I’m not usually a fan of juices. The frugal side of me finds them terribly wasteful—all that fiber being squeezed away, especially when fruit comes at such a high cost in these parts. And I’m still a little scarred from that Kelly Wearstler interview in Bon Appetit awhile ago, where she basically admitted to being on a liquid diet for about 90% of her day. Shudder. The thought of subsisting off plankton water and Superfood juice sounds horribly depressing. (But then again, I’m not an interior, architecture, and fashion maven with a small empire under my feet. There can’t be too much to be depressed about when one’s life is described that way.)
Despite my ambivalence, I haven’t been able to get a certain citrus punch out of my head. It was, without exaggeration, one of the most refreshing beverages I’ve ever drunk. I’ve been yearning for something as rejuvenating ever since, so it only seemed right to take advantage of citrus season and try my hand at concocting my own version.
My notes below.
1. Satsuma orange juice is, hands down, my favorite. It’s sweet and festive and smells so good! And it’s practically opaque! Like liquid sunshine, truly. But a piece of my heart breaks every time I juice one; it just goes against my better judgment, you know? They’re meant to be eaten! Nature couldn’t have engineered a better snack fruit. The waste, oh, the waste!
2. Blood orange juice is kind of bossy. You know how it’s got a slightly woody taste? Yeah, that tends to take over whatever you mix it with. Its color also dominates, which is fine most of the time because blood orange juice is beautiful, but not when it obscures the aforementioned sunshine.
3. Cara cara oranges look pretty, but their juice comes out tasting and looking an awful lot like regular orange juice. The two are pretty interchangeable in my mind, although cara caras are such a pleasure to eat because of their lovely salmon hue.
4. Yuzus are a bitch to juice. Have you seen a yuzu? (If not, picture below.) It’s like the sumo wrestler of the citrus world, all thick skin and padding. It’s also got thick, well-developed, er, walls (sorry, didn’t have time to brush up on my citrus anatomy), requiring some serious muscle action to extract a disappointingly scant amount of juice. But, like the way it smells—floral and extremely fragrant—its juice tastes pretty spectacular. It’s one of my dad’s favorite fruits.
I also introduced some ruby red grapefruits, honey tangerines, lemon, and sweet lime into the mix. Nothing to note, except grapefruit juice is awfully watery. I would’ve loved to get my hands on some kumquats, but Whole Foods didn’t have any in stock, sadly. I wouldn’t juice them anyway – the skin is part and parcel of the whole kumquat experience.
As far as mixes go, I realized the complexity of each type of citrus would be drowned out if I didn’t curate my selection. So I decided to stick to just two types, cara cara (or navel) and satsuma. They’re quite complementary.
In the end though, I wanted something more than just a fancy fruit juice. I wanted a restorative counterpart that would coax me into a zen-like calm. That’s where the green tea comes in. It adds a touch of earnestness to the drink that turns it into a balm that chases away all wintry blues.
CITRUS POMEGRANATE MINT TEA
Makes 1 drink
Adapted from Martha Stewart
The measurements listed below are rough, as so much of the drink depends on the strength of the tea and how sweet you usually like your drinks. I would go easy on the sugar, though. It’s meant to be refreshing, not a Starbucks beverage. Also, for the green tea, I used a loose-leaf jasmine that I infused to the strength I usually like to drink it.
5 fresh mint leaves
A pinch or two of sugar
1/2 cup or so fresh citrus juice (I like a mixture of about half tangerine juice and half cara cara)
1 Tbsp pomegranate molasses
1/2 cup or more green tea, chilled
Muddle mint and sugar in the bottom of a tall glass until mint breaks into tiny pieces. Add juice and molasses; stir to combine. Fill glass halfway with ice and top with green tea. Stir before serving.