Water flavoured with pears, cinnamon sticks and cloves

It is essential to stay hydrated.

A statement we hear all the time. I always wondered why we needed all the reminders! But then we often hear statements like: “I don’t drink water”, “I hardly ever drink any water” or may have experienced days when “I simply forget to drink water”!! On the other hand there are those who believe that any liquid can take the place of water. For instance, I often hear some say that they drink a lot of coffee and therefore that keeps them hydrated so “no need for water on its own”! And let’s leave the soda beverage drinkers, who believe that drinking those sodas makes up for all the hydration they need in any given day, to their own ways, because there is no convincing some people that not only are those sodas terrible for their health, but they as well as coffee are a factor that aids the body’ dehydration!

You guys, our bodies do not function properly without proper hydration. Fatigue, headaches, water retention, blood circulation problems, skin health issues, digestive issues as well as many mental and emotional issues could be caused by and greatly affected by dehydration!!! And nothing rehydrates the body like water does. And make sure to note that all other liquids – because they contain other elements such as caffeine, sugar and at times also a compound of chemicals – cannot take the place of water, as those components aid dehydration and some of them even prevent our cells from absorbing the necessary water needed for their function. As such, do not think that 20 cups of coffee a day mean you are well hydrated, in fact, the reason why in the Middle East (Turks, Persians and the Arab communities) water is always served alongside coffee, because coffee in fact aids dehydration and with each cup of coffee you must consume a cup of water to counterpart that! (I will not even entertain those sodas!)

Now, I am one of those people who find it hard to sip on plain water all the time, and while I make sure I do, I also help the process by flavouring the water instead of just having the plain water all the time. Besides helping me drink my daily intake, this flavouring of water also helped completely take Sodas out of my life. I no longer feel the need to have those or the urge as I did before, say when in a hot summer day you may want to sip on a refreshing soft drink… It has also tremendously reduced the amount of caffeine I consume a day. When I would have poured myself a tea or coffee whenever I took a break, I now reach out for my amazing water bottles and sip on flavoured water instead! I love them and really enjoy the non-sugar laden, in fact the sugar free, not too concentrated hints of flavour that I get from these water infusions I make. For instance in the afternoon I like to sip on a bold spicy flavour to kick my brain back into action, as it starts getting lazy from all the work done since the early morning. I find ginger infused water, or cloves and cinnamon, or even chili infused water to be very stimulating for my brain. Check out the combination in the picture above: Pears, cinnamon and cloves. After the gym in the morning, I love cucumber infused water as it really is refreshing, rehydrating and somehow makes me keep my energy levels instead of drawn in low energy. For my guests, I like serving them fruity waters with ice, not only do those taste good but they also look gorgeous always. Then when am having a cold, or looking for extra a vitamin C, or simply with breakfast, all types of citrus infused water is amazing, either one flavour alone or a combination of some… You get the drift. Really there is no limit to the varieties you can make, the combinations.

 

All you need to do is slice a few things (whatever you have at hand: cucumbers/oranges and limes/lemongrass/chilies/ginger root/apples….) place them in a pitcher, pour water, add ice and keep close with a few glasses. Sip away. At times when you are sizzling things up, add some spices or an herbs.. and sip away!

 

Lime, Cucumber & Mint Infused Water (one of my all time favourites)

Now, you are going to tell me that flavoured waters are everywhere in the supermarkets and why should you make your own and not buy them, and who has time and all that. Well, yes you can and go ahead and do. If you are asking why I do these things: then it’s because I find the flavour of my very carefully picked, superior quality ingredients, and my fresh produce, seasonal flavours as well as creativity in making these way better than anything I can purchase in the supermarket, which is most likely artificially flavoured, enhanced, preserved and quite simply dead! Yes, that’s right. Dead! When I slice a cucumber that I bought at the farmers market in the morning, that had been picked that very same morning, that cucumber is still alive and that is why it is fresh and pungent. That does not compare in anyway with cucumber essence or a week old cucumber! I choose that and encourage you to do so too (both for flavour and wellbeing). Anyhow proof is in the pudding as they say, so do try both one day at the same time and see what you think and if you can detect that medicinal flavour in artificial flavourings. That does not interest me, and I can, despite my very busy schedule, slice a few ingredients, pour water and drink!

 

Smoked Water

It is worth mentioning here that flavoured water has always been very popular in the Middle East! And while the most obvious method of flavouring water is to add fruits, you can also focus the Middle Eastern flavours if you use a tsp of orange blossom water or rose water…etc.

With that said, the most interesting flavoured water ever is the old traditional Arabic method. As in old traditions, people used to flavour water by flavouring the container or pitcher, mainly by smoking it with the aroma of burning bakhoor, frankincense, or mistka (AKA Arabic gum or mastic) or otherwise with the smoke of the burning skin of citrus fruits. Basically, one of those ingredients will be placed over burning charcoal and once smoking the container or pitcher will be placed, upside down and slightly away from the heat, to absorb all the smoke (for a minute or so). This way the container will absorb the aromas which will then be absorbed by the water. This is best done in a container that can be closed with a lid in order to seal the aromas.

The easiest way to carry this out at home is by placing a piece of lit charcoal over a few folds of foil paper placed on a heat proof dish, then sprinkling the aromatics over it. Once smoking place the pitcher upside down over the smoke and allow it to fill up. Pour the water in and seal with the lid. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

*Please note that this is best done in a well ventilated room, near a window, or you will be showered by fire fighting sprinklers!

 

You see, back in the day flavouring water was way more interesting! This is an excellent way to serve water to guests and especially in Ramadan after Iftar. It goes without say that especially in Ramadan it is essential to stay well hydrated and those fasting have a lot of making up to do after a long day’s fast. For the fasting, the notion of thirst alone makes them reach out to water all through the evening, therefore a pitcher and a few glasses of water are always good placed at the centre table for everyone to sip on and rehydrate.

 

You might also enjoy reading the post on “Tea Traditions in The Middle East” on this link.

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