by Kate Heyhoe
Tea has made a comeback as a popular, hip and even healthful beverage. Hot or iced, herbal or caffeinated, sweetened or black, tea is the universal drink that can be served in zillions of ways to suit any occasion.
Below is a recipe for Catalina Citrus Sun Tea. And don't miss The Origins of Tea and another tea recipe from the Book of Tea.
Many tea enthusiasts are purists regarding the way tea must be made and served. In The Tea Book, Sara Perry's requirements for brewing a perfect pot of tea are simple and universally accepted amongst tea connoisseurs. Basically, the quality, quantity and temperature of the water used is most important. Figure on one slightly rounded teaspoon of dried tea leaves per 6-ounce cup, and if desired, an extra spoon "for the pot." Only water which is fully boiling will be able to extract the most essence from the leaves, and the leaves should steep from 3 to 5 minutes. The leaves must unroll to give off their flavor, and thus the smaller the leaf, the less time for steeping. Overly steeped tea will develop a bitter taste.
Of course, the quality of the tea itself is equally as important as the water, and depends on both the raw leaves and the ways they are treated after harvest. Essentially, the interaction of air and the leaf juices result in a type of non-alcoholic fermentation that determines the overall flavor of a tea. Such differences in processing result in three main categories of tea. Green teas are steamed to actually prevent fermentation, resulting in a tea that tastes most like the raw product. Black teas are commonly drunk by Americans and the British in the forms of Lipton, Pekoe, Breakfast and other varieties that are considerably fermented. Oolong teas fall somewhere between the two in both processing methods and flavor, and can be amongst the most highly prized.
A note of clarification is in order here: all true teas are of the genus Camellia sinensis, an evergreen shrub. An "herb" tea is actually a popular term for an infusion or tisane, in which herbs or other plants, dried or fresh, are steeped in boiling water. They have their own varied and delightful flavors and are desirable to those wishing to avoid caffeine, which is a natural component of all true teas. There are an excellent variety of dried herbal teas on the market these days, and they are equally as refreshing iced as they are hot. I have great fun in the summertime brewing mixed varieties of herb and fruit teas into pitchers of naturally sweet, and sometimes even spicy, icy cold beverages, served in tall glasses, garnished with spears of fresh fruit, paper parasols, and festive straws—a la Trader Vic's.
Here's a quick way to brew tea, whether it's on the sunny beaches of California's Catalina Island or on a sunny windowsill. The addition of fresh orange and lemon juice makes this a refreshing summertime drink.
3 rounded tablespoons (9 to 12 bags) black tea
4 cups (1 quart) cold water
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
6-inch sprig of mint
2 cups fresh orange juice
Juice of 1 lemon
1 peeled (with membrane removed) and seeded orange, cut into thin pieces
Orange, in half moon slices for garnish
Mint leaves for garnish
In a glass jar, combine the tea, water, sugar and mint sprig. Screw on the cap and shake gently. Place the jar in a warm, sunny location for 3 hours.
Blend the orange juice and lemon juice into the tea mixture. Strain the mixture through a sieve, and add the orange pieces. Refrigerate for several hours before serving, with orange slices and mint leaves for garnish.
Makes 4 servings
Variation: For thirst-quenching Early Mint Sun Tea, use 2 rounded tablespoons Earl Grey tea, and a sprig of mint, and omit the orange and lemon juice. Chill after straining the loose tea and mint.
To make a Raspberry Fizz, fill a glass 1/3 to 1/2 full of Catalina Citrus Sun tea, and top with your favorite sparkling water, flavored with either raspberry essence or raspberry juice. Garnish with skewers of fresh raspberry and mint.
To make a Hollywood Spritzer, place 1 tablespoon of Cointreau in the bottom of a chilled glass. Fill the glass half-full of chilled Catalina Citrus Sun Tea, and top with an inexpensive champagne. Garnish with a strawberry.
The Tea Book
Copyright 1993 by Sara Perry and Judith Ann Rose
Photography Copyright 1993 by Edward Gowans
Reprinted by permission.
The Origins of Tea and another tea recipe.
This page originally published as a Global Gourmet Today column in 1998.
Copyright © 2007, Kate Heyhoe. All rights reserved.
This page modified January 2007
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