I don’t mean to offend those who are passionate about their coffee by naming this drink cappuccino, but I can justify. The rich, foamy texture and deep flavor of this black sesame tea reminded me so much of all of cappuccino’s finest qualities, that I couldn’t resist giving it this name. I generally don’t drink coffee, but that changes as soon as I find myself on the other side of the Atlantic, where vacation mode and the magic of the European lifestyle make coffee into a very pleasant necessity for me. Otherwise, it’s always tea. Out of the caffeinated teas, good quality black, loose leaf tea is my drink of choice.
In my latest attempt to take a break from caffeine, I came across the possibility of using black sesame seeds and dates in a hot, tea-like drink. Chinese black sesame tea has long been known for its therapeutic properties. It is especially believed to nurture and restore hair strength, and is generally a great, calming whole body tonic, thanks to the overwhelming amount of nutrients in black sesame seeds.
When I made my version of black sesame seed tea for the first time, I couldn’t believe its rich taste and velvety texture. It really hit the spot and I’ve been drinking it in the morning for the past couple of weeks, not missing caffeine very much. Sesame seeds contain lots of lecithin, which, aside from helping keep your arteries flexible, accounts for the silky, creamy texture of this tea. In the absence of black sesame seeds, I’ve substituted with unhulled tan sesame seeds, which worked great as well.
I’ve included a recipe for another sesame drink I discovered while making my cappuccino. The taste of this milk reminds me of halva, one of my favorite childhood treats. This one is quick to prepare and quite satisfying in its own way.
Black Sesame Cappuccino
1 cup black sesame seeds (I like these)
2 soft dates – pitted
3 cups water
1 cup homemade almond milk or almond-sesame milk (see recipe below)
1. Combine sesame seeds, dates and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, adjust heat to a strong simmer and cook for 30 minutes, partially covered. The water volume should reduce by about 1/3. Towards the end, mash dates against the sides of the pan with a spoon, letting them further release their sweetness. Strain the liquid and collect black sesame seeds in a large strainer.
2. Pour the strained liquid back into the saucepan, add one cup of almond or almond-sesame milk and reheat gently. Add sweetener of choice, if needed (I find the subtle sweetness from dates to be enough). Optionally blend at high speed to make it foamy. Enjoy hot.
Note: Optionally, you can dry the leftover black sesame seeds for future use. To do that, spread them on a baking sheet and keep them in the oven at the lowest temperature for a couple of hours. When almost completely dried, turn off the oven and leave the seeds in until the oven is cold.
2 cups homemade almond-sesame milk (see recipe below) – warmed if desired
2 tablespoons toasted black sesame seeds – ground in a coffee grinder
any preferred sweetener – to taste.
Combine all the ingredients in a blender until well combined and frothy. Enjoy hot or cold.
Almond Sesame Milk
1 cup almonds
1/4 cup unhulled sesame seeds
Soak almonds and sesame seeds in purified water overnight. Drain by catching the seeds in a fine-mesh strainer, rinse under cold water. Combine nuts and seeds in a strong blender with 4 cups of purified water. Blend until smooth. Strain through a nut bag or cheese cloth. Keep refrigerated for up to 3 days.