Nước mát, a common Vietnamese iced tea made from artichoke (atisô) and pandan leaves (lá dua) literally means refreshing or cooling water. In the sweltering heat of summer, it’s so much easier and tempting to order a glass or two of nước mát then to call it nước atisô lá dua. Don’t you just love the practicality of the Vietnamese people?
When Hong’s family was in town for our wedding, all 40 of them, we brewed so many gallons of nước mát we lost count. It was the perfect thirst quencher that pleased both kids and adults alike because the combination of artichoke and pandan is so fragrant and not only just refreshing. For the adults, it reminded them of the drink they had in Vietnam and for the kids, many trying this for the first time, it made them forget their caffeinated sodas.
Water, artichokes, and pandan leaves are all you need. Sweeten to taste with either sugar, rock sugar or even honey. Some prefer very lightly sweetened while others more heavy handed. Always serve chilled.
Nuoc Mat - Artichoke and Pandan Iced Tea
Yield: 1 gallon (double recipe for more)
2-3 whole artichokes
1 small bunch of fresh pandan leaves, tied together with twine (frozen can be substituted if fresh is not available)
1 gallon of water
sugar (honey, rock sugar, palm sugar or any type of sweetener is ok)
In large pot bring water to boil. Add pandan leaves and artichoke and reduce heat to a gentle simmer and cover for about 1.5-2 hrs or until the artichokes are completely soft. Remove pandan and artichokes (save artichokes for dip?) While water is still hot, add desired amount of sugar to taste and stir until dissolved. Allow to cool before siphoning to serving container. Served chilled.