At this time of year (June) in the Arizona desert nobody thinks about it much when the temperature exceeds 100 degrees. It’s no more out of the ordinary than a white Christmas in the Yukon. But it’s also not the sort of weather that finds you craving a cup of hot tea.
What’s interesting, though, in my own case, is that I can’t even remember the last time I drank a cup of hot tea. Even over the winter (such as it is in this part of the world) I found myself steering clear of it. Which is not to say that I’ve cut down on my tea consumption – perish the thought. I’m currently drinking as much or more tea than I ever have. I just find that I crave iced tea more nowadays.
I can’t seem to put a finger on exactly why this is. I think that, in part, it has something to do with the taste. I don’t know if there’s any research to back this assertion, but in my experience, it seems that there’s a certain range of temperatures that are best for bringing out the full flavor of a tea.
What I’ve found from many, many cups worth of painstaking experimentation, is that a cup of really hot tea seems to lack much in the way of flavor – plus you run the risk of burning your mouth. As the hot tea cools it eventually reaches a point where the flavors start to become more apparent. I have yet to whip out a thermometer and do any tests to figure exactly where this point is, but it’s there.
At the other end of the temperature range, strangely enough, I’ve found much the same thing. Chilling tea too much seems also to interfere with the drinker’s ability to make finer distinctions in the flavor profile. Allow the tea to sit and warm up a bit and the flavors that were missing in action seem magically to return.
As mentioned elsewhere in these pages, there are a number of factors that contribute to making a good cup of tea. If you’ve hit all the other points and your tea is still not up to your standards, maybe it’s simply too hot or cold.
Find more about William’s tea adventures over on his blog, Tea Guy Speaks!