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Dry January - any tips, thoughts, suggestions?

Yay !!! 2 weeks down, 1st Jan seems a long time ago.

Made Seville marmalade today - some of the jars had a spoonful of smokey malt whisky (Margadale / peated Bunnahabhain) and a few jars with vintage 2004 port from the decanter I didn’t finish before starting dry Jan. Strange not to have a sip of either beforehand for quality control purposes.

Lady Lapin has pre-allocated them all to friends ! I shall have to make some more.


So I ended up ordering a bottle of that Sparkling Tea, and at £22 when you take in to account P&P I can’t imagine it’s going to be a regular purchase but looking forward to trying it next weekend.

I have also received an order for a couple of bottles of Noughty which I will try tomorrow I think. Not a fan of the name but again seems like some decent reviews, I think it’s now available at Waitrose as well.

Will update on the weekend! Will be nice to have that separation from work into the weekend again but Dry Jan has not been particularly difficult for me.

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Let us know how it is? sounds interesting.

@MikeFranklin If you get the chance to travel to SE Asia or China you should seek out one of the specialist tea shops that can be found there. You can find 50+, maybe more, different (‘china’) teas that have subtly different tastes and for some, tea connoisseurs may pay £25 or even £100 an ounce. These are teas from a particular famous plot or ‘tea-yard’ and need to be appreciated by brewing in very small teapots - never at more than 90deg C - and sipped from tiny teacups. Best also to use spring water boiled in a glass kettle to avoid extraneous tastes as the flavours can be very delicate.

A good tea (leaf) shop may have a tasting area (like a wine tasting room) where they will sit you down and brew you a cup of your likely purchase if you wish. They will probably not break open a sealed pack of the £100 teas for you to try though! Such shops are probably quite few and far between in SE Asia these days (don’t really know about situation in China/Taiwan) and you may have to enquire with the aged habitues loitering in the local coffee or tea shop to find them rather than enquire with the 20yr old trainee in the Tourist Office.


I don’t go quite that far (but maybe wish I could) but I do have in the house Jasmine Pearls, Jasmine Silver Needles Ying Shen, Huang Shan Ya Jasmine, Gunpowder Formosa Green Tea and a couple of green tea based Earl Grey variants. So I’m good for now. I would like to expand further maybe in the future. The most expensive of those is the Silver Needles at £21 for 100g so some way down from those prices, but quite enough for me! :smiley:

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Good reminder - I have some premium bai hao yin zhen (silver needles) and have made a pot to see me through the rest of Friday afternoon. Tastes better on the 3rd fill of hot water.

A few years ago I worked for a couple of weeks in Guiyang in Guizhou province China. Had osmanthus tea - pure dried tiny yellow flowers, not blended with any actual tea. Really good, it’s delicate scented honeysuckle, jasmine, saffron.

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I’m giving this non-alcoholic Old Fashioned a go this evening.

It’s currently in the fridge, but my first taste while warm my first thought was that I think the orange and spices could have done with longer steeping to balance with the tea, however it was pretty pleasant.


Well I broke dry January to celebrate securing a new 5yr contract with the company that outsources quite a lot of IT services with my company. Wasn’t really expecting it.
Best of luck to those that see it through.


Congratulations! I’m not going to ask what you broke it with here, but will have a quick look in the weekend drinking thread.

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You inspired me to have a crack as well. My first thought when warm was that 2.5 tsp of cayenne pepper was a bit prominent… look forward to hearing how yours ends up, I’ll try mine tomorrow and report back.

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I’ve not made one up properly yet (ice isn’t yet frozen!), but from trying the syrup, you may well be right.

I guess the idea is to get the alcohol ‘heat’ from the pepper, but i think maybe I’d rather just have more of the other flavours. We’ll see!

I’m not doing dry January, but I will be cooking the first batch of Seville orange marmelade tomorrow - perfect antidote to the freezing wintry weather. Incidentally, the cooking and tasting of citrus fruit is, for me, quite an anti-wine activity (but not as good as toothpaste).


I’ve been writing a blog post about it too. The important bits are

"It’s OK. Not amazing, nor an Old Fashioned. I wasn’t expecting amazing, or an Old Fashioned, and it’s certainly a lot better than I thought it was going to be. It definitely has some complexity to it, it’s not as well integrated as a real old fashioned would be and you can definitely taste the individual ingredients rather than a whole balanced drink. It was possibly down to my mistake with the cayenne timing (although this meant less, rather than more contact) but it’s a bit too hot for my taste. I guess they’re trying to replicate some heat from the whisky, but it’s a different type of heat that doesn’t quite translate, being very much on the lips here rather than whisky’s mouth warming tendencies. If I do it again (and I might) I think I’ll do the steeping the citrus peel and spices for longer than the tea, so they come through a bit more and go easier on the cayenne. Not bad for a first foray though. "


I highly recommend the added smoky whisky - a teaspoon or two into the (hot) jamjar before pouring in the 105deg hot marmalade. Jar doesn’t crack, whisky does not have a chance to evaporate - just sort of blends in. Port was less successful, still good but it somehow confused the taste of the seville marmalade (perhaps needs time in jar to ‘marry’ ?)


I’ve not tried adding whisky to the jar as I’ve only just cracked achieving a reasonable ‘set’ and haven’t wanted to risk it thinning too much, although I can imagine that it really adds to the taste. Perhaps this is the year to give it a go?!

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I had the same issues with getting a set. Here’s what works for me:

  1. Vital to do a pectin test before adding sugar, using meths. You need a single jelled lump.
  2. Add twice as much sugar as original weight of fruit.
  3. Added quantity of water isn’t that critical, because you boil most of it off (after adding sugar) to achieve 105deg C. But it’s good to use a smaller amount because shorter boiling = less loss in volatile oils & aromas.

This produces a strongly setting marmalade, so it can take a teaspoon of whisky to a 1 lb jar.

I use a W.I. recipe, cos they must be the ultimate in Jam knowledge. Hope it turns out OK !


So I enjoyed it, but agree it’s not an old fashioned. The cinnamon was too strong in my mix, for one thing, and I agree with you @strawpig about having depth but tasting the elements separately. Actually for me the cayenne heat worked really well when it was chilled down, lost that cayenne taste which was distracting last night. It also made it more of a sipper than a gulper, which made it feel more classy like.

Glad I had nearly all the ingredients already (substituted light brown soft sugar for the called for light muscovado, and tangerine peel for orange…) but not sure I’d rush to make it again. That said I’m looking forward to the rest of the batch.

Roll on February and a proper old fashioned though… or a negroni, or a Manhattan, etc etc


So we did enjoy having this but wasn’t necessarily for the taste. I wanted something that would mentally give me the feeling of having a drink to separate the weekend from the weekday, and I must say it did kind of work. The feeling of getting it from the fridge, popping the cork, pouring and topping up as froth settles all plays into it.

Taste wise, it’s fine - it’s kind of a muddled mix of some resemblance to any cheap generic bottle of fizz with a little bit of acidity, and a bit soda watery in the emptiness of alcohol.

For 9 quid a bottle I’m not convinced but it’s not disgusting. Have higher hopes with the sparkling tea which might have some more complexity in taste.

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I am wondering what this syrup would taste like mixed 50/50 with rye. I’m also interested to see what it tastes like once the syrup has had a chance to mature a little.