Iced Teas Atop America's Hit Parade
The first World’s Fair in the United States was held in St. Louis in 1904. One of the exhibitors was a tea plantation owner named Richard Blechynden. He had intended to serve fair goers samples of his hot tea, but an unexpected heat wave spoiled his plans. In an effort to salvage his investment, he offered the parched throngs glasses of brewed tea served with ice. It became an immediate hit and sparked a new American tradition. Fast forward nearly a century and ice cold, freshly brewed tea is still an American favorite.
There are four main types of tea on the world market.
Green tea is not fermented before it’s dried. This allows the leaves to retain more of their natural taste, color and aroma. Green tea is typically not blended with other teas and served as a single variety.
Black tea leaves are allowed to ferment in their own moisture before being lightly roasted and dried. The most popular type of tea in the Western world, black teas are rich in tannins and several varieties are frequently mixed together to create now famous blends.
Oolong (Red) tea is allowed to partially ferment prior to roasting and drying. Its color falls between green and black tea. Most oolong teas have delicate, fruity flavors and floral bouquets. It is occasionally blended with black tea for a more pronounced character.
Herbal teas are comprised of the dried or fresh flowers, herbs, seeds, roots and leaves of plants other than tea (Camellia sinensis). Some herbal teas are flavored with fruit, or essential oils and various spices.
Changing Times for Iced Tea
The family-owned and operated Sweet Life is a casual slice of heaven. Located in the posh Snow Mass ski resort in Aspen Colorado the classy little eatery attracts its beautiful clientele with a focused menu of feel good foods and an array of irresistible desserts. The “best burger plates ever” are can’t miss selections, as well their bestselling Mango Marmalade Iced Tea, an Olympic caliber thirst-quencher made with mango-flavored iced tea, orange marmalade, sugar and fresh lemon juice. Served with a mandarin orange slice, the specialty of the house is flavorful, balanced and at $2 is eminently drinkable.
Where once there was only the Arnold Palmer, the timeless combination of iced tea and lemonade, there is now a burgeoning class of iced tea libations to tempt the parched and weary. Popular also at Sweet Life is the Guava Mango Nectar Ice Tea, a sensationally refreshing blend of flavors and textures. Created by manager Jennifer Elmore, the drinks are batched to yield sixty-four, 8-ounce servings.
In addition to its seemingly limitless alcohol-free applications, iced tea has quietly become a major player behind the bar. It is now, however, being viewed as more than just a potable to be served with sugar and a slice of lemon. Mixologists around the country are incorporating iced tea as integral ingredients in some truly engaging drinks. Its leap from the veranda to mainstream mixology can be attributed to tea’s broad range of flavors and accessible, easy-going nature making it an ideal drink ingredient.
As an example, Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain is a luxury resort and spa situated on the northern slope of Camelback Mountain in Paradise Valley, an upscale community wedged between Phoenix and Scottsdale. There the impeccably stylish Jade Bar and Elements Restaurant promote a specialty dubbed the Hibiscus Spiced Tea, a combination of Hangar One Kaffir Lime Vodka, ginger simple syrup and a generous fill with hibiscus herbal tea.
At P.F. Chang’s China Bistro cocktails are king. Among their extensive list of specialties is the Green Tea-Ni, a delectable cocktail made with organic green tea and Charbay Green Tea Vodka.
The Loretto Mojito is an amazingly refreshing concoction devised with a base of Maker’s Mark bourbon. Prepared similarly to the famed Latin, mint-laced classic, the drink also contains a splash of Cointreau and iced tea. The mint and tea lends the drink an herbal quality that plays beautifully with the classically sweet notes in the bourbon.
Another highly creative use of iced tea is the N’Orleans Chiller. Constructed with Bacardi Limón and Cruzan Orange rums, the drink also features a healthy dose of iced herbal tea. It is a crisp and delectably flavorful specialty. The same can be said for the Acapulco Afternoon, a tall, iced signature drink made with Sauza Hornitos tequila and equal parts of lemonade and iced tea. Add in a splash of Squirt and a few sliced lemons and limes and you’re set for the afternoon. Float some Chambord on top and you’ve got the Acapulco Sunset.
House specialty glass, ice
Pour ingredients into empty mixing glass
1/2 oz. simple syrup
5-6 mint sprigs
1 3/4 oz. Maker’s Mark Bourbon
3/4 oz. Cointreau
1/2 oz. fresh lime juice
1 1/2 oz. fresh lemon sour mix
2 1/2 oz. iced tea
Shake and strain
Orange slice and mint sprig garnish
HIBISCUS SPICED TEA
Specialty of Jade Bar
Bucket glass, iced
Build in glass
2 oz. Hanger Lime Vodka
1/2 dash ginger-infused simple syrup
4 oz. Hibiscus Tea
Garnish with lemon twist
House specialty glass, ice
Pour ingredients into iced mixing glass
1 1/2 oz. Bacardi Limon Rum
1 1/2 oz. Cruzan Orange Rum
1 1/2 oz. fresh orange juice
1/2 oz. fresh lemon sour mix
1/2 oz. iced tea
Shake and strain
Orange slice garnish