Teas for Summer

Andy shares his favorite summer teas in today’s perfume & taste edition.

My love of tea is perennial—but when the weather turns steamy, drinking a piping hot cup of tea just seems like punishment. So, instead of fighting against the weather, I like to use warm days as an excuse to make loads of iced tea. It could be purely my imagination, but a tall glass of iced tea on a hot day seems immediately more refreshing than just plain ice water, and without a doubt is more delicious.

andy-tea-summer

Summer is also a great time to bring out all of your favorite teas and try them iced—sometimes, the most unexpected teas can taste markedly different (and utterly delicious) when chilled. Of course, summer isn’t always about beating the heat—cool mornings and air conditioning can leave me downright chilly, so I’ve compiled a list of some teas below that taste great whether steaming hot or ice cold.

Assam

No matter whether it’s a frigid January morning or a scorching July afternoon, when I’m looking for a classic taste, I reach for bold black teas like rich, tannic Assams. With their strong character, hot, freshly brewed Assam teas hold up well to being poured right over ice, which is great when I’m feeling too impatient to let the tea chill before serving. I’ve grown to like occasionally drinking my iced Assam tea Southern style (which is to say, sweetened very generously), and with a nice wedge of lemon on the side. When you’ve experienced the refreshment of so-called “sweet tea” on the sweltering, humid days that dominate a Georgia summer, it is clear why Southerners have a monopoly over the iced tea tradition here in the U.S.!

Blue of London

If your summer promises to be less sultry, Le Palais des Thés Blue of London is a perfect tea for any time of day, though I particularly like a hot cup on a rainy afternoon. With a blend of delicate Yunnan black tea and a tantalizing Calabrian bergamot essence, it is a lightened up version of classic Earl Grey, making it perfect for warm weather. Even served hot, it has a cooling effect that gives me a feeling of calm and serenity. It is also great iced, where the chilling effect of the bergamot is especially apparent.

Green Teas with Mint or Citrus

All green teas are great iced, but those with the addition of cooling mint or refreshing citrus fruits are particularly quenching. I often add fresh spearmint to plain green teas to achieve this effect, but many tea companies, like Mariage Fréres, Le Palais des Thés, Art of Tea, and Rishi Tea carry several green tea blends that contain mint and citrus, sometimes combined with other herbs or flavors. Green teas are a perfect blank canvas for adding your own flavors though. In addition to spearmint, I love incorporating fresh citrus juices, herbs such as lemon verbena and lavender, or fresh fruits to infuse into plain iced green teas. In most cases, your own homemade creation will be more flavorful and delicious than any pre-made blend you can find.

Flavored Teas

If there is any perfect time to drink flavored teas, it is in the summer. Most flavored teas are well-suited to being served iced, and, in my experience, often taste better cold. When flavored teas are chilled, many fruit flavorings that taste “perfumey” and strong are significantly toned down, and often seem far more refreshing. Thanks to a great suggestion from reader Austenfan, I now have come to love the taste of iced Thé des Moines from Le Palais des Thés. In addition, the perennial favorite from this line, Thé du Hammam, is also great cold, where the vanilla and floral facets of its flavoring are particularly pronounced.

Jasmine Teas

I appreciate jasmine teas the most at the same time of year when my jasmine plant is at its peak, during the very hottest days of mid-summer. Coincidentally, it is also at that time when the last thing I want to do is drink a hot cup of tea. So, instead, I drink my jasmine teas iced, where they taste amazingly refreshing. My standby for iced tea is Art of Tea’s White Tipped Jasmine, a nice green tea that is generously scented, but not too expensive, so I can make large pitchers of it to enjoy. For an even more luscious experience, try adding a little splash of rosewater or orange blossom water (or maybe both) to your iced jasmine tea, for an even lusher experience.

