There are teas that are perfect for Winter and teas that are perfect for Summer. And never the twain shall meet. Oh, yeah?

Daring to be different has always been one of my hallmarks. Those who know me well can attest to this. When others zigged, I zagged. When others cheered, I booed. When others say “to-MAY-to,” I say “to-MAH-to” — you get the idea. So, drinking a tea called “Holiday Spice” during Summer is a clear sign of that daring (the reason why I bought some recently). The tea (consisting of black tea with cinnamon, orange, and clove) was clearly blended to impart a flavor that goes perfectly with figgy pudding and roast turkey. Not to mention Carolers, fresh snowfall, and stockings hung by the chimney with care. Potato salad, steaks on the grill, and sunny days filled with outdoor activities aren’t quite in that picture. Or maybe that’s just some kind of cultural conditioning.

One thing my hubby says about songs that we associate with Christmas and other Winter events is that we do so not just because of the lyrics, but also because of a sort of a conditioning that occurs due to hearing these songs along with seeing red and green décor everywhere and having cranberry sauce, baked yams, and turkey with stuffing for dinner. If you heard these songs “out of context,” that is, just the music without lyrics and the trimmings of the holidays, they would fit whatever context you happened to be in. For example, “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire” has a very romantic melody line that could be appropriate for a candlelight dinner on a warm evening out on your deck or patio.

Sounds like a little reconditioning is in order here.

I need to have a Summer context to enjoy my Winter tea. Okay, let’s start with the setting. Instead of a fireplace, we’ll use a chiminea for the patio. Instead of heavily upholstered easy chairs, we’ll sit in comfy but lightweight folding camp chairs. Or course, candles are still appropriate, but ones containing citronella would be more useful. The scent of pine is replaced by the scent of 40-SPF sunscreen. The chirping of birds and scurrying of squirrels replaces the sound of Salvation Army bells and clinking of coins into their red kettles. Okay, the scene is set.

Now for the tea. Hot or cold? This is a tea that can go both ways. You can enjoy it hot either straight or with milk and sweetener. The flavor is a wonderful blend of those spices and the tang of orange (the citrus of the orange doesn’t tend to curdle the milk like lemon would). Of course, since we’re going for a Summer motif, serving the tea chilled is quite fitting. A bit of sweetener is a good touch.

On to the menu. Since this tea can go great with a wide variety of foods, it’s even more fitting with our Summer feast. Hotdogs cooked so they have a crispy skin with black stripes from the grill and served on toasted buns spread with mustard and topped with your favorites like pickle relish are the centerpiece of the menu. Of course, ribs, burgers, and kabobs are other options. A fresh salad with leafy greens, grated carrots, rings of yellow bell peppers, a sprinkling of feta, and a balsamic vinaigrette dressing really imparts that Summer feeling. Fresh fruits and cheeses with crackers are more warm-weather options. Voilà! You have a setting fit for any tea. And Holiday Spice fits right in.

Hope this has convinced you that teas know no season. You can enjoy them anytime. Just set the scene and serve with the appropriate menu. This chilled Holiday Spice tea is one of many possibilities. You just need a little reconditioning. Cheers!

Just like Holiday Spice, Tea Time with A.C. Cargill is great anytime of year!

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