With summer in full swing, temperatures are soaring. What better way to beat the heat than with a refreshing herbal drink?
Herbal drinks have been in existence since the Middle Ages-and probably earlier. Named after the old English word for a field, Meade was the most well known of these herbal drinks. Meade was actually an alcoholic punch made by the Benedictine monks and concocted from fermented herbs and flowers. It was the drink of choice at weddings and other celebrations in the medieval world. Today, meade lives on as Norfolk Punch.
Herbal drinks are still going strong, although most of them are non-alcoholic and tend to be marketed as energy drinks made with botanicals from the rain forest. Fortunately, there are several companies that still manufacture traditional herbal drinks and punches with spring water, honey, herbs and berries including Norfolk Punch and another by the name of Ame. Neither contains refined sugars, artificial colors or flavors.
A wonderful substitute for wine, Ame is light and refreshing, perfect for dining al fresco during the summer months. Norfolk Punch is a good choice year round and the perfect accompaniment during the Christmas season. Serve it chilled during the summer months and warmed during the winter.
Made from tisanes or infusions, decoctions, or distillations of herbs, flowers, and spices, you can make your own herbal drinks at home, and add flavorings such as honey, fruit-based vinegars, or fruit and citrus juices for some extra pizzazz.
Served chilled and garnished with edible flowers, herbal drinks are the perfect aperitif to serve before dinner or as a digestif to aid in digestion after your meal.
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