Sunday, July 17, 2011

It's HOT!

We are in the midst of a long term heat wave. I know it is summer, but what happened to our 85 to 90 degree summers? What’s with this 100 degree plus stuff? I don’t even want to talk about the humidity!

What I do want to talk about is our favorite summer drink. Iced Tea!
What is more simple than iced tea? .Of course,  there is the choice of sweetened or unsweetened; how about with or without lemon? I personally think iced tea should have a crisp green sprig of mint, fresh from the garden, or in my case, fresh from the pot on the front porch.

 I think the best iced tea I have ever had was at TGI Friday’s. I was there for Sunday brunch, years ago, but I still remember it. Why? Because it had every element of the perfect glass of tea.
1. Tall clear glass made of thin glass, not plastic, Styrofoam or paper.
2. Filled to the brim with crystal clear ice cubes.
3 The tea was lightly (and I do mean “lightly”) sweetened
4. The glass was filled to the very top with brewed tea.
5. Lemon? No way! It was a big juicy wedge of gorgeous lime slipped onto the edge of the glass!
6 And to top off this perfect presentation of a glass of iced tea, a beautiful, absolutely fresh, dark green sprig with 4 or 5 leaves of mint.

Being from the Midwest, I was raised knowing you could add sugar or sweetener to your iced tea, but my first trip to the south was an eye opener. They assumed you wanted your tea sweetened. Sweet Tea in the south is a given. And it is sweet! Considering the fact that there have been diabetics in the last 4 generations of my family, I use an artificial sweetener. But below the Mason-Dixon Line…..SUGAR! LOTS OF SUGAR! The traditional Southern Sweet Tea is sweetened with a simple syrup. A common recipe for this sweetener is for 3 quarts of iced tea, boil one cup of water and ¾ cup of sugar, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved. Add it to the tea and serve over ice.

What do you think of instant tea? My personal opinion is simple….YUCK! It was a big moment in America when we suddenly had the jar of Lipton Instant Tea available. In Googling for information on the history of instant tea, I was directed to a page called Rewind the Fifties. Here is what I learned.

“Thomas J. Lipton was an Irish immigrant and a multi-millionaire with a string of retail stores. In order to appease some tea brokers in London, Lipton decided to sell tea in his stores, but he wanted to sell tea that would be affordable to working class families.
To do this Lipton did three things. First, he cut out the middleman and brought his tea directly from India. Second, he sold his tea in packages by the pound, half a pound and quarter pound. Lastly, he made tea bags so that they would be easy to handle.
At first, Lipton sold his tea aggressively to the English working class with much success, but eventually instant tea came to the United States. The question is, why?
Well, it started post War World II, when tea sales in the United States started to flourish, out distancing those in England for once. The reason primarily has to do with 1950’s advertising, and the advent of pre-packaged and ready made food products available to the Americans after the war.
Because of this, instant tea took its place along side other pre-packaged foods like instant coffee, food mixes and frozen drink items. Also, because of instant teas, housewives, during the 1950’s, no longer had to worry about brewing the perfect tea for guests. But it was only in the late 1950’s that instant tea took off.
Why? Companies had invented a tea that dissolved in cold water, therefore housewives, pressed for time, did not have to boil water to make a good cup of tea. This sealed their devotion and instant tea has been a hit in the United States ever since, with no signs of abating.

So when you are drinking the glass of cold ice tea this summer, remember to give thanks to Thomas J. Lipton
for having vision, fortitude and good business sense for helping bring instant tea to the United States.”

Personally, I will continue to make my tea the old way….but wait, cold brew bags are pretty darned good! And we can always rely on the sun to do the work for us. Do you still have your Sun Tea Jar?

I read the food52,com page regularly and was so pleased to see this posting just a few minutes ago. It is about tea! I found this idea fascinating and will try it very soon.

Orange Green Tea Sparkler

by merrill
My neighbor and I had a conversation recently about a concoction she often throws together involving iced green tea and orange juice. I decided to try my own version, adding some sparkling water for a little fizz.
Serves 1
• 1 green tea bag, or the equivalent in loose tea
• 2 teaspoons honey
• 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
• 1 orange wedge for serving
• Sparkling water

1. Boil a kettle of water and put the tea bag in a mug. Pour 8 ounces of boiling water over the tea and stir in the honey. Taste and add more honey if you like, but remember you'll be adding orange juice later. Allow the tea to steep at room temperature until cool.
2. Fill an 8-ounce glass with ice and add 1/2 cup of the tea, the orange juice and an orange wedge. Top up with sparkling water, stir gently and sip slowly, reveling in summer.

So, now what are you going to do? Brew, Instant, Sweeten? With Citrus? With Mint?
With this heat, let me give you this little bit of advice….Drink lots of it, however you fix it!
Stay Cool!

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