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The summer of iced tea (and coffee)

One of the many, many things I love about visiting the States in summer is the availability of iced tea. It’s a real everyday luxury: just ordinary black tea, served chilled with loads of ice, lemon and sometimes a garnish of mint. Every normal cafe will serve it, and often restaurants too. Yet in Britain and Ireland – the home of tea, surely – it’s unknown.

The nearest equivalent you can get here is the iced Liptons stuff that’s flavoured with lemon or peach. I used to enjoy this but lately, I’ve found it way too sugary and I think it contains lots of flavourings and artificial stuff. I get really thirsty in summer, and I love drinking water but sometimes you need a change. More and more I find I want a summer drink that’s cold and refreshing, tastes interesting but isn’t too sweet. Step forward my new ‘cocktail’ – iced green tea with lemon. The Greenteani?

I semi-invented this last night in Camino restaurant in Kings Cross (great Spanish food – I highly recommended it) with the help of a kind Spanish barman. I asked him if they had iced tea and he said he could try and make some. I suggested iced green tea, and he suggested adding some lemon juice and a dash of sugar syrup. He made the tea quite strong, let it cool briefly, shook it in a cocktail shaker with some ice, lemon juice and sugar syrup and then poured it into a tall glass with lots of ice and a few more lemon slices. I wish I’d taken some pictures, it looked so pretty and was so refreshing. As my friend kept saying, ‘You’d never know it was green tea.’ (Like many people, she likes the idea of green tea but not the tea itself. I sympathise). It was also very nice that the barman was so keen to try it out – I love it when people take pride in their work and want to accommodate your awkward requests.

Here’s how you make it at home:

Greenteani (serves 1)

Boil kettle, enough for 1 mug of tea.
Pour hot water into mug over green tea bag and a half teaspoon of sugar, stirring to let it dissolve (it won’t do this if you put it in the cold tea).
Pour into a tall glass and let the tea cool for ten minutes or so. (You can stick it in the fridge to speed it up too).
Fill the glass with ice and stir til it’s melted. This is much easier in a cocktail shaker, but what you can also do is pour it back and forth between two glasses so that the whole drink cools down.
Add more ice, the juice of half a lemon, some lemon slices and a mint leaf, if you have one.

Voila! You can also do this with normal tea, of course, and any kind of herbal tea. I feel this is going to be the summer of iced tea (and iced coffee, mmm, but not Frappucinos). I’m going to continue asking for it in cafes and bars and see what happens. Join me! Together we can start a trend!

Thanks to this nice Toronto cafe for the picture. I’ll definitely stop by next time I’m there.

Anyone else have any nice non-alcoholic cocktails?

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