For many years, and I mean many, I’ve experienced an off and on dilemma about what to put in my tea. Black tea, that is. A drink to which I have a longstanding allegiance.
I was introduced to tea as a child. My dad used to make me a tea drink he’d call “Concoction” – tea with lemon, honey and sugar. Very tasty. I later got hooked on sweet creamy milk tea (chai) during the ten months I lived in India in the 1980’s. In India, chai is practically a religion and I was a fervent worshipper. Once home, my conversion appeared official. What coffee is to many Americans, tea became to me. Sweet tea. With cream. For a while, it was practically my reason to get up in the morning.
Needless to say, I was thrilled when studies started coming out attesting to the health benefits of tea drinking. (For starters, it's high in antioxidant flavonoids that help support vascular health.) Even so, I'm not one to like being dependent on any substance, no matter how good it is for me. So I decided to take periodic black tea breaks – just to be sure it was me who was actually steering the ship, lol.
Today, I frequently switch up my AM beverages – at times partaking of various herbal teas, yerba maté, hot lemon water, etc. following my tall glass of pure water or lemon water. But most mornings, I enjoy a cup of black tea – either an organic bulk tea from the local tea shop or a high quality bagged tea such as Yorkshire Gold, a current favorite. Always with a spoonful of raw honey and, frequently, a "creamer."
The cream is the problem.
There just aren’t any excellent creams out there. Regular half-and-half tastes and feels pretty good in the mouth but it’s nasty stuff: ultra-pasteurized and oozing with growth hormones, antibiotics and all the other chemicals fed to conventional cows.
Organic half-and-half is a step up but it’s still ultra-pasteurized, i.e. not only dead but potentially harmful to blood vessels and brain cells due to heat-damaged protein and fat molecules.
Raw cow’s milk will do but doesn’t provide the creaminess I’m looking for, plus after a few days, my tummy just says “no” to raw milk.
As for Silk Soy Creamer, well that was an option when I still used processed soy products, thinking them a fabulous meat/dairy substitute. Hah! I now avoid “soy foods” like the plague… for a multitude of reasons, such as: phytates (block mineral absorption), enzyme inhibitors (impair digestion), phyto-estrogens (helpful in menopause and other certain cases, but otherwise problematic in excess; linked to cancer, reproductive issues, etc), GMO’s (artificial DNA sequences; effects unknown), etc. Not to mention my general tendency to avoid highly processed fake foods. (Note: the only soy I currently consume or recommend is traditionally fermented soy – miso, tempeh, tamari – and the occasional tofu or edamame.)
So, soy milk’s out. Rice milk is too thin. Almond milk curdles in tea. Oat milk kind of works, but it’s still a highly processed product made in a factory, the original oat stripped of all energetic wholeness. What’s a tea drinker to do?
Enter my new invention. Hemp ‘n Half.
I came up with this the other day on a whim, and it worked! Thick, smooth, tasty – you name it! And so… I am very excited to share this recipe with you.
What’s to love about Hemp ‘n Half:
1. Fabulous taste – light, creamy and delicious; very similar to dairy half-and-half.
2. Mixes well into hot drinks: tea, yerba maté, coffee, Pero, mineral mochaccino, etc.
3. Contains chia seed: the world’s richest known source of omega-3 fatty acids and an excellent source of protein, calcium and fiber.
4. Contains hemp seed: protein-rich balanced source of omega fatty acids, high in minerals and fiber.
5. Non-dairy, lactose free, gluten-free, hypo-allergenic, vegan.
Please be advised, this recipe owes it’s smooth consistency to tiny chia seed, an up and coming superfood for the 21st century. Without the chia, the cream would separate into particles in the tea.
You can read all about chia seed in my recent booklet, Chia Seed (Woodland Publishing, 2010).
Chia Seed describes the fascinating history of this ancient Aztec power food, provides a comprehensive nutritional profile, benefits and delicious recipes – from sweet nut milks to velvety soup, savory raw crackers and the Mexican lemonade drink, Chia Fresca. Find Chia Seed at health food stores, community superfoods and online. Click here to order from Amazon.
Now, I present to you, my amazing…
Hemp ‘n Half
You will be elated at how well this thick, seed-based cream blends into hot drinks and tastes surprisingly like dairy half and half.
¼ cup raw hemp seeds
1 Tablespoon chia seeds
1 pinch sea salt
1 cup warm, filtered water
Add all ingredients to blender container. Allow seeds to soak for fifteen minutes. Blend on high for a few minutes until thoroughly homogenized. If desired, add optional one quarter teaspoon raw honey or agave nectar (I leave this out since I prefer to sweeten my tea separately). Store Hemp ‘n Half in a tightly closed glass jar in refrigerator. Keeps very nicely for 5-7 days.
Confession: as much as I love chai, an inviting cup of Mate Latte with Hemp 'n Half gives black tea a run for it's money!