Quentão Brazilian Drink

Quentão, Brazilian Drink

I wasn’t exactly in a cozy room when I tried Quentão, a Brazilian spiced tea made with chachaça, but I quickly immersed myself in the excitement of this rich drink while sitting in a snack bar in Teresópolis, a mountain town about one-hour away from Rio de Janeiro.

Teresópolis allows us, Cariocas (people born in Rio), a fake-winter excuse to wear warm sweatshirts and boots, while sitting by the fireplace with a coffee cup, as the local weather is at least some 20 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than Rio itself.

In Portuguese the word quente means hot (quentão=super hot). By tradition, the tea is prepared with flavorful spices such as cinnamon stick, lemongrass, ginger, cloves, star anis, and some sugar, and finished with cachaça.

As I taste the rusticity of this Brazilian cider-like-alcoholic-tea, hints of ginger, cinnamon and lemongrass filled my mouth with warm sensations, with a slight undertone of pepper from the cachaça.

If quentão promotes cozy feelings in the mild winters of Teresopolis, imagine what fantasies it would promote during a snowstorm in the American northeast? Its warmth, balanced by a lingering peppery sweetness surely promises happy endings, or at least, to ease the winter blues.

 

Quentão

 

Serves 4

 

1 L (4 cups) water

1 large piece of fresh ginger (about ¼ lb), peeled and roughly chopped

2 limes cut into 4 pieces

3 to 4 cinnamon sticks

1 lemongrass, roughly chopped

6 cloves

3 star-anise

1 cup sugar

I bottle (750 ml, or about 3 cups) cachaça

 

Place all the ingredients except the cachaça in a large sauce-pan and bring to a boil over high heat. Once it reaches a boil turn off the heat and cover the pan with a tight lid. Let it steep for 20 minutes. Add the cachaça, mix well, and strain the liquid. Serve hot. Keep the left over in a plastic container in the fridge and re-heat before serving.

 

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