While researching for our new book, Wild Tea, we developed a liking for brews with the flavour of aniseed and set out to discover as many as we could find. Here are our five favourites…
The undisputed aniseedy ace – its roots, leaves and seeds can all be used as an ingredient. It’s the vast Wild Fennel that’s best and dominates corners of our allotment and garden, and the seeds* are the highlight. Lightly crush a teaspoon of dried seeds and steep in a mug of hot water five minutes.
This Mediterranean plant has tiny seeds that are used in numerous sweets and boozes, including ouzo, absinthe, arak, sambuca and pastis. Lightly crush a teaspoon-full before adding to hot water or milk (a milky anise brew is a fine thing).
Also known as Persian cumin and meridian fennel, these seeds are a common flavouring in rye bread. They have a milder aniseed flavour than fennel and are earthier with a slight peppery warmth to them.
This spice is popular in Chinese cuisine and has a fruity aniseed flavour to it. Crush the stars into small pieces and use a teaspoon per cup for a fruity, spicy take on the aniseed theme.
We were surprised to discover that liquorice can be grown in British gardens so are now the proud owners of a plant. It’s the root that has the aniseed magic and, for the best cuppa, you’ll need to simmer a 50mm length in water for ten minutes. Alternatively, chop and bash as best you can and steep instead.
For lots more tea inspiration (including extended growing and brewing information on fennel and liquorice) get your hands on a copy of Wild Tea
*Technically they’re the fruits…