Monk’s Blend is great chilled. (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

Monk’s Blend is great chilled. (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

Woohoo! It’s Summer Solstice time once again! Even though the unofficial start of Summer is the Memorial Day Weekend, this is the official start – the day that marks the longest day and shortest night here in the Northern hemisphere (and the reverse for the Southern hemisphere). So, how does this affect your tea drinking, if at all? Two words: iced tea!

The solstice is the “go” button for vacations, picnics, sudden and severe thunderstorms, hurricane season, watching the corn grow as high as an elephant’s eye, and visiting places like Disney World. In the UK, thousands gather at Stonehenge, showing up before sunrise at that strange ring of stones, singing, dancing, and drinking lots of hot tea (even in Summer, that part of England tends to be chilly at sunrise). Then, the sun comes up and it’s the start of a long day of sunshine, with the thought ever present that each successive day will be shorter until the Winter Solstice arrives. Best to make the most of that sunshine.

Back to that iced tea. For some of you, especially those living in the southern half of the U.S., you drink iced tea most of the year. The best way I’ve seen to make a truly flavorful tea is to steep it hot and extra strong (use twice as much tea as usual), sweeten while it’s hot, and then pour into a pitcher filled with ice. (If the pitcher is made of glass, pour slowly to avoid cracking the glass.) [Tip: Don’t worry about cloudiness – my repeated experiments have shown no correlation between a tea being cloudy and how well it tastes.] A fruit-flavored tea is an optimal choice for your iced tea since the fruit pieces often add their natural sweetness so you need less sugar, etc.

That iced tea will get you in the mood for some cool treats, such as cucumber sandwiches with smooth and tangy cream cheese, bright red tomato slices, fresh raw vegetables such as carrots, radishes, leafy greens, and cabbage, plus seasonal fresh fruits. Don’t forget the barbecue, well-basted with the tomato-based sauce or the vinegar kind. And lots of bibs and napkins!

Some of us refuse to cave in to the heat and stick with our hot tea. For us, the solstice’s only effect on our tea drinking is that we have more hours of daylight to see what we’re drinking. We may be included to switch from that masala chai with lots of milk to a green tea with fruit flavoring or even an herbal infusion. For me, I stay with the English Breakfast Blend or one of those top British brands of black tea served hot with milk and sweetener. It goes great with those Summer-time foods.

What ever way this Solstice season might sway you in your tea consumption, enjoy that tea and the long daylight hours.

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

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