by Katie Cyr
Ahh . . . summer. The sky is bright, the days are long, the weather warm and my tea is . . . well, hot. For a tea lover like myself, who also happens to love summer, I find the one downside of such a lovely season is not being able to enjoy my cuppa while basking in the sweet rays of sunlight. Have you, dear reader, ever brought your favorite mug of tea out on the patio, only to find yourself breaking out in a sweat within the first two sips? I bet you’d also like to take a tumbler of your favorite blend to the beach, without getting heat stroke. What’s a tea lover to do?
Two words: Iced tea! I used to be disdainful toward iced tea, thinking only of powdered concoctions involving low-grade tea and tons of sugar. Now, with so many delicious loose-leaf tea varieties, you can really experiment to make easy, delicious and, most importantly, healthy iced tea for you and your family to enjoy.
Recently I’ve been experimenting with what teas taste great iced. I wanted to venture away from the traditional black iced tea and try something new. Here are three blends to experiment with. Many natural products stores carry dried herbs and tea in bulk. I also offer these blends at my tea store, Monarch Tea.
Sencha Green Tea with Rose Petals and Cherry
I had great luck blending a sencha green tea with rose petals and cherries. It’s naturally sweet, so no sugar is needed. Simply add some dried cherries and rose petals to the sencha. You receive great metabolism-boosting benefits from the green tea as well as loads of antioxidants and vitamins.
Orange, Apple, Hibiscus Tea Cooler
Another unique, refreshing blend that is surprising in its depth and flavor is orange peel, apple peel, hibiscus and rosehip. They come together to create a caffeine-free fruity infusion that’s perfect for kids and adults alike. It does have a hint of tartness to it, so I often add a bit of honey or agave to give it a slightly sweet taste. This tea is also packed with vitamins, especially vitamin C, which rosehip and hibiscus are rich in. It can be added as well to summer coolers and even sangria. Pour it into Popsicle molds to create a zero-calorie refreshing treat.
Traditional Iced Tea with Mango
If you’re looking for something more traditional, try organic black tea with some dried mango. The mango infuses the black tea with a fruity fusion. They taste fantastic hot or iced, and make a wonderful addition to any patio table.
Iced Tea Prep Tips
Now that you’re inspired to start brewing, here are some guidelines for making your iced tea.
As with any iced tea, you want to brew the tea first, using the correct-temperature hot water and proper steeping time. The only difference with iced tea is that it’s important to add double the amount of tea to strengthen the tea. Once you add ice to your tea, it’s going to dilute; so brewing double strength helps maintain that rich, full-bodied taste you’re looking for.
With green and white tea, the leaves are delicate, and therefore boiling water will singe them. It’s best to have your water at 175°F and steep for 2.5 minutes. With black tea, use boiling water and steep for up to 5 minutes or to taste. You don’t want to leave your tea for too long or it will become bitter. Once your tea is done steeping, pour over ice, top with an additional few ice cubes, and you’re ready to enjoy. If you’re making a cup for just yourself, use 2 teaspoons of tea.
Making iced tea for a crowd? Pitcher sizes vary, but generally one cup of loose-leaf tea for a large pitcher will do the job. Make your tea in a large pot and pour over ice when ready. Sweeten to taste and prepare to appreciate a whole new way of drinking tea!