I think Spring has finally sprung, albeit a little late, and with it, a feeling of renewal and nostalgia for hot summer days has clouded my vision. These winter months have allowed me to descend into a dull routine, and I’ve long needed a second to refresh myself. Cycling down country lanes has replaced trudging through the snow to sledge. Chiffon shirts have replaced thick, woollen jumpers, and lemonade and tea have replaced hot chocolate and strong, revitalising coffees.
This lemonade syrup was a spontaneous creation, using ingredients that were in the house on a sunny day. I decided to use a technique that I picked up from the goddess that is Joy the Baker, and further intensified the lemon flavour by coaxing out the aromatic oils that reside in the rind of the fruit by rubbing strips of zest into the gritty, crystalline sugar. The light, fresh flavour of the Earl Grey gave the syrup depth of flavour and colour, whilst a hint of lavender further intensified the sweetness, without clouding the sharp lemon with saccharine stabs. The bitterness of the tonic water counteracts the bright syrup, lending itself beautifully to create a drink perfects for sipping in the garden.
Clockwise: Vibrant colours at the fruit market | Earl Grey and contemplation | the sun is finally bathing the cold leaves | a reminder to keep me grounded
Earl Grey Bitter Lemonade | plumful
2 unwaxed lemons, zest and juice
200ml strongly brewed, cooled Earl Grey tea
1/4 cup golden caster sugar
1 tbsp lavender honey
Tonic water, to serve
Place the zest and sugar in a small bowl, and rub the zest into the crystals to release the natural oils. Add to a small pan, along with the lemon juice, sugar and honey, and heat on a low flame until the sugar has just dissolved. Add the tea, stir, and taste. Adjust honey:sugar:tea ratio until the flavours are perfect. Decant into a sterilised bottle, and leave to cool. Serve in elegant flutes by diluting the syrup in tonic to a 1:2 ratio with a twist of lemon rind.