Right now I am spending some time in eastern Humboldt County California exploring the flavors of the wild in the Six-Rivers and Trinity mountain areas. If there is one thing I have learned this summer traveling both the coastal and inland areas of the greatest county in California is that the invasive Himalayan blackberry is everywhere you look with fruit begging to be picked–and pick it you should.
What is the Himalayan blackberry?
This is a prolific and very invasive cane fruit not native to California that has delicious fruit that matures in the summer and is good to pick all the way through to the fall–even when the berries are dry and shriveled on the canes.
When you pick this invasive fruit and cook it or grind it to denature the live seed you are taking an active part in preventing the spread of the viable seed into the environment–as well as creating the most delightfully flavored drink and cuisine that commercial store-bought blackberries cannot hold a candle to. These wild invasive fruits have terroir, and have have flavor and size relative to the places they grow. In more wet areas like the Humboldt coast they are large and sweet by the end of summer with just a little bit of tartness. And here in eastern Humboldt in the hot summer produces fruit that is exceptionally sweet and concentrated.
In my new book, High Tea, I share the special place in my heart that the Himalayan blackberry has with a selection of my favorite recipes including a very special chai tea that pairs Humboldt county cannabis with the invasive Himalayan blackberry of this area.
The recipe that follows is a variation of the recipe found in my new book, High Tea, and uses coconut milk which makes this delightful chai free of major allergens for everyone of sensitive constitution or palate. Makes 2 – 4 servings.
A handful of wild, fresh, Humboldt county invasive Himalayan blackberries
2 teaspoons or 5 grams of Black Mist or another dark/black cinnamon oolong loose leaf tea or any black tea you prefer. Cinnamon oolong makes the best chai flavors for this recipe
1 thumb-size slice of fresh Madagascar vanilla bean
1 cup or 240 milliliters of coconut milk
1 – 1 1/2 cups of boiling water
2 or more servings of decarbed cannabis oil or butter (made with a clean, low-fragrance hashish)
Sweetener to taste
1. Bring the water to a boil with the blackberries and vanilla bean added before you start the heating process. Allow these to steep in the hot water for 10 minutes or more and mash the berries to release all of the juices before straining. After this has been strained, heat the flavorful water infused with the berries and vanilla again, remove from the heat, and add the tea. Steep the tea in the infused water for at least 5 minutes. Strain and keep warm.
2. Warm the coconut milk gently with the sweetener and the cannabis oil added to the milk. Remove from the stove when you begin to see a waif of steam rise and then add this to the warm infused tea and stir.
3. Serve in individual cups with a fresh blackberry or blackberry blossom to garnish. Enjoy!