Friday, December 27, 2013

Drink Recipe: Karkade (Hibiscus Hot or Iced Tea كركديه) ... Awesome Cigar pairing

As promised, here is my latest discovery of a another wonderful cigar pairing... Karkade or the Hibiscus Tea! Whether you drink it hot or cold or iced out like what I did, it will sure accompany your favorite smokes no matter how complex they are.

Image Courtesy of Wikipedia

Just to give you a brief about Hibiscus Tea, though Lord Google or Wikipedia would do a better job, is a type of herbal tea made from the Sepals and Calyces of the Hibiscus Flower. Hibiscus tea is consumed around the world with each having their own style of preparation and own names. For example, in Central & south America, the Hibiscus Tea is known as "Agua de Jamaica" or "Rosa de Jamaica". While in North Africa and parts of Europe is usually referred to as "Karkade" كركديه or "Italian Tea".

Dried Hibiscus

There seem to be many benefits relating to drinking Hibiscus Tea such as vitamins and minerals, but most notably is it helps lower blood pressure. Some studies indicates that drinking Hot Hibiscus Tea will help elevate low blood pressure and if consumed Cold it may help lower it. But please don't take my word for it and consult with your doctor if you are unsure!

But for our main reason, its a killer pairing with your smoke... lets take a look at how I make 'em:

Ingrediants to make approx Two liters:

  • 2 Liters of Water
  • 2 Cup of dried Hibiscus
  • 1 Cup of Sugar (+/- depending on taste... you can always add later)
  • 20 ml of Orange Blossom Water (optional)

In a large pan, dissolve the 1 cup of sugar in the 2 liter water and bring to a boil.

Rinse off the dried Hibiscus under cold running water for a few seconds to get rid of any dirt then dump it into the boiling sugar/water mixture and lower the heat.

Slowly keep stirring the mixture and simmer for 5 minutes then add the Orange Blossom water and turn heat off.  Let the Hibiscus steep until it falls down to the bottom of the pot. 

At this Point you should reward yourself with a nice Hot Karkade, pour into your favorite mug using a fine strainer & enjoy... Keep the rest in the pot to completely cool down (you can steep it from an Hour to 6 Hours if you want your drink to be extra dense but do not for beyond that)

Once the Mixture is cooled down you can go ahead and strain it into a jug for easy bottling. Once bottled it can be stored in the Refrigerator for up to 7 days.

To prepare your cooler or Iced Karkade (Hibiscus Tea): Crush some Ice and fill the cup then slowly pour the Karkade over the ice and enjoy that red liquid filling up. Alternate method is you can blitz in a blender a handful of ice cubes and 250mls of Karkade until you achieve a smoothie consistency.

Right before drinking, I took a wedge of lime and squeezed into my Karkade for that extra zing and light up a La Aroma De Cuba Mi Amor Reserva to relax for the night.

 There you have it folks... a wonderful smooth refreshing drink! Salut!


Monday, December 2, 2013

Vintage Encounters (Part 2) - Cubatabaco 25th Aniversario Humidor 1987

If you thought the Pre-1960s H. Upmann Cristales (Corona) post was cool, then fasten your seat belts for this one! Not to exaggerate, but literally, the hair on the back of my neck stood the moment I was face to face with this treasure. To some, this item might be considered as the Holy Grail of Cubatabaco, which myself, lucky again, got the opportunity to be up close and personal with one.

Quick History lesson:
Following the Cuban Revolution when Fidel Castro assumed power, the Ministry for the Recovery of Misappropriated Assets (Ministerio de Recuperación de Bienes Malversados) was created to expropriate land and private property as part of the newly formed socialist government. Farms, lands, businesses, and companies were nationalized and in 1962, Cubatobaco was formed to be responsible for Cuba's cigar production and sales.

image courtesy

Cubatabaco handled all production and distribution of Cuban tobacco products both locally and internationally until 1994, when the company Habanos S.A. was formed to export the cigars worldwide.

image courtesy

Not until 2001 when the production of Cuban cigars went to a company named Tabacuba while Cubatabaco continues to own the Cuban cigar brand names until this day.

During this era, Cubatabaco released 2 special Commemorative humidors under their own Trademark brand name. The 25th Aniversario Cubatabaco 1987 which commemorates the 25th anniversary of Cubatabaco and the 1992 - 1492 Humidor which commemorates the 500th anniversary of Columbus' "discovery" of tobacco.

So lets take a look at this treasure...

1987 - 25th Aniversario Humidor

Length: 14.2 cm
Ring Gauge: 42
Factory Name: Corona
Vitola: Coronas
Type: Corona
Presentation: 50 cigar Humidor (only 100 made)
Release Date: 1987

This was the first commemorative humidor produced since the Revolution and since there are only a 100 made... its extremely rare to find and in such pristine condition!

Beautiful lacquered finish with its original key lock and a gold stamped Cubatabaco logo on the face

These 26+ year old coronas are in prefect condition and has an invigorating strong herbal scent unlike and Cuban I have smelled before! I can't even imagine how they will smoke!

 Up close and personal while examining the band and taking a closer whiff of this rare beauty!

As fragile and rare these treasures are, I could't let this one rest! I would have loved to smoke one but these are kept for a very very very special occasion which I totally respect. Plus the owner of this humidor would probably choke me if I asked him to. I'll probably would be on the first plane back to try one once he decides to light one up!

Again, I couldn't thank the man enough for giving me the opportunity to document this treasure. Ajay Patel from La Casa Del Habano in Teddington, UK... you're the man!

I'll probably will follow-up on this post with a review from Ajay once he smoke this beauty. But for now, please enjoy this exclusive post!