We can thank Iran for the delicious rose and cardamom flavour combination, typically infused directly into hot black tea (which is then served with cubes of sugar on the side, no milk). It's so refreshing.
I had my first sip in a Persian friend's kitchen during my second year of university. I'd just moved to Vancouver from the opposite coast, and I didn't really know anyone. In one of my enormous, overwhelmingly populated classes, I often sat near a girl named Fariba. We'd discuss notes and assignments in passing, and after a few brief chats, she invited me over to her home for tea. It was one of the first acts of hospitality I was offered in my new town, and I'll always remember. It caught me off guard. I was fairly introverted at the time, and had never been invited over by a virtual stranger. I remember sitting at her sunny table nibbling on a date while she rustled around her freezer for some Persian sweets she had stashed and her daughter walked downstairs in pyjamas.
Fariba was the first to show me that inviting people in for tea is a magical gesture. Acquaintances are quickly transformed into friendships over a kitchen table. There's something about the casualness, the familiarity, and the hominess. It's so much sweeter than meeting at a coffee shop.
She and I have since parted ways, but I still think of her often, and will always admire her warmth and generosity as a friend and hostess, as well as her incredible home-cooked food. (I miss you, Fariba, if you're reading this!)
Infused simple syrups are the easiest way to make killer cocktails (see Dark & Stormy, Merry Manhattan, Rosemary-Grapefruit Gin Fizz). But beyond booze, I've been enjoying this Rose & Cardamom syrup in in hot tea, lattes, fruit salad, over ice cream and yogurt as well as in the iced tea cocktail pictured. It would be heavenly with Gulab Jamun (Indian syrup-soaked doughnuts made with mostly with powdered milk and just a bit of flour) or drizzled over poundcake. Or used to sweeten whipped cream for lots of different kinds of desserts. I can't not think of delicious ways to use it.
I found my rose petals in the tea section of a bulk food store (if they're safe for tea, they're safe to eat). Look for edible or culinary rose petals and/or rosebuds such as these. Please don't use potpourri 😅
For the cocktail, you can buy unsweetened iced tea or you can make it real quick using my 10-minute method.
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup water
- 12 green cardamom pods
- 3 heaped tablespoons food-grade rose petals (see note in post)
- 1-2 oz bourbon
- 1-2 oz syrup
- iced tea (unsweetened storebought or homemade)
To make syrup, combine all ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and let stand to infuse for 1 hour. Strain into an airtight jar and refrigerate for up to three months.
To make cocktails, stir 1 oz each of bourbon and syrup together in a glass. Fill with ice and top up with iced tea. Add more syrup and/or bourbon to taste.