Iced tea, it does a summer good.

I understand, it’s starting to get hot out there. In DC, we have four seasons. Unfortunately for us, spring and fall are only two weeks long, combined. So while the calendar says May, in the nation’s capitol we are heading into summer. And not everyone appreciates the taste of a hot cuppa on a hot summers day. Sorry Mom.

I am not a fan of letting tea bags sit in a pitcher on the counter or in the refrigerator for hours. Sun tea is just wrong. So iced tea starts pretty much the same as the hot stuff.   You want the most taste you can get from your tea and that means starting with cold tap water and bringing it to a rolling boil. You can skip the teapot and pour the hot tea into your cup (or carafe if you are making a pitcher)  and steep the tea to your desired strength.

Now comes the a la mode moment. Just one small change, one added step and your hot cuppa is elevated to an icy cold thirst quencher. No really, I am not kidding you. Just follow me here. Fill a larger glass (or pitcher) to the very tip-top with ice. Cram as much ice as you can in it, Now add some more. Okay, here is the tricky part. Pour your hot cuppa over the ice. Ta dah! Amazing isn’t it. Okay, I know, not exactly magic. But Living a la mode is not so much fireworks and explosions. It’s more subtle. It’s relishing in this one moment. A moment of some damn fine iced tea.

So now we have our basic and simple cup of iced tea. Beautiful. Let’s have some fun. When it comes to experimenting with tea and flavors, I like to keep it cool. Though most flavor and nectar should be added during the brewing process. And what is said for flavoring coffee can be said of tea. The following are just a few of my favorite blends.

 Fruity. Add most any fruit nectar to your hot tea and you can’t go wrong. But two flavors I love most with black tea are peach and mango. Peach pairs beautifully with berries so you can take it a step further and add blueberry, strawberry or raspberry with your peach. Um, yum. And mango? Mango is tasty  all on its own. For sweetness, combine with honey or rock sugar in your tea when hot. Of course, a few pieces of fruit make for a wonderful garnish.

Creamy. I loves me my milk in my hot tea and that goes equally for iced. Just add a splash of milk to your tea when hot, a little goes a long way. I prefer nutty teas with a dash of vanilla and honey. Add some ground nuts to your loose tea and, again, remember to strain.

Spicy. Tea with spiced milk, or what we commonly think of as chai tea, is easy to make. And I prefer to make my own since many chai teas are a little too strong for me. Spices often used would be cardamom, cinnamon, ginger,  fennel and cloves. I am so not a fan of the cloves and for some reason, it is all I can taste in most chai blends at coffee shops.  With chai, you want to warm the milk up and mix the spices with the milk, and then add spiced concoction to the tea.

Not earth shattering news I know.  This post will never go viral and I have a feeling you did not say “whoa” once while reading. But if I have given you a new idea, a twist on your usual iced tea, my job is done. But I would love to hear from you. Is there anything you add to your iced tea that will make me say “whoa?” Would love to hear.

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