Hey, tea lovers, Summertime is here in the Northern Hemisphere. That usually means days filled with plenty of sunshine — great weather for enjoying a tall, cold glass of chilled (iced) tea. However, we do get our share of cloudy days where heat and humidity collude in a dramatic display — sudden, intense downpours accompanied by theatrical thunder and lightning. Other times these clouds just hang over the area casting a damper on everyone’s mood. Not mine, though.
For me, a cloudy Summer day sets the scene for one of my favorite tea moments. I brew up a full pot of English Breakfast Blend, Scottish Breakfast, or Devonshire Tea, bake scones or a big batch of Pillsbury fluffy Grands, and settle down in my comfy chair. (Actually, it’s a double recliner so hubby can get comfy, too, and munch on some goodies with me.)
The goal here is not so much the tea as it is the atmosphere. Those dark clouds outside tame the bright afternoon sun typical of those hot Summer days. They also bring at least the hope of rain, very welcome in areas where moisture is at a premium. Also, being indoors in the afternoon on a Summer day enjoying tea can be a welcome change from all that sun and fun. It also means I don’t have to slather on a thick layer of SPF 5000 (just kidding — I think it only goes up to 4000).
As long as you have a great teatime atmosphere (especially one that includes some absolutely yummy treats and a loved one to share them with), bagged tea versus loose is not sinful. Just be aware that most bagged teas contain small pieces of tea leaves. There are two categories: fannings and dust. Fannings are larger than dust but smaller than broken leaf pieces. While whole leaf is preferred by many tea aficionados (myself included), bagged tea made with fannings or dust brew up faster and can have a stronger flavor and scent. Keep in mind, too, that not all bagged teas are made alike. Some brands, such as Devonshire Tea, Typhoo, and PG Tips, are of higher quality due to their selection of the teas that go into the bags.
(As a side note, I consider bagged tea containing full leaves to be a waste, since the full leaves don’t get to open, and therefore to brew, fully. If you want to use full-leaf tea for your cloudy day potful, just dump the leaves loose into the pot, add your water heated to the proper temperature, let it steep, and then strain the liquid from the tea leaves when pouring into your cup.)
Part of that all-important atmosphere is finding the right setting for enjoying your tea. Pick your favorite spot, either at home, at the office, or in a café or restaurant. For example, you may have a loveseat, sofa, or recliner in a room overlooking your backyard, or maybe your dining table is a good spot where you can imbibe that fresh brew while working on a crossword puzzle or that jigsaw of a lighthouse (in fog, of course) in the cozy warmth of a table lamp while the grey skies bring much-needed rain. There is no one spot. Just select whatever setting is meaningful to you where you can relax for even a few moments. If the kids have the day off from school, turn that cloudy day teatime into some quality time with them.
While writing this article, I’m hearing booming thunder and watching much-needed rain drench our parched lawn and fill up the bird baths. Hubby’s sipping his tea and munching on his teatime snack, including some huge, juicy, red strawberries that make me break out just looking at them. I have to content myself with tea and a big slice of lemon meringue pie.
Hope I’ve given you a few good ideas. Now, it’s up to you. Make the most of these cloudy Summer days and give yourself a much-deserved “time out” all at once. Enjoy!
Spend your next rainy day checking out Tea Time with A.C. Cargill!