Wednesday, June 19, 2013

It's Summer...So Make it Iced

Not many of you know I recently moved to Texas, but I can say it has been an innovative adventure so far; especially in the area of tea and treats. The first thing that stood out to me here in the land of heat and humidity is that Iced Tea is a popular commodity. I have met so many individuals who would prefer a glass of iced tea than an iced latte from Starbucks anytime. And it got me thinking...there are SO many ways to be creative and have fun with cooling, refreshing drinks over the summer--so why stick to just one?

I am sure you all know adding a little liquor to an Arnold Palmer can be a nice topping to a long, hot day. But for those who are less aware of precisely how many froofy, fruity tea drinks are out there, here are a few ideas...

First Recipe: Double Lemon Punch
This tasty iced drink is made with Ginger Ale and Lemon Verbena Leaves. Now, what precisely IS a Lemon Verbena leaf and why is it going in this drink? Well, I found an article that describes the make up and flavor of the herb here.

Supposedly the leaves add a tangy, zesty, citrus flavor when steeped, and they can easily be prepared. They are supposed to be dried and steeped in 2 cups of boiling water and strained before mixing into the punch. In any case, if you do not have access to Lemon Verbena leaves, you may use 2 bags of simple lemon tea to substitute. Now, the recipe is simple from here: The lemon verbena leaves (or lemon tea), 2 cups of black Assam tea and 2 squeezed lemons should be cooled before being added to 1 quart of chilled ginger ale. And a nice decoration to top it off with are ice cubes in the shape of something fun, like flowers, froggies, hearts--anything you can find a mold for at a market. (I'd love to see it done with little flower ice cubes at the bottom of each glass : )

Second Recipe: Rosy Yogurt Cooler
I am not certain how many Americans make their own rose hip tea, but I highly recommend it. If not, a box of tea bags from Wal-Mart is fine. Steep enough rose hips for 2 cups of boiling water while preparing this iced treat. You'll need 2 cups of plain, lowfat yogurt, 1 cup of strawberries, blueberries, or raspberries (or any combination of the three!) 3 tablespoons of honey and 8 unsliced strawberries, blueberries or raspberries to go on top.
Blend the sliced berries, yogurt and honey until perfectly smooth before adding the steeped rose hip tea into the mixture. Again, I will promote the fun-shaped ice cubes to go with this, or perhaps something more elegant to pour it over. Use a tall glass and put the whole berries on top to give the illusion of a fancy parfait--or perhaps a very elegant smoothie. Heck, feel free to blend the ice in with it : )

Obviously, these fruity iced "tea" drinks taste even better with a friend out on the patio. So sip and enjoy these treats from in the heat!

These Recipes come from Victoria's "The Charms of Tea" owned by Hearst Cooperation, Copyright 1991. I encourage readers to check it out.

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Proper Setting

Hello friends and viewers,

It's been about a year since I've made a post, but today I was inspired by a special person in my life by receiving a very special gift. My father, Cary, sent a birthday gift to his new twenty-two-year-old and (can you guess what it was?) I was thrilled to find a charmingly elegant book of tea in all its Victorian glory. This book is aptly titled, "The Charms of Tea: Reminisces and Recipes" and while flipping through the pages, I found beautiful photographs of vintage china sets, along with traditional tiers of cake, cookies, and cucumber sandwiches. Every photo had its own color scheme and its own Victorian fashion. My eyes lingered on each lovely tea setting, and I thought to myself what an important piece that is in the Tea Experience: Setting.

There are many cases where it is the way a gift is packaged that makes it exciting--or even worth opening. And I am delighted to think it is the same with High Tea, that it is not just what is served but how. It matters what setting I am trying to offer because in the end it is the setting that makes the experience, it is setting that allows for rich conversation and a comfortable atmosphere.

I believe the prose on the front flap of my new book sums this idea up by saying,

"The tradition of teatime has long been a cherished one, bringing tranquil settings to the mind, delicate refreshments to the palate, and warm conversation with good friends to the heart."

I would ask you, reader, which setting do you prefer? What tastes do you imagine while sitting at a table? What small delights perk up your senses as you enjoy a treat with a dear friend? I hope the answers to these questions only enrich your ideal tea experience and bring you closer to living it.