How to Make Iced Tea

You can make iced tea the usual way by chilling hot tea in the fridge, or try the cold infusion method. To do this, you add 10g (approximately 3.5 teaspoons) of black tea per each litre of room temperature water and leave it to infuse overnight. Then you can remove the leaves and chill tea in the fridge. If you would like to experiment with flavored black or green teas, use 15g of tea (about 5 teaspoons) and steep for a much shorter time. Taste from time to time to find the perfect balance of flavors.

What are your favorite teas for summer? 

Photography by Andy Gerber

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42 Comments

  • Thai: Twinings’ Lady Grey cold. I don’t even need to submerge the tea bad in hot water, instead, I just pour cold water directly onto the tea bag. The bergamot & lemon flavors become much more exhilarating than those in the hot version. June 26, 2013 at 8:08am Reply

    • Andy: I love Twinings Lady Grey too. Considering it’s wide availability, it tastes much more expensive than it really is. I don’t know that I ever tried it iced, but I can imagine it would be great. Thanks for the suggestion. June 26, 2013 at 11:06am Reply

  • Thai: *tea bag 😀 June 26, 2013 at 8:08am Reply

  • Annikky: What a timely post – it’s unusally warm here, in this cold corner of Europe. And thanks to your review, I’m a happy owner of Le Palais des Thes sample set, so I can go home and play 🙂 I’ve also got Mandy Aftel’s lavender chef’s essence which has worked very well in home-made lemonades (with lime, lemon and brown sugar, for example) and I cannot wait to try it in iced tea.

    Southern style Assam reminded my of chilled coffee with sweetened condensed milk that I love to drink in the summer. Not as sophisticated as your choices above (and, obviously, not a tea drink), but I’m somewhat addicted and drink it instead of dessert on very warm days. June 26, 2013 at 8:11am Reply

    • Andy: I hope you’re enjoying your sample set! Even months later, I’m still enjoying teas from mine from time to time. I’ve eyed up those chef’s essences before, and they are increasingly tempting me. And your lavender-scented drinks sound utterly luscious.

      And I think your sweetened coffee sounds great. I think I’m going to have to try it sometime soon, actually, because it sounds really satisfying. June 26, 2013 at 11:12am Reply

      • Annikky: I am very, very glad that I purchased this tea set – the teas are seriously good and the concept is perfect for someone as fickle as me.

        And to give credit where it’s due, I got the lavender lemonade idea from Thug Kitchen. If interested, just google ‘Thug Kitchen lavender lemonade’ and take a look. June 27, 2013 at 4:37am Reply

        • Andy: I’m quite the same—my tastes can vary so much from day to day, it just doesn’t make sense to have too much of any one tea around, so the sample set works well for me. Thank you, I will have to look at the recipe for that lavender lemonade! June 27, 2013 at 7:40am Reply

  • columbine: i use the cold infusion method but even easier: tea+room temperature water straight into the fridge overnight. it works really well and this is the method recommended by Mariages Frères for making iced tea.

    this by the way works well for making mint- or cucumber-infused water. as refreshing as ice-tea for hot summers June 26, 2013 at 8:26am Reply

    • Andy: Yes, that cold brew method, of letting the tea infuse in the fridge works nicely too. I, like you, love to do the same with cucumber and fresh spearmint, or watermelon and lemon thyme. There are so many lovely infused waters, endless possibilities! June 26, 2013 at 11:16am Reply

  • Jillie: Lovely suggestions – wish we had the warm weather to accompany them! My sister-in-law makes a wonderful mint tea, with no tea; she just shoves great bunches of mint into a teapot and pours water (just off the boil) over them. It’s so refreshing and good for overindulgence. June 26, 2013 at 8:30am Reply

    • Andy: Mint tea is great in the summertime. Sometimes, when I’m not really sure if I want something hot or cold, I like mint tea because it is both cooling and warm at the same time. So refreshing and lovely! June 26, 2013 at 11:17am Reply

  • iodine: I’m preparing my cold mint tea right now! I’m using a blend- I guess it’s Mariage Fréres, but I’m not sure- and adding a few fresh mint leaves from my balcony garden :-). I generally prepare a strong tea and pour it on ice cubes- so it’s immediately ready. I’ve read in a book that this was how cold tea was “invented”: at a fair, in a very hot day.. June 26, 2013 at 10:30am Reply

