl.

Note: In what follows, I use the terms "jelly" and "jello" interchangably. I know jello is a brand name, but I don't know what else to call the resulting subtance in North America. In the UK, jello is known as jelly.

two or more teas or infusions of choice
gelatin packets

Short version of recipe
Brew tea. Combine with gelatin and stir until gelatin is thoroughly dissolved, approximately 1 Tbsp gelatin per pint of liquid. Allow to cool, then refridgerate until set. Cut into small cubes and pile into a tablespoon's worth of tea-flavored jello salad.

If I were less of a gelatin novice, I might have succeeded in doing just as I planned. I brewed bowlfuls of three Twinings herbal teas, lemon ginger (a favorite of mine), Pear & Guava, and Pink Grapefruit, Mandarin, & Lime. The first one was pale yellow, but the second two were both rosehip-stained purpled reds. Why are rosehips used so excessively in herbal teas? There are so many other wonderful ingredients in the world, and the flavor of rosehips inevitably overpowers the rest of the concoction.

I mixed in the gelatin packets according to direction, with liquid quantities approximated. I spooned the resulting liquids into a variety of containers, hoping that at least some would unmold nicely. After half an hour of cooling on the counter, I left them all in the fridge for several hours to set. Two of the three teas set quite firmly; the other was a little too loose for my intentions. Still, I felt that was respectable for a gelatin novice.

But none of the jellies unmolded. I don't know what the right container is, but I used a selection of wrong ones, including a silpat mini-muffin tray, a regular muffin tray, and a glass bowl. So much for nice, tidy slices of jelly. Instead, I spooned out slivers, slicing them up into the size of jelly-gems I was aiming at. They almost look like sashimi.

And then spooned a few of the pieces into a shot glass, to see how the dish might have turned out.

The jellies are intense - since I let the teas brew more than five minutes - so are best in small quantites. A spoonful of them would make a good amuse bouche for a sweeter course; a real fruit salad would be a good followup to an artificial infusion-based one.

Since I had so much jellied tea on my hands, I tried it a number of other ways - sweetened with brown sugar, "mulled" with a sprinkling of ground cinnamon and cloves on top. To my surprise, the brown sugar turns to liquid rather quickly when sprinkled onto the set jellies.


( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 2nd, 2005 12:57 am (UTC)
Were the cinnamon and cloves actually able to spice the jellies, or did they simply stay on the top of the mold, all powdery?

I like the idea of a tea jelly as a small between-courses course. Did you use any black tea-based teas, or just herbals?

Ooo, I might just have to do this. The last big gelatin thing I tried was wine jellies, and they can be very yummy (a port-wine jelly, for example, can complement a chocolate dessert, and help balance out the over-richness of the chocolate).

** dreams of tea jelly **

Details, woman! Details!

PS I miss you! You're gone, and Juan's leaving, and I will soon have no one to have chat about cheese with!
Aug. 2nd, 2005 11:47 am (UTC)
Re: Hmmm
The cinnamon was more effective than the cloves, and neither absorbed the way the sugar did. Don't use too much of either, or try dissolving them along with the gelatin to mull the tea properly.

I didn't use any black teas because I don't drink them (tannin issues) and C. was dubious about the whole concept so I wasn't going to make any especially for him. If you do do black tea, it might be fun to top it with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of sugar for the full tea-with-milk experience!

If you want any more details, you'll have to ask which ones you want! I am capable of spinning extremely small stories into extremely long yarns if given half-a-chance. You should be glad I edit myself so much here!

If you want to chat about cheese, write me more frequently! Give me homework assignments of cheeses to go try. Call or IM or email or LJ comment to me. I am eminently reachable most of the time. And amenable to cheese-eating as well.
Aug. 2nd, 2005 11:41 pm (UTC)
Re: Hmmm
I am *always* willing to talk about cheese. :)
Aug. 2nd, 2005 04:10 am (UTC)
Try new fangled rubber ice cube trays that you can invert.

My that looks good.
Aug. 2nd, 2005 09:56 am (UTC)
Ikea has a big selection in cute shapes, too!

Also, I wonder if they might un-mold a bit better with a higher gelatin content?

I'm not sure I'd like a tea jelly, but I'm interested in the experiment!
Aug. 2nd, 2005 11:51 am (UTC)
Try a coffee jelly instead?

If the more solid of these had too much more gelatin in them, they'd be less pleasant to eat, I would think. I could try that, but the firmer of the results had no problem keeping their shape, except when I tried to separate them from their molds. Most of them were quite happy to be upsidedown and immobile.
Aug. 2nd, 2005 12:03 pm (UTC)
I'm not a big coffee or tea person--cocoa all the way!

Hmm...will ponder what else might help.
Aug. 2nd, 2005 11:49 am (UTC)
I suspect - but don't know - that they're all silicon-based in the same way my muffin tray is. Still, whether or not it worked, it certainly would be entertaining to have ice cubes in striking shapes available. Thanks for the suggestion.
Aug. 2nd, 2005 07:10 am (UTC)
what a brilliant idea! The colours are beautiful, so delicate. And it would be super to serve as a dessert for a dinner party guest who doesn't have much of a sweet tooth. I wonder how well it would work with agar instead of gelatine...
Aug. 2nd, 2005 11:48 am (UTC)
Quite well, I would think. There's no thickness or odd consistencies with tea to complicate setting it. It's just a sophisticated form of flavored water, after all.
Aug. 2nd, 2005 04:11 pm (UTC)
I have (had? I loved, who knows) a jello mold to make jello easter eggs in many varied colors.

The directions read to spray the insides very lightly with veg. oil. I didn't follow them, and the first try produces eggs that would not unmold. Second try worked (once I decided that maybe they knew what they were talking about).
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )