In the Northern Hemisphere, we are about to enter the fresh orange season. Oranges may be available year round, but in late fall and early winter I often find them at rock bottom prices. If you remember, I use my orange peels extensively. I infuse vinegar with the peels. I make candied orange peel in sugar syrup. And I zest the oranges (using a veg peeler and my food processor), to save in the freezer for baking and tea.
Our limited grocery budget now means that my afternoon tea has to either come from my current supply, or be cheap, cheap, cheap! Here's my version of orange-spice tea, using dollar store black tea, orange zest, ground cloves and cinnamon and a bit of sugar.
In a small teapot (about 10 oz.), I infuse about 1/2 teaspoon of frozen orange zest in a full pot (10 oz) of water. I do this by microwaving the water and orange zest for about 1 minute 20 seconds. The orange zest is slower to infuse than tea, so I give it this first infusion.
Next, I add 1 cheapo black tea bag and a tiny pinch of ground cloves, plus 1 slightly larger, but still tiny, pinch of ground cinnamon. I microwave this infusion for about 40 seconds, and allow to steep for a minute or two.
I add a bit of sweetening (sugar, stevia or honey), and reheat my infusion, as needed. I have 2 lovely teacups of orange-spice black tea, for the cost of a cheap bag of black tea, a penny's worth of sugar and spices, and the zest of an orange that I might otherwise consider as garbage.
You can bet that this year, of all years, I'll be making the most of every last orange peel that comes my way. I still have a small amount of zest and candied orange peel in the freezer from last year, but that supply is going fast. I used some of the orange zest in a batch of cookies this past weekend, along with chopped dried cherries, pecan pieces, nutmeg and chocolate chips. Oooh yum! I'm glad that it's cookie baking season again!