    • Andy: I can almost taste the refreshment of your iced tea right now! I’m with you, most of the time I’m so eager to get some refreshment that, no matter what tea I’m using, I pour it right over ice. June 26, 2013 at 11:21am Reply

  • Andrea: Shincha in frozen glass chawan (love the bright green color)
    Mugicha on crushed ice (not being tea at all but roasted barley) June 26, 2013 at 11:32am Reply

    • Andy: I love your choice of Shincha for iced tea, Andrea. Unfortunately, I still haven’t tried Mugicha, though I want to very much! June 26, 2013 at 12:50pm Reply

    • Victoria: Mugicha must be one of the most refreshing iced teas ever. Andy, you can even roast your own barley (roast it really well, till it’s almost coffee colored) and make it. You can also roast other grains, like buckwheat and rice. June 27, 2013 at 10:58am Reply

      • Andy: Good to know! I’m pretty sure I can find barley in my grocery store, I’ll have to try this! June 27, 2013 at 2:01pm Reply

  • Nadja Sand: I love making my own herbal teas in summer! There are so many plants that make delicious tasting tea! Right now, whenever I have time off I collect sprouts, leaves and flowers… Some of my favorite plats for herbal tea are fireweed, labrador tea, white clover flowers and blueberry leaves. Mornings and evenings aren’t very warm in my northern location so I don’t mind drinking my tea hot even in summer. June 26, 2013 at 2:23pm Reply

    • nikki: How interesting, I would love to try some of those leaves like you do….thank you! June 26, 2013 at 4:40pm Reply

    • Andy: Your herbal teas sound so beautiful–do you wildharvest the herbs you use for your teas? When they come out, I love searching for and picking wild blackberries (purely for on-the-spot consumption though, I’m not patient enough to actually save them for a purpose). I’m curious, what do the white clovers and blueberry leaves taste like steeped? June 26, 2013 at 5:16pm Reply

      • Nadja Sand: Yeah, I wildharvest mostly! I love finding use for what nature provides! There are some things from the garden that can be put to unexpected use too, like pancy flowers and rose petals.

        It’s hard to describe the taste of herbal teas and many of them taste quite similar. White clover flowers are quite sweet while blueberry leaves taste more fresh… Labrador tea has a really unique taste that cannot be described. Fireweed tastes sweet but the really amazing thing about that herb is the beautiful milky green color of the tea! Herbal teas are a pleasure not only for the taste buds but also for the eyes!

        I’m planning on writing a blog post about my herbal teas soon, so keep an eye out if you are curious! June 27, 2013 at 12:39pm Reply

        • Andy: Thank you for letting me know about your herbal teas! I usually only use pretty standard culinary herbs and spices, but I may just have to try some wild harvested botanicals soon. I’m excited to see your upcoming post! June 27, 2013 at 2:00pm Reply

    • Annikky: This is common here, too, although in my family we usually dry the plants first (not always, though, my mother adds fresh sage or cowslips to mint from the garden). I like yarrow, St John’s wort, raspberry stalks and rose hip, but linden blossom tea is probably my favourite. June 27, 2013 at 4:52am Reply

      • Andy: That’s very interesting. I often neglect herbal teas a bit, but they can be so delicious, and I’m sure your own freshly made blends are far better than something found in a store. Linden flower tea sounds especially great! June 27, 2013 at 7:44am Reply

      • Nadja Sand: I both dry and drink fresh! I dry most of what I collect so that I’ll have herbal tea in winter too.

