Hot weather poses a grave confliction: to drink or not to drink a cup of tea. I’m one of the endless brigade who resort to tea in times of distress, fatigue, pure habit, even boredom – a decent cuppa goes a long way in filling a void and occupying oneself. Yet, when the sun is beating down on England’s weather-adverse population, leading to general chaos and complaining, a cup of hot tea just doesn’t make the grade. Needing to reassure my subconscious mind that it was still getting its tea fix, at the same time as cooling myself down, I fixed some iced tea to enjoy on these often uncomfortably warm afternoons.
Iced tea brings back to me memories of a summer nearly ten years ago, discovering the sweet refreshment of Lipton’s in the Vendee. It appeased perfectly the thirst engendered after a few hour’s of zip-lining and climbing through trees, and gave me the childish thrill of drinking something so laden with sugar that it would rot my teeth. While I still feel this nostalgia for a childhood of simple desires and satisfactions, iced tea is something I’d never drink now: fizzy soft drinks leave me parched and conscious of their nutritional shortcomings.
Luckily for me, iced tea is just about the easiest thing to make at home, and can be sweetened to suit one’s own taste. To serve three generously, here’s how to make it:
- Boil 500ml water, and pour over three teabags or three teaspoons of tea leaves in a teapot, or in a large jug. Brew for three to five minutes, depending on how strong you like it.
- If in the pot, pour the tea into a large jug. Top up with equal parts of cold water.
- Slice a lemon in half, squeeze in a little juice, and give a good stir with a big spoon. Leave the lemon half in the jug to infuse.
- If you have any fresh mint to hand, muddle a handful of leaves and drop them in.
- Place in the fridge for around five minutes to chill. (If the jug won’t fit in the side door, even with removing any compartments, a wide-necked bottle (lid fastened securely) laid on its side would work fine.)
- When ready to serve, spoon demerara sugar to taste into a glass – a teaspoon is plenty. Pour in the tea, stir vigorously, and add ice. Garnish with sliced lemon and more mint if desired.
A jug of this is a fantastic drink to have at hand – make in the morning for something to look forward to after school / work / because you need it. It’s easily drinkable without the sugar, and using fruit tea would probably add an interesting twist.