White Coffee: A Soothing, Caffeine-Free Drink from Lebanon

One of the most pleasurable cups of coffee I've ever sipped wasn't actually made from coffee beans at all – it was Lebanese "white coffee," a soothing tisane made from sweet-scented orange flower water. The first time I had this beverage was at a Lebanese restaurant in Paris; everyone else at my table ordered coffee and when I declined, the waiter offered to bring me his favorite after-dinner drink. What he served was a warm cup of ahwah baida, also known as white coffee or café blanc. After a big meal, it tasted clean and relaxing and made a lovely caffeine-free alternative to coffee.

Invented in Beirut, this drink couldn't be simpler to make – just a splash of orange blossom water stirred into a cup of boiling water (a little can go a long way, so use a light hand). Some people add sugar or honey. Since that dinner in Paris, I have continued to make it at home, as a digestif or alongside afternoon snacks of dried fruit and nuts. On a hot day, it can also be poured over ice.

Get a recipe: Orange Blossom "white coffee" at Rose Water & Orange Blossoms

Related: Recipe: Lemon Verbena and Orange Blossom Fizz

(Images: Emily Ho)

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