        I can’t find St John’s wort or Linden here bur raspberry and rose are other favorites of mine! I haven’t tried yarrow yet, but it is on the list! 🙂 June 27, 2013 at 12:44pm Reply

        • Andy: This reminds me, I have some yarrow in my garden—I’ll have to try it as an herbal tea! June 27, 2013 at 2:04pm Reply

          • Annikky: Yarrow can be quite intense and distinctive, but I have always enjoyed its aromatic character. I think one gets the most pleasure out of herbal teas if not expecting them to compete with the complexity of real tea. But they have their own charm and harvesting the plants and herbs is a big part of that. I like them best in the summer when in season or in the dead of winter, to remind me of summer and ward off the cold. June 28, 2013 at 3:01am Reply

            • Andy: Thanks, Annikky, for all your advice and tips. I already feel like I’ve learned so much about herbal teas, and understand them better. I’ve always kind of regarded herbal teas as dull, but you have reminded me, they have their own special charm. June 28, 2013 at 8:30am Reply

  • Nancy A.: Andy,

    Tea is such a good choice for the summer heat ! I’ve already have some I brewed the traditional way (Assam). Coincidentally, I thought of you when I “discovered” Palais des Thes on Columbus Avenue (NYC). I took a booklet and had a lovely conversation with the sales associates and look forward to treating myself in the near future. Maybe I’ll return the favor by talking grapes and wine! June 26, 2013 at 2:58pm Reply

    • Andy: Even still, a traditional iced black tea remains one of my favorites, I too have been brewing a lot lately. I would love to visit one of the Le Palais de Thés boutiques, but haven’t had the chance yet. I’m glad to hear you had such a nice experience! June 26, 2013 at 5:20pm Reply

  • Austenfan: It was as usual a delight to read another tea post by you. (and I felt very flattered to see my “name” mentioned in the actual post.)
    I make my iced tea, or cold tea rather, with the cold water method. I was told by several different tea sellers that iced tea made this way would not be as likely to be bitter. Like you I mostly use flavoured green teas. Sometimes the ones that I find a bit “overbearing” when served hot, work very well as a cold beverage.
    I haven’t made any cold Assam yet, but have tried different Yunnans as iced tea. They were very good as well.
    We’ve hardly had any warm weather here so far, so for the time being I make hot teas! June 26, 2013 at 4:18pm Reply

    • Andy: Your recommendation of drinking Thé des Moines iced was so good, I couldn’t help but use it. The cold brew method works so well, and I agree, it staves off any potential bitterness as much as possible. I remember reading in a magazine recently, apparently brewing coffee in a “cold” manner has a similar beneficial effect in maximizing the flavor profile and keeping bitterness at a minimum. I made some iced Yunnan today, which is another one of my very favorite black teas to serve iced. June 26, 2013 at 5:24pm Reply

  • nikki: This is how I make ice tea: very strong black tea (like Irish breakfast), lots of sugar/stevia and one to two lemons, juice and a little bit of rind, sliced in a spiral.

    However, the way the Moroccans drink tea, gunpowder tea with clumps of sugar and bunches of peppermint is the most fun! Especially in hot weather as we have here in Arizona which is on the same meridian as Northern Africa. June 26, 2013 at 4:39pm Reply

  • Andy: Your iced tea sounds great right now! And I love Moroccan-style green tea too. Truly one of the most refreshing ways to drink tea! I don’t know what region of Arizona you live in, but if you’re anywhere near Phoenix or Tucson, I’m sure you enjoy iced tea for most of the year. I was in Arizona a few years ago during August, and the heat was truly a force to be reckoned with! June 26, 2013 at 5:32pm Reply

  • theperfumeddandy: What a simply delicious piece.
    Might I add my favourite?
    The delicious orange blossom oolong made by Marriage Freres (and others on line) is a delight both hot and iced, when a slice or two of grapefruit as a garnish takes it to an altogether other level.
    If only our choice of tea scents were as wide or as satisfying, yet I find that I am frustrated in my search for an even near-perfect spray for summer.
    Ah well, the joy of the hunt!
    Yours ever
    The Perfumed Dandy June 28, 2013 at 5:46am Reply

    • Andy: I know I’ve heard of that orange blossom oolong before, but I haven’t tried it. It sounds intoxicating. I have a favorite Jasmine Ancient Beauty oolong from Art of Tea, and it has one of the most complex floral flavor profiles I’ve ever experienced in a tea—green and white floral bouquet upon the first infusion, jammy “purple” tinted fruity floral in later infusions.

