Summer ENTERTAINING with Iced Teas + tips for crafting a great iced tea
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There isn't much that's better than a freshly brewed cold iced tea on my back deck as the sun sets in the horizon. My family has been busy traveling most of the past month, so we have not been able to enjoy our back deck, but if I close my eyes, I'm sitting on our deck with my feet propped up, drinking an iced tea. The point is, it doesn't really matter whether or not you have a gorgeous deck to enjoy an iced tea, they're still delicious regardless of where you're doing the enjoying.
I was enjoying some iced teas recently on vacation. Every year my family and both my baby brother's families vacation together near where we grew up in rural Iowa to spend a glorious week with The Ladies, our aunts. Our father passed away when we were all teenagers and The Ladies are our only connection to our father. So, it is very important to all of us to take this time every summer to be with our aunts, and really, our father.
In case you didn't know, Bigelow Tea began in a New York City townhouse, where Ruth Campbell Bigelow developed the iconic "Constant Comment"® tea, and has expanded to a worldwide market offering more than 130 varieties of flavored, green, organic, herbal, decaffeinated and iced teas. Some of their teas are my absolute favorites during the summer months.
During our week of vacation we brewed fresh tea all week long and created more memories for our families to cherish. Every afternoon we would gather together for a sweet and a sip, as my grandmother used to call it. My brothers and I would sit and wait, patiently, for a remembered story or thought . . . we were once again little children at rapt attention . . . waiting for any small detail that we could savor . . . this part of the day will always be the favorite. It is the time we reconnect and bring old traditions to the forefront of all our busy lives. It is the time our aunts cherish the most as well.
But if truth be told, it is the time my brothers and I cherish most of all. We brewed tea for our aunts and waited to see what sweets they would bring over for the afternoon sweet and sip. The smiles and laughs would quickly be heard throughout the house and everyone would gather around my aunts, sipping iced tea and gobbling up the sweet of the day . . . and listening to another favored story about our father or grandmother.
The Teas of Summer
Want to make some fabulous iced tea this summer for your family? Here are a few tips for giving your brewed teas an extra boost of awesomeness.
Tips for Crafting a Great Iced Tea
Always use the freshest ingredients when you can. Bigelow Tea believes in freshness, which is why they use a special foil pouch to protect tea from air, moisture and surrounding aromas. Tea is rich in antioxidants called flavonoids, which are most potent when tea is freshly brewed. So, always brew your tea fresh to make your iced teas. Remember to squeeze your citrus juices fresh from the fruit as well, and always use fresh herbs (my favorite is fresh mint). A great plan is to always have plenty of lemons and limes on hand, especially if you plan to make a lot of iced tea this summer!
When it comes to tea, get the best! Bigelow Tea is an American Company for the American consumer. I've always heard that you should always cook with the best ingredients, so it stands to reason that a great iced tea should be made with the best tea that tastes good brewed straight! I was able to locate my favorite Bigelow Tea at Walmart. But a good tea can really make an iced tea incredible.
Make sure to dilute your iced tea! Diluting can feel like it's going against the point of creating an iced tea, but here are simple tips to know when your iced tea is diluted the right amount. For iced teas that are poured into a cup from a large pitcher(see above image), watch the edges of the ice cubes. Once they have lost their sharpness and the edges are rounded, it's perfect! Another tip on ice: if the ice has been sitting in your freezer for too long it can start to taste like the other stuff in your freezer, which really isn't the flavor you want in your iced tea. Use fresh ice!
Don't forget the garnish! My favorite way to make an iced tea look super fancy is the garnish. Even the most simple of garnishes can make your iced tea look like it was handcrafted by Bigelow drink photographers. Just a twist of lime, sprig of mint, or a wedge of fruit is all it takes! Not only do garnishes make your iced teas look great, they can also finish out the flavor of your iced teas. Just a twist of lemon peel or a star anise can perfectly finish your iced tea! If you're garnishing with herbs, give them a gentle rub between your fingers to release the oils first. My favorite is to add mint to mine!
Using the right type of glass for a iced tea can also help your iced teas shine. It's not required for a great tasting iced tea, obviously, but it can make it that much more pretty. I've scored all my different kinds of iced tea glasses from my aunts! Or, you know, just use mason jars!
I love that we are able to make customized iced tea anytime now! The teas were a huge hit during our vacation, and I think they will be perfect for the days when unexpected guests stop by this summer. I fell in love with the iced tea bar during vacation so much that I gave it a permanent summer spot on the top of my desk! In minutes we are ready for sipping on the deck and chatting with friends as we watch the kiddos play outside!