Saturday, June 8, 2013

Tea Time

The clink of ice in a tall glass of tea is one of the most welcome sounds of summer. It brings back memories of sitting on the glider on the front porch and watching the cars go by on Lincoln Highway, memories of listening to my parents’ friends chatting around the kitchen table, memories of playing endless games of Monopoly with my brothers in the cool basement.

My mother did not make instant tea or buy tea already made and sweetened. She boiled a big pot of water, steeped bags of tea while it was still hot, added a generous mountain of sugar, and then put it in the refrigerator to cool. We had no icemaker then, so she poured water into aluminum ice-cube trays. Does anyone remember carefully transporting the trays into the freezer to avoid spilling water? Back then it made a huge difference because the freezer had to be defrosted when ice built up. When the cubes were hard, Mom pulled the lever to release them—and what a horrid sound that made, like fingernails on a chalkboard. She tipped the cubes into an ice bucket and deposited two in a glass before pouring the chilled tea over them.

Iced tea was more special then, perhaps because it took more time to make and more effort to give it a frosty chill. Maybe that’s why the memories of iced tea from my childhood are so vivid and special.

Now that summer is here, there is always a pitcher of iced tea in my refrigerator. This month’s BonApp├ętit has a recipe for making tea without boiling water and another for a peach syrup to flavor it. You really should check it out.

Here’s my version of this summer staple:
 Linda’s Ten-Minute Iced Tea
2 cups water
5 bags of black tea
generous handful of mint leaves
¼ cup sugar
Additional water
Put two cups of water, tea, and mint leaves into a 4-cup glass measuring container. Microwave on high for 4 minutes. Remove from microwave and let sit for 5 minutes to brew. Put sugar into a half-gallon Tupperware pitcher (or other heatproof container). Strain the steeped tea into the pitcher and stir to dissolve the sugar. Add about 3 cups of ice cubes to the container and continue to stir. Fill container with water. Serve.

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