Many people can't live without the caffeine jolt provided by a daily cup of Joe, but lets be frank, coffee is mundane. While we appreciate the stunning compositions of an epic cup of freshly brewed Colombian coffee, most of the time we grab a cup of stale coffee from the break room or dish out far too much money at Starbucks for something that only resembles coffee.
So today, we offer you 5 live-changing beverages that will drastically improve your quality of life.
Turn to this sweet syrupy refreshment to curb even the strongest coffee cravings. Jallab is a popular in much of the Middle East and is a beach side staple in Syria and Lebanon. The drink is made by mixing a jellaba syrup into still or sparkling water (our personal preference).
Dates and rose water are added to a base of thick indulgent grape molasses to create the syrup which is then infused with the smoke of incense adding a perfumed flavor that we don't often encounter in our daily lives. Served over ice and adorned with golden raisins and nuts this beverage is a pick-me-up that will make you feel like you're summering on the Mediterranean.
When you need a mid-day jolt and don't want to cave to coffee cravings, turn to kvass. This bubbly fermented Russian beverage is somewhere between an alcohol free beer and a kombucha. Kvass has the same alcohol flavor profile as kombucha (and same alcohol content at less than 1%) but replaces flavors of tea with those of yeasty sour bread. A simple combination of water, black bread (a rich rye), sugar, and yeast or sourdough starter can be flavored by adding raisins or other sweet fruits before being left to ferment and become a rustic sparkling beverage. We've also tried kvass sweetened with honey and blended with warm herbs and can attest to its unusually complex deliciousness. If you are on board with kombucha you will likely succumb to this Russian classic!
3. Ruk’u’x Ulew Ceremonial Cacao Paste Hot Chocolate
Nothing elevates life like chocolate. And, for us, no chocolate can come close to the pure ceremonial cacao paste from Ruk’u’x Ulew. The cacao is grown at an organic indigenous family farm in Alta Verapaz, Guatemala before being processed by a women's collective on the shores of Lake Atitlán. Small batches beans are left to ferment then are sun-dried and roasted over a wood fire before being shelled by hand. Once processed, the cacao is formed into beautifully swirled disks of untempered pure chocolate. With notes of dark coffee and smoky earthiness there isn't any detectable bitterness in this gorgeous paste.
We admit to savoring every last drop of rich cups of cocoa each day to start off our mornings with peace. We begin with hot (not steaming) water or milk into which we add some finely chopped or grated cacao off the block for the most incredible cup of hot chocolate you could imagine. For some added magic, whip the cocoa by hand, with a blender, or a hot chocolate steamer for a foamy masterpiece. We don't add sweetener but you absolutely can!
4. Gorreana Chá Verde
Chá Gorreana is a vibrant gem in the rough of commercial green teas. This smooth Portuguese tea, harvested on the oldest tea plantation in Europe, is a sweet refreshing green tea without the unpleasant verdant grass flavor that defines trendy matchas and mates.
Grown on the Portuguese island of Saõ Miguel in the Atlantic, the tea leaves that compose Gorreana green teas are free of pesticides and are hand picked during the early summer when a wet fog shields the tiny buds from harsh climate, preserving the teas' distinctively sweet and delicate flavor. Should you desire added freshness, Gorreana has a green tea with mint that we swear by to brighten our mornings.
Craving sweetness? Nothing satisfies our sweet tooth like the creamy decadence of horchata. A staple from West Africa to Spain, horchata is a delicate blend of rice or tiger nuts, sugar, milk, evaporated milk, and water scented with vanilla and cinnamon, and served over ice for a refreshingly rich treat. If you are lucky enough, you may be able to buy some at local restaurants but if not, just let your ingredients soak overnight to quickly whip up your own like an elevated morning smoothie. Not digging the dairy? Simply switch out the milk products for an almond or coconut milk. Feeling adventurous? Add cubed fruits for a colorful juicy texture enhancement.
For a Middle Eastern twist on horchata, try meghli: a warming mix of sugar, powered rice, and toasted caraway, fennel, anise, and cinnamon that is steeped in water as a fragrant tea. The starches in the rice powder thicken the tea to an almost pudding like texture that is then topped with chopped walnuts, almonds, and pistachios for both crunch and a balancing whisper of salt.