Growing up in Mississippi, summers could be oppressive, with a capital O. The summer between my third and fourth grade years, we rented a ramshackle house smack dab in the middle of a cotton field. You can think it’s hot, but when there’s nothing but shriveled, brown shrubs as far as the eye can see, that’s when you know it’s hot. And you can’t fight it. You just have to accept it and try to plan your events around ceiling fans or catfish ponds.
At the end of a full, hot day outside, my brother and I would tramp into the house and chug a great big glass of iced tea, rivulets of overflow streaming down our chins and necks. Iced tea will always remind of the hot summer days of my youth, even though I drink it in the dead of winter, too.
Even though I’ve been drinking tea just about my entire life, I’ve gained a new respect for the stuff lately. Science has shown that tea is important in overall health. All teas contain polyphenols, a type of antioxidant that may help prevent some cancers. Some studies have shown that tea helps to lower cholesterol, bolster the immune system, increase metabolism, and even strengthen bones.
All tea (except herbal tea) is from the same tea plant – the camellia tea plant. But the difference between black, green, and white is the drying process used. Black teas ferment the camellia leaves, green teas are withered then steamed, and oolong tea is a combination of fermenting and steaming. White tea includes not just the leaves but tender buds as well and is gently steamed.
Here at FRESH, we have more than just the usual suspects when it comes to tea bags, with a big variety of green, red and herbal teas all ready for the iced tea maker. So, in honor of National Ice Tea Day – that’s tomorrow – why not brew up something a little different, open up a window, sit back, and beat the heat. Because nothing says summer like rocking chairs, screened-in porches, hammocks, and the clinking of ice in a tall glass of freshly made tea.
Here are some of my current favorites:
Scarlet Glow Iced Tea: Lively, sweet, fruity blend of hibiscus and elderflower. The hibiscus gives a tart zing while the stevia added to this blend gives a natural, light sweetness. It’s caffeine-free so it can be enjoyed late in the day.
Ceylon Bop Iced Tea: Brews strong, dark, and flavorful, with complex hints of orange and spice.
Mint Iced Tea: Refreshing and invigorating, perfect for a warm day. Caffeine free!
Lychee Red Iced Tea: Naturally sweet flavor from lychee, a delicate, aromatic fruit native to China and especially popular throughout Asia.
Hibiscus Oolong Iced Tea: An infusion of flavorful Oolong tea, complimented by the tart tang of whole hibiscus blossoms.
Kukicha Green Iced Tea: Kukicha tea is sometimes called twig tea. It comes from the stalk of the Sencha and Gyokuro teas. It has a bright yellow color and a sweet grassy note and a hint of chestnut. It’s typically lower in caffeine.