This Changes Everything: Tomato Tea

Rachel Tepper Paley
August 22, 2014

Yep, that’s a hot cup of tomato tea. Photo credit: thepumpernickel/Instagram

A late-summer cold can be a major bummer, but honey-laced tea isn’t the only option for soothing that scratchy throat. Take advantage of the season’s fresh (and fleeting!) tomato bounty and conjure yourself a steaming cup of tomato tea.

OK, you got us: Technically it’s not tea because it isn’t made by soaking the dried leaves of a plant in water. It’s actually just hot tomato water, which you can make by blitzing tomatoes in a blender and straining them through several layers of cheesecloth.

One acclaimed restaurant we visited recently upped the ante by adding aromatic basil in with the tomatoes, reducing the resulting liquid by half, and steeping it with black peppercorns, juniper berries, lemon verbena, lemon thyme, and star anise. To the naked eye, the drink, shown above, looks like a golden oolong tea. But it tasted like rich, flavorful broth with floral notes of lemon and herbs. 

And there’s more than one way to drink a tomato. Blend fiery red chili peppers in with the tomatoes, strain the mixture, and use it as a base for raw oyster shooters. Bon Appétit suggests a more herb-centric route, blending tomatoes with basil, cilantro, parsley, shallots, garlic, and vinegar in a tomato water recipe. A Gourmet recipe for Epicurious keeps things simple, with only vine-ripened tomatoes and few pinches of salt.

Drink the stuff in tea form, ladle it broth-like over a few gently seared scallops, or use it to poach delicate fish. But however you choose to take your tomato tea, take it soon. Tomato season will be gone before you know it, and that cold isn’t going to soothe itself.