Green Tea with Saffron and Cardamom
Afghans always find an excuse to drink tea; whether it's day or night, in the middle of a hot summer day or on a freezing winter night, whether you are tired with a headache and need a shot of caffeine, or you’re just simply thirsty, you can always expect to find fresh brewed tea in an Afghans’ home. Throughout every Afghan home it's almost guaranteed that there are two carafes of tea ready to be served to anyone who walks through the door: one for green and the other for black tea. Tea is a major symbol of hospitality for Afghans – making sure that every guest is served tea and their cups are refilled constantly.
Two of my favorite spices are saffron and cardamom. I find myself using these spices in a variety of my dishes. I feel like these two spices give my dishes that eastern fragrant and taste I love.
Saffron: Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world and Afghanistan produces some of the world’s highest quality saffron. The majority of saffron is cultivated and harvested in the city of Herat. The best quality saffron is all red. The more yellow/white color in saffron the lower the quality. I use saffron in the form of threads, powder, and liquid depending on what I am making. Interestingly, there are many health benefits of saffron. They say not to eat too much saffron as it can give you the giggles. That’s because saffron can help brighten your mood and it has been used to treat depression. Also, studies have found that saffron can make you feel full and lose weight. To me these are all added benefits to using this luxurious spice.
Cardamom: Cardamom follows saffron as an expensive spice. There are two types of cardamom, black and green. I use the green cardamom most of the time. The green cardamom is the kind found in middle eastern cuisine while black cardamom is found more in Indian cuisine. I feel that the green cardamom works well in both sweet and savory dishes. I use it as whole pods, seeds, or ground. In the Afghan culture, cardamom is especially used when serving guests. For example, you almost always add cardamom to the tea you serve your guests.
PREPERATION 15 minutes
MAKING TIME 10 Minutes
SERVINGS Serves 4-6
- 1 Tbsp loose leaf green tea
- 3 green cardamom pods lightly crushed
- 5-6 saffron threads
- 4 cups water
1. Pour 4 cups of water into a kettle and bring to a boil. It is important to use fresh cold water. Using filtered water is best.
2. Add the green tea, cardamom pods, and saffron threats to your tea infuser. I am using a teapot with infuser; however, you can make this tea directly in a pot, in a thermos, or in a kettle. The infuser is a great tool, it allows for the leaves to expand and the flavor of the spices to release into the pot. If you are not using the infuser, you would need to strain tea when serving in cups. Also, it is important to use good quality tea when brewing loose leaf.
3. Place the infuser in the teapot and add hot water.
4. Close the lid and allow tea to brew for 10 minutes. I leave the infuser while I server my tea. You can remove the infuser at this point if you would like.
5. Carefully pour, serve and enjoy!