Nearly everyone loves gingerbread from elaborate cookie houses to cookie men sporting gumdrops, to decadent spiced loaves. This year in Colorado, a 12 foot tall and 150 square-foot gingerbread chapel was erected in the Broadmoore Hotel, which took 220 hours and an army of chefs to create. And the hotel lobby bar (a.k.a. Santa’s Tavern) at the JW Marriott in Los Angeles, is made with 1,300 pounds of gingerbread! This was the best we could do in 2010!
Gingerbread is considered any baked good typically flavored with ginger, cloves, nutmeg or cinnamon and sweetened with honey, sugar or molasses. In the 15th century, the term gingerbread was used to refer to tasty treats. Though typically associated with Christmas, these hard cookies were served all year, with the shapes changing to reflect the seasons. Queen Elizabeth I is credited with the idea of decorating cookies. Gingerbread houses, often decorated with gold leaf, were first conceived in Germany during the 16th century. They gained popularity after the Brothers Grimm wrote the well-known story of Hansel and Gretel, with the witch’s house of sweets.
In my cup today is Teavana’s Gingerbread tea, a black looseleaf tea that is low in caffeine, but with the aroma and flavours associated with the Christmas season. This tea is spiced with cinnamon (root and bark), chicory root, candied ginger, apple, cloves, cardamom, red currants, and cocoa-covered popcorn. Yes, popcorn! Many of these spices, like ginger, provide some health benefits, and the popcorn is just plain fun!
I found the predominant flavour to be clove and ginger, and I missed the richer flavour of molasses, but in terms of a hot and spicy seasonal cuppa’, this was certainly a taste of Christmas!
For more information on history of gingerbread or for recipes visit PBS’ Tori Avey.