ice tea

With summer finally here we can look forward to more time spent outside entertaining friends and family, but not all garden parties are boozy barbecue affairs. With the rising popularity of brunches and weekend drop-ins you want to be able to serve up refreshing cooling drinks quickly and with minimum fuss. Somewhat tarnished by the syrupy nature of shop bought versions; iced tea is less popular here than it is across the pond. However, homemade iced tea is the simplest thing to make and, if health reports are to be believed, it might even do you some good. More importantly with the growing current trend for cold brewing the hectic host does not even have to boil the kettle.

For dried loose teas, measure around a teaspoon into a glass and top up with the relevant amount of cold water. Place in the fridge and leave it their over night. Te a made this way will have a much subtler taste so if you prefer something stronger play around with the amount. However cold brew tea will not be bitter at all and should not need any sweetening, also it will not be cloudy unlike tea made with boiling water. Check out Le Chandelier for their remarkable selection of loose teas, my current favourite is the organic Mao Jian, a green tea that is described beautifully as;  ‘Clean, rounded, full and grassy with faint seaweed complexities. Brisk and refreshing with a textured finish.’

SMBS, as well as our other local specialist food stores, have a great selection of herbal and fruit tea bags that also work extremely well when cold brewed. Sensational for summer is Yogi‘s rose tea, made in the same way, allowing one bag per glass and leave over night in the fridge. Check the back of the box to see if the used tea bags are biodegradable, the majority (including Yogi) are, and you can compost them.

If you want to get even closer to nature you can make cold brewed teas with fresh herbs from your garden or green grocers. Pregnant women beware too much thyme, and some other culinary herbs are thought to be dangerous in large doses. Mint, however, is believed to be completely safe and in the early stages of pregnancy can help with morning sickness. Mint is also an obviously refreshing choice for summer – I also find a glass a great way to start the day. Take lots of fresh mint, stalk and all, the tip here is to slightly crush and tear the leaves and snap the stalks so you release as many oils as possible. Push into a jug, top off with water and place in the fridge overnight. I tend to make this much stronger than it will eventually be drunk as I find with fresh, botanical ingredients the results can vary. Dilute to taste once it has fully steeped and serve over ice with a squeeze of fresh lemon or a slice of juicy orange. Thirsty yet?

Lawrence Roullier White writes the Hectic Host for SE22.  @RoullierWhite

This feature first appeared in the June 2015 issue of SE22 magazine.