      I’m on the hunt for a perfect tea scent right now, so I can completely sympathize. For me, I’ve resolved that I will have to find perfumes that merely evoke tea, because none seem to actually smell like any teas I’ve ever tried. June 28, 2013 at 8:38am Reply

  • MontrealGirl: Hi Andy, Thanks for another great article of scents and flavours in food! I love this mix of perfume and food.

    I tried the cold infusion technique last night and it worked like a charm! No more bitterness; I love it!

    Here’s a tea recipe I came across in a Syrian restaurant many years ago that I want to share. It was made warm but it will work beautifully as an ice tea too. For 1 L of boiling water add 3 anise stars and 15 green cardamom pods. I love the licorice, lemony aroma of this tea. I also love lavender-flavoured syrup mixed with orange and lemon juice on a hot summer’s day.

    Like your other readers, I too love a good Moroccan tea in the summer. Here’s a little trick I learned from a Tunisian pastry shop owner on how to make the perfect Moroccan tea: add green tea in the tea pot, pour 1 cup of boiling water over it to cover it and then after 30 seconds throw out this first infusion. Next add 2-4 mint stalks (with leaves) plus lots of sugar to the tea pot and fill it this time to the very top with boiling water, put the lid on and steep for 3-4 minutes. Serve (or cool it down in the fridge for ice tea). This “rinsing of the tea” is also done by the Chinese to great effect; it removes the bitter flavour of the tea and leaves you with the more subtle, sweet flavours. In fact the Chinese drink multiple infusions of green tea and oolong tea and I find with each subsequent infusion the tea becomes more delicate and pleasant. June 28, 2013 at 8:27am Reply

    • Andy: Thank you so much for your tips and recipes! The Syrian spiced beverage sounds delicious. I am always on the hunt for a new way to prepare Moroccan style tea, so I will have to try your recommended method. Thanks! June 28, 2013 at 8:41am Reply

  • Sylviane: Many thanks to Andy for the post and to Thai for the suggestion to pour cold water onto a Twining’s Lady Grey tea bag . It works ! It’s delicious and so quick ! July 2, 2013 at 5:32am Reply

    • Andy: Yes, Lady Grey works beautifully for this! July 2, 2013 at 5:04pm Reply

  • Brian Shea: Mmmm tea! My addiction! Iced tea is a must here in Miami! And my favorite homemade concoction is mango or passionfruit tea, or a combination thereof. I use an English Breakfast tea, right now I have a Republic Of Tea tin of it that I’m using and I’m quite fond of, but I’ve also used regular ol’ Bigelow as well as Twinings. I’ve also used Darjeeling for this as well. I used to use mango or passionfruit puree, the frozen kind that you find in Hispanic grocery stores, but then I discovered mango and passionfruit hydrosols. I make tea by the glass and pour it hot, pre sweetened, over ice, and add a teaspoon to a tablespoon of the hydrosol, and a squeeze of fresh lime(Key limes often). Tropical deliciousness! Argo tea makes a pre flavored tea called Mango Mambo that is delicious.
    I too love iced jasmine tea in the summertime, or anytime for that matter, hot too!
    Of course apricot or peach tea is perfect for and iced summertime drink. Honest Tea makes a delicious tea called Peach Oo Oolong(I’m nuts about that brand, I drink a bottle a day!), and Argo Tea has a great Peach Ginger black tea(they used to have a wonderful apricot black tea, but they discontinued that).
    I’ve also tried watermelon hydrosol, as well as pear with both black and green teas. August 14, 2013 at 3:23am Reply

    • Andy: Your iced teas sound delicious! I was in Miami last summer, and I can definitely understand the need for plenty of iced tea with all the sun and heat! August 14, 2013 at 7:35pm Reply

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