Cranberries Add Balance to This Fruity Tea

tart and berries

Cranberries are fully entrenched in current thanks-giving traditions—and rightfully so because these bright red berries are native to our country and had long been eaten by Native Americans, including mixed into pemmican, a nutrient-rich food that stored and carried well.

cranberries botanicalOur native cranberry is Vaccinium macrocarpon, which has a larger berry than the European variety.

The Algonquin name for these bright crimson berries is Sassamenesh; the Wampanoag and Lenni Lenape name is ibimi, meaning bitter or sour berries; and common English names include lingonberry and cowberry, because cows eat them (Murphy).

Cranberries prefer growing in bogs, or regions of accumulated peat, and over 100 varieties can be found in the northern parts of the U.S. Because the fruit-bearing creeping branches lie on the ground, cranberries are easy to harvest.

When white sugar became available in the 1600s, the tart berries were a good candidate for some sweetening, and our country’s first cookbook, by Amelia Simmons, in 1796, advised serving roasted turkey with cranberry sauce (Gutoskey 2019).

cranberry sauce
Cranberry sauce with apple and orange pieces

Today, cranberries are found in pies and tarts and juice and tea, in addition to sauce—adding a delightful tang!

cranberry tart
Cranberry tart topped with meringue

Soaked in simple syrup made with vanilla and Salerno Blood Orange Liqueur and then rolled in sugar, they are amazing!

sugared berries

Cranberries also add a nice tart note to a sweet tea blend, like this Cranberry Mango Tea from TeaHaus, a mix of green tea from China and India and mango and cranberry pieces.

tea lvs

Bright light to dark green leaves—a combination of flat and rolled leaves—are sprinkled with bits of dried mango and cranberries.

Brewed, the leaves yield a cup that is golden with a slight green hue, with an aroma that is fruit forward and tropical.

brewed tea

The aroma sets the stage for this tea’s flavor, and while the aroma has a strong sweetness, the flavor is more nuanced. An initial sweet fruity is followed by a drier, slight astringency, the cranberry’s contribution.

Looking at the brewed leaves, you can see that they are large to nearly intact leaves.

brewed lvs

Note too that although you can make cranberry tisanes, such recipes call for sugar to make the drink palatable whereas this Cranberry Mango blend contains no added sugar. Rather, the blend has a green tea base, and the mango pieces are enough to add natural sweetness.

This Cranberry Mango tea is light and refreshing, excellent either hot or iced. And an ideal accompaniment to all that leftover turkey still in your fridge!


Sources:
–Gutoskey, E. “Why do we eat cranberry sauce on Thanksgiving?” Mental Floss, 11/20/2019.
–Murphy, H. “Foods indigenous to the western hemisphere: cranberries,” American Indian Health and Diet Project.

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