Fresno , CA
Let's Talk about Tea
The crisp tang in the air and a fresh, stiff breeze have rushed in to announce the arrival of Fall. The beginning of a new season presents an opportunity to invigorate old routines and improve existing habits. What better way to revitalize the hum-drum of back-to-school season or soothe away the loss of summer Fridays than to throw a tea party and revive an elegant and enduring tradition?
Before there were fondue parties or martini parties, the quintessential get-together was the tea party. With the many different types of teas and tea parties that exist to tempt groups of all tastes and ages to indulge in the comfort of taking tea, it is no wonder this classic tradition is still popular today.
For variety, try one of these variations on the timeless tea party:
Afternoon Tea: served at four o'clock and can be served formally in a dining room or more casually in the kitchen or outdoors in a garden. Afternoon Tea can include many different treats such as cookies, sandwiches, scones or fruit tarts. Many mistake Afternoon Tea for High Tea.
High Tea: served at six o'clock and was originally used as a light supper. An entrée is usually served along with salad, cheese, fruit, biscuits, breads and topped off with sweets. High Tea is traditionally a formal get-together.
Cream Tea: Afternoon Tea featuring scones and clotted cream.
Light Tea: a lighter variation on Afternoon Tea and is best served with scones and sweets.
Full Tea: a complete four-course Afternoon Tea with sandwiches, scones, sweets, and concluded with a dessert.
Royal Tea: Full Tea with a glass of champagne.
Farmer's Tea: popular in British Pubs, a combination of heavy grained bread, sharp cheese, fruit, sausages or minced meat pie (also referred to as a Ploughman’s Lunch), and served with a sweet.
Try one, try two, try a few of them out! Find the tea party that fits your new tradition.
As the mercury breaks 100°F plus on these hot summer days a great way to make some tea without heating up your kitchen is to use the power of the sun to make sun tea.
Put your favorite tea into a clean 2 quart glass container. Fill with water and cap. Place outside where the sunlight can strike the container for about 3 to 5 hours. Move the container if necessary to keep it in the sun. When the tea has reached its desired strength, remove from sun and put it in the refrigerator. You may or may not want to remove the tea bags at this point. I usually don't.
The tea will probably taste more mellow than what you are used to from using boiling water. The slow seeping has a way of bringing out a slightly different flavor from the tea. Also, because you didn't use boiling water, you should refrigerate the tea and drink it up pretty quickly - a day or two. It will not keep as well as iced tea made from boiling water.
I usually make sun tea with various forms of herbal tea. Sometimes you can put in a few sprigs of fresh mint as well.
The hottest cold drink this summer may surprise you because it isn’t the usual fruit juice, soft drink or lemonade. Its iced tea and its growing popularity at home as well as at full service and fast food restaurants is evidenced by consumers’ thirst-quenching preference for fresh-brewed, flavored, exotic and specialty teas over more traditional beverage choices.
In the past decade, more varieties of iced tea have become increasingly available and consumers have been experimenting with the wide array of choices. For some, tea opens up a new world of flavors where creativity has no bounds, fueling the tea trend and allowing consumers to find tea in unexpected and exciting new places. Helping to fuel the iced tea explosion are expanding supermarket and menu offerings that include flavored teas that are made with spices, juice, fruit or other flavorings that are served up in creative, eye-appealing ways.
We all know the story of how iced tea came to be. Richard Blechynden, a young Englishman, had traveled from Calcutta, India to exhibit teas from the Far East at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis. But the weather was stifling hot, and fairgoers were uninterested in the hot tea that Mr. Blechynden was peddling. Pure desperation led him to experiment by pouring the tea over ice, and by the end of the fair, iced tea had become very popular.
America is unique in its tea consumption habits in that approximately 40 billion of the 50 billion cups – or 80 percent -- consumed in the United States each year are over ice. Tea is the second most commonly consumed beverage in the world next to water. In the Southern states, residents enjoy what they call “sweet tea” as part of Southern hospitality.
June is National Iced Tea Month, which makes it an ideal time to raise a glass in celebration of this cool, versatile, calorie-free beverage. So whether your taste buds prefer sweetened, flavored, spiced or just plain brewed, enjoy the delicious, refreshing taste of iced tea as the perfect summertime drink.