July means Summer, and Summer means Iced Tea!
Today, we are going to take a look at some amazing flavors created by the master tea blenders at Harney & Sons to make delicious iced tea.
Tea is the second most consumed drink in the world, surpassed only by—who’da thunk it—water. There’s black tea, green tea, white tea, and all the flavorings of those teas (I’ll take a lovely cuppa of a good Earl Grey any day). That got us thinking: what exactly is tea? After researching the topic (we drilled down three pages of search returns!), we now know that all “tea” actually comes from the same versatile plant, the Camellia sinensis. Slightly mind-blowing, I know, and that’s hardly an epithet bandied about in the mostly genteel world of tea drinking. Assam and Gunpowder from the same plant? Get on outa here!
Technically speaking, herbal tea is not tea, as it is not from Camellia sinensis. “Herbal tea” is an infusion or blend of leaves, fruits, bark, roots, or flowers of almost any edible, non-tea plant. Which is not to diss the herbals, because after doing the research for this article, we realize we love both kinds. Both, I tell you!
Harney & Sons: Master Tea Blenders
Harney & Sons has for three generations been producing splendid (splendid, /ˈsplendəd/, adjective: magnificent; very impressive) bagged and loose leaf tea in the US, made from pure ingredients sourced from around the world. Their delicious blends are available both online and in luxury goods shops, coffee shops, and retailers everywhere.
The four ice-tea-specific blends we tried were:
Not to give anything away but…every one of them was a delight. We tried the Blood Orange first, and declared it the most delicious thing ever in the history of the world. Then we tried the Raspberry Herbal, and affirmed that no iced tea could top it. Our next libation was the Organic Green, which we proclaimed as the top of the top of the iced tea world. Finally, we imbibed the Organic Plain, which was without a doubt the best possible iced tea ever to exist.
Yeah…we could not declare a “winner” because they were all so, admirably (I was going to say “d@mnably” but that seems uncouth for this particular subject) delicious. Different, distinct, but delicious.
Harney & Sons offers these lovely iced teas in makes-two-quarts large tea bags (I cannot bring myself to call them “pouches”), six of them in these fetching decorated tins, as well as 15 of them in H&S’s signature resealable bag. They have thoughtfully packaged many of their hot teas into iced-tea-pitcher sized bags, which is a boon not only in the Summer get-together department (no measuring, makes a lot), but in the cleanup department as well (no wet tea bits clinging to everything, just toss the bag and you’re done).
P.S. It is possible to make a second pitcher of iced tea with these sachets; the second pitcher is much lighter in flavor, of course, but still lovely. Kind of like the difference between a soup and a broth, I would say.
Capresso Iced Tea Maker: Sonofabitch it works
The Capresso Iced Tea Maker is a perfect gadget to pair with Harney & Sons iced teas. Nobody we explained the process to believed us (“that doesn’t make sense”), so we had to have a little get together to prove it.
The Capresso Iced Tea Maker brews tea—hot tea, we’re talking—in the back, and, uh, drips it onto a bunch of ice in the pitcher in the front. When the tea is done brewing/dripping, you have yourself a pitcher of iced tea. Cold. Iced. Tea. Seriously.
One of us—not the writer—got all surmisedly technical and pitched the pitcher to one of our guests using physics, chemistry, and possibly a quip about the space/time continuum, and while said guest understood every word said person said (and in the order he said them!), I could tell by the look on his face that he was not convinced. And so, I just poured the guest a lovely glass of just-finished-being-made iced tea and handed it to him: “Oh wow,” were I believe his exact words.
So yes, some of the ice gets melted during the, concocting, of the tea (something about the exchange of rates of speed of atoms, if you must know) but not all of it does, and really, it’s a perfect amount of iced tea for about eight guests, enough to fill those tall iced tea glasses (have have already been filled with ice).
One nota bene: the pitcher is made of glass, a lovely good quality glass, but not that heavy, thick glass that a lot of pitchers are made from. And if, oh, in your excitement to make your very first pitcher of iced hot tea you gleefully drop large round ice cubes—that new size and shape that’s very on trend right now—into the pitcher, you will have to wait at least three days to make that pitcher of iced tea because you will have cracked the bottom of the pitcher with your foolhardiness and will need to get another pitcher. What one of us has learned—possibly the writer but really it’s good practice for any person—is that one needs to respect the pitcher and place the ice into the container, not drop the ice. Also, smaller/normal sized ice is probably better as the first layer.
Cleanup of the Capresso Iced Tea Maker is a cinch: rinse out the pitcher, rinse off the lid of the pitcher, pull out the basket of tea leaves and rinse upside down; put everything back together (we’ve found in the Summer you don’t even need to dry things off) and you’re ready for your next easy-peasy pitcher of iced tea. I can tell you, the combination of the the Harney & Sons iced tea bags and the Capresso Iced Tea Maker makes cleanup about four seconds. Love that!
Brew some delicious Harney & Sons iced tea, stay cool and enjoy the Summer while it is here. Because before you know it, we’ll all be under three feet of snow again!
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