Thursday, June 4, 2009

The ice(d) tea cometh

It's still alarmingly autumnal in teasquared land, but we're seizing upon and relishing the occasional slivers of summer that slip through. Any day now will be warm and sunny enough to place a pitcher on the porch for the afternoon — sun tea. This was Mom's summer staple. She'd throw three or four bags of Lipton into a glass pitcher and set it out on a table in back. I used to sit next to it and meditate on the changing color. Ever. So. Slowly. My young hair going blond in the sun at about the same rate. That night, on the table next to Mom's chicken or Dad's steaks, there they'd be — those tall plastic tumblers, stacked with ice cubes, filled with tea.

We call that ice tea where I comes from. Not "iced." As my friend and fellow native Okie, Mark Brown, once wrote in his food ’zine, Argentfork (now topped with bloggin' goodness):
"I tried to type that 'iced tea,' with the 'd,' even spoke it aloud as I wrote it, but it just got in the way. Only folks who live north need that 'd.' My people can't wait for the consonant to catch up before they move from the adjective to the subject. It comes out, 'Ice-tuh ... tea,' which isn't clear to anybody. Tea on ice is not Tea Party tea. It's William Faulkner tea. It is ice tea. It is our'n."
Mark also made a fine argument for the unadorned beauty of ice tea. I, too, shy away from the flavored varieties, not only because I'd like to avoid the extra sugar (usually of the highly fructosey, corny and syruppy variety) but because I'd like to taste the actual tea. If I wanted to taste raspberry, I wouldn't be drinking tea, ma'am. I don't even want the lemon. "Tea's flavored already," Mark wrote. "It needs dried apricot only if you hate the taste of tea and, hence, require fruit to diffuse it." (That didn't stop him, however, from including some fruity-tea recipes in this newspaper story a while back. Also, check out the recipe there for Lapsang Souchong burgers!)

What do you make ice tea with? Ceylon? Keemun? Assam? Others?

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