When our company launched TeaTime magazine several years ago, we knew there was an audience of tea drinkers and people who loved the ceremony of tea. Lorna Reeves is the editor of TeaTime and has led this magazine to accept the 2014 World Tea Award for Best Tea Publication.
She is a leading authority on tea and a much-sought-after speaker for her knowledge of tea and the beauty of celebrating tea events. I am so excited that she is our guest blogger today and know that you will love her post.
For as long as I can remember, I have enjoyed tea—that is, iced tea. It wasn’t until adulthood that I came to appreciate hot tea. That was some 20 years ago at an event Hoffman Media hosted in Williamsburg, Virginia, when I was editor of one of the needlework magazines we used to publish. While there, I had the privilege of having afternoon tea at the Williamsburg Inn. I was hooked, and became obsessed with Earl Grey tea. Then, a few years before I became editor of TeaTime magazine, I learned about the various tea types (white, green, oolong, black, and puerh) and that they require different water temperatures and steeping times. (If you don’t like green, white, or oolong tea because it tastes bitter, you might want to revisit your steeping methods. Try water at 175–190° degrees instead of boiling [212°], and infuse for no more than 3 minutes.) I couldn’t believe what I had been missing! And I continue to learn as I taste new teas and try new blends.
Even when the weather is warm, I still enjoy drinking hot tea. I know that may sound odd, especially since I live in the South, where when someone says tea, they usually mean iced sweet tea. Such tea is often dark and heavily sweetened. I find that good-quality tea properly prepared rarely needs sugar, though some would argue that a touch of sweetener can enhance some flavored teas.
At a recent dinner party, I served a variety of unsweetened iced teas—some flavored, some not—and told my guests that a pitcher of simple syrup was on the table for sweetening to taste. (To make simple syrup, combine equal parts hot water and sugar, stirring until sugar dissolves. Let cool before using.) I suggested they try their tea selection first to determine if sweetener was even necessary. My friend Lisa took a sip of the raspberry white tea and remarked that though she normally prefers sweet tea, that tea was so good, it didn’t need sugar.
One challenge of serving iced tea (sweetened or not) is that the ice cubes can dilute the tea as they melt. In the following recipe, which has appeared in TeaTime, we found a tasty way to solve that. This iced tea is one of my new favorites because it is a fruity adaptation of my old favorite hot tea—Earl Grey. For this recipe, we freeze peach nectar in ice-cube trays. That serves as the ice, the fruit flavor, and the sweetener for the tea all in one. Give it a try! I think you’ll find it so tasty and easy, you’ll want to make it all summer long. Cheers!
Summertime Peach Iced Tea
Fresh mint leaves
1 (11.3-ounce) can peach nectar
2 quarts cold water
8 teaspoons Summertime Earl Grey loose-leaf tea, such as Simpson & Vail (svtea.com)
• Place 1 mint leaf in each section of 2 (18-well) ice-cube trays. Divide peach nectar among prepared wells of ice-cube trays, and freeze completely.
• Bring cold water to a boil.
• Place tea leaves in a 2-quart or larger teapot or saucepan with lid. Pour boiling water over tea leaves. Steep, covered, for 3 minutes, then strain, and pour into a heatproof container.
Refrigerate until cold.
• When ready to serve, fill glasses halfway with peach-nectar ice cubes. Pour iced tea over ice cubes to cover.
Tell us: What’s your favorite type of tea?