Brewing Iced Tea
First let's talk iced tea. There are a few different ways to get a nice, cold brew. Many are familiar with the classic method of brewing strong tea in hot water, then chilling, diluting as needed, and adding ice cubes. A tried and true method, but the hot brew should be timed to avoid bitter notes from over-steeping.
A frequently used method at Plum Deluxe is cold brewing, which brings out different flavors in the tea. This method combines two teaspoons of loose leaf tea to eight ounces of cold water and lets it infuse overnight, or at least four to six hours. With black, oolong, green, and white teas, the cold water brings out less tannins (bitterness), so there's no risk of over-steeping. It works just as well with herbal and fruit based teas.
My favorite way to brew in the summer is old fashioned sun tea. It's set up just like cold brew, but left outside in the sun for a few hours. It's the best of both worlds, with the infusion starting as cold brew then being sped up by the warm sun. I swear I can taste the sunshine when I sip it.
Topical Iced Teas
Once you've brewed up your iced teas, it’s time to play. Here's some ideas to inspire tropical vibes.
Mix It Up
With so many different flavored teas, you can mix up any concoction you’re craving. Try mixing different teas together to create your own tropical blend. Abundance Blend green tea and Pineapple Pop herbal tea come together to make a lightly caffeinated, thirst quenching pitcher of tea.
You can also introduce juice into your tea. My favorite tropical iced tea concoction is Just Hibiscus or another hibiscus-based tea topped with lightly sweetened lemonade. Combining orange juice and Smooth Sailing Mango reminds me of a summer drink of orange juice and sun tea from my childhood, while mango juice and Dragonfruit Desire with sparkling water makes a refreshing, fruity drink perfect for lazy afternoons.
Nothing hits the spot on a hot day like a fruity drink blended with ice. Instead of milk or water as a base, use a tropical iced tea! Pineapple Pop makes an excellent piña colada when blended with sweetened coconut cream, fresh pineapple, and rum. Skip the rum, and you have a refreshing tropical smoothie for any time of day.
Tea can be made into a delicious simple syrup that can be used to make cocktails and flavored fizzy water. Start by making a basic simple syrup by combining a 1:1 ration of water to sugar (I like to use one cup of each) and boiling it until the sugar dissolves. Once the sugar has dissolved, add three teaspoons of tea and steep according to package directions. I made a blackberry mojito simple syrup for mojitos using Blackberry Mojito black tea.
- 1 tablespoon of Blackberry Mojito simple syrup, or to taste
- About 10 fresh mint leaves
- 1/2 lime cut into two wedges
- 1.5 ounces white rum
- 1/2 cup soda water
- 2 blackberries
Muddle 1/4 lime, torn mint leaves, and simple syrup in the bottom of a glass.
Add ice to the glass, then add rum and top with soda water.
Use remaining lime, sprig of mint, and blackberries to garnish.
Have you ever enjoyed a creamy iced latte at a café? They are easy enough to make at home and there’s no reason we can't add a tropical spin. Brew a tea concentrate, let it cool, then mix it with milk and ice. You can also make a batch of concentrate ahead of time and have iced lattes at your fingertips. Using honey dust to sweeten cool drinks works like a charm, as the granules dissolve easily. This summer I’ve been mixing up this double coconut latte featuring Coconut a la Crème black tea.
Double Coconut Latte
Brew tea in boiling water for four minutes, then strain into glass and allow to cool for a few minutes.
Stir in honey dust and cream of coconut.
Top with milk and add ice. I prefer to add ice last to allow the other ingredients to cool the tea further so it doesn’t get watered down.
The sun is getting lower in the sky and it has been A DAY. Time to turn your tea into a tropical cocktail. May I introduce the Sunset Fizz? This fancy-looking but oh-so-simple drink uses Pineapple Pop, maraschino cherry juice, honey dust, fruit, soda water, and your rum of choice (I found a pineapple rum at our local bottle shop that is divine) to create a flirtatious summer cocktail that you can pretend was brought out to you by the pool in paradise. I recommend hot brewing and then chilling the tea for the most pineapple flavor.
Make and cool Pineapple Pop completely.
Rim glass with honey dust by lightly wetting the rim and placing top-down on a plate of honey dust, swirling until coated.
Add 4 ounces of tea to the glass. Pour in 1 ounce of rum of choice. Add 1 teaspoon of honey dust and mix until dissolved.
Add a handful of ice to the glass. Top with fruit, soda water, and 2 tablespoons of maraschino cherry juice.
Fruit garnish and tiny umbrella optional, but come on, how cute is that?