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double blossom

Recipe: orange blossom iced tea

August 1 is my sister’s birthday and I usually buy flowers for her, or rather for me to remember her. I didn’t buy flowers this year as my night-blooming cereus was loaded with several large buds. Two of them bloomed tonight, which I thought was fitting and wonderful. These flowers tie me to my family. They are supposed to symbolize luck when they open – just for one night. The house is filled with this beautiful fragrance. By daybreak they will close up and wilt… something special. Doubly special.

the buds at 6:30 pm

blooming at 11:00 pm

I’ve been feeling tired lately, which in all likelihood is related to the fact that I haven’t been getting enough sleep. My to do list finally caught up to me and punched me in the face. My sister’s birthday kicked me in the gut. Sometimes the best thing I can do is to walk away from it – maybe mentally, maybe physically. So today’s recipe is a soothing one. It’s a nice escape from the heat and it smooths out the furrowing of the brow.

sugar, black tea, and orange blossom water

This was the other beverage offered at Uchenna, a delightful Ethiopian restaurant in Colorado Springs (the first beverage being the rose water lemonade). It’s the one that I ordered because I absolutely fell in love with the flavor of the orange blossom water. I used a loose assam tea and let it steep on the longer side (to make it stronger) because I like my glass filled to the brim with ice.

make the tea

let it steep


It’s even simpler to make than the rose water lemonade. I found my bottle of orange blossom water at my local Whole Foods grocer, but you can probably source it in Middle Eastern or Indian grocery stores too. It is made from orange blossom petals and smells faintly of orange candy. You don’t need a lot, but it really lights up a glass of iced tea.

add orange blossom water to taste

pour over ice

I’m partial to iced tea as it is, but this version is a special treat for entertaining or to pick yourself up when you’re feeling low. If you’re looking for a different twist on a summer standard, maybe give this orange blossom iced tea a try.

add an orange slice

and enjoy

Orange Blossom Iced Tea
[print recipe]
from this recipe

4 cups water
4 tsps good loose black tea (I used assam tea)
3 tbsps sugar
2 tsps orange blossom water

Bring the water to a boil. Place the tea in a tea pot or heatproof vessel and pour the hot water over the tea. Let it steep for 3-5 minutes. I tend to steep it for 5 minutes to make it stronger since I like my iced tea with a lot of ice. Strain the tea (discard the tea leaves). Stir in the sugar. Add the orange blossom water to taste. Fill a glass with ice and pour the tea over the ice. Makes 1 quart.

more goodness from the use real butter archives

rose water lemonade lavender lemonade hibiscus tea lemonade cucumber spritzer

14 nibbles at “double blossom”

  1. Anne says:

    Oh thank you for mentioning the name of this plant! I’m constantly finding and then forgetting the name of it, usually in between blooming times. I don’t know if it’s the same for you, but my family has several and they don’t bloom very often, maybe a few times a year if any- we have both the ones with white flowers (like yours above) and fuschia pink ones. Have you ever tried eating them? My mom’s friend asked for them once when she saw the wilted buds- I guess to make tea or something? I actually thought that’s what the recipe was going to be…flower bud tea. Following that, does your plant have little brown twig-like growths all over the leaves/stems? I’ve been wondering if that’s normal or some sort of infection…

    Anyway, what am I doing talking about flowers on a food blog…?

  2. Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar says:

    This sounds like the perfect summer treat!! Lovely!

  3. debbie says:

    This sounds delicious especially for this time of year.

  4. Cindi says:


  5. Rocky Mountain Woman says:

    Birthdays are so hard! I know exactly how you feel, I sometimes HAVE to kind of walk away, or I couldn’t function…

    Be careful with yourself for a few days and feel the hugs I’m sending right now over cyberspace…



  6. Kristin says:

    Agree that birthdays get you in the gut. Sometimes hard enough to take the breath away.

    My orange blossom water, which sits sadly on the shelf watching as I take out my rosewater to try some scrumptious URB concoction or other, thanks you, as do I. I never know what to do with the stuff, and haven’t bothered actively searching for recipes. I hope to make this recipe this very afternoon.

    I hope you’re able to catch up on your sleep & get rested up soon.

  7. Abbe@This is How I Cook says:

    This tea looks perfect but the flower is stunning. Relax, that’s what Crested Butte is for, right? Life looks better sometimes in your sleep. Especially napping. Napping is a luxury that anyone can have.

  8. farmerpam says:

    How perfect, two flowers for two sisters. So special.

  9. SandraM says:

    Beautiful flower and a beautiful way to remember your sister. I understand how birthdays kick ya hard. I find it is the time leading up to the day that gets me too. Blah.
    I love your tea. I will definitely have to try it. Homemade ice tea is always so refreshing.

  10. Tina says:

    My daughter’s birthday is August 1st!

  11. jill says:

    I feel it in the gut for you, yet I know there is no way I can truly feel your pain. I’m sorry for your loss. It is special that there were two blooms, for the two of you. Gorgeous flowers.

    I hope you can take a little time for yourself. Sounds like you could use a little rest and rejuvenation. big hugs.

  12. Kathryn Swanson says:

    Agree with “Rockies mountain woman”. Birthdays of our loved ones who are gone are lonely feeling. Our son has a plant from each of his grandparents and both bloomed on their birthdays. Eerie and sort of comforting.
    I made mint iced tea with mint leaves com my potted plant today. It is really refreshing.

  13. laurasmess says:

    This sounds delicious! I’ve never had orange blossom water in tea, but I’ve got a bottle in my pantry so I’ll just have to change that! Thanks for sharing the gorgeous photo of your flowering cereus. I love how nature sometimes has little quirks, ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ moments that flash by faster than a speeding jet. Thinking of you during this draining time, hope that you manage to get some mental and physical rest soon. Lots of love xx

  14. jenyu says:

    Anne – yes, it sounds like the same plant :) I also have the pink one (which is a red cereus). I haven’t tried eating them, but I have read about using them to make soup or in stir fries. I think it is supposed to have medicinal benefits more than being a tasty treat. Mine doesn’t have twig-like growths on the white one, but the red cereus has a lot of little spines radiating off the leaves and I think that may be normal.

    Cindi – hugs back at ya, sweetie.

    RMM – thank you, hon xo

    Kristin – thanks. I bet orange blossom water would be great in cookies or cakes or perhaps panna cotta?

    Abbe – ah well, Crested Butte is more like a second office, but yes… I’m decompressing now :)

    farmerpam – :)

    jill – hugs, my friend xo

    Kathryn – how sweet. Even though I don’t believe in these things (blooms) happening for a reason on certain dates, it’s just very lovely when it coincides, no? :)

    laurasmess – thanks!

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