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.
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.
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.
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.
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