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Summer Tea Trends

The weather’s piping hot, and we’re getting to that time of year when we all need something on hand to stay hydrated. About 75% of us Americans are chronically dehydrated. Studies have shown that even mild dehydration can adversely affect fatigue, mood, and concentration, and bring on anxiety and headaches [1] [2]. But maybe water is too plain for you, soda too sugary, and hydration mixes overly loaded with chemicals. If you’re looking for something more natural to keep you well hydrated, there are a plethora of teas out there for you, and the ways they can be prepared are only limited by the imagination. Let’s be honest though—if you landed here, you probably already know your way around a cup of tea pretty well. 

Humans have been drinking tea by boiling water and adding leaves for over 2000 years, and this is a practice that has both endured and spread to every continent—Antarctica included! But it’s far from the only way to get your daily tea goodness. Plenty of people swear by hot tea in any season (and for good reason—hot tea tastes fantastic) but whether you’re looking for new and exciting ways to make tea or trying to decide on how to make your next cup, this post will give you some ideas that won’t disappoint.

Iced Tea:

iced tea

Let’s start simple. There’s a good chance you’ve had a bottle or can of sweet iced tea at some point in your life. The good news is, though, that making your own is not only easy but far better tasting and better for you than store bought. There are a few ways of making iced tea, each with their own unique flavor, but none of them are hard. Trying all of them is a great excuse to drink more tea and find the perfect way to make it for the weather. 

If you’re set in your tea making ways, you can always brew a cup of your favorite tea with hot water, then put it in the refrigerator until it’s cool. If you don’t want to wait all that time, try brewing your tea 2-3 times stronger and packing it with ice when it’s done steeping. When the ice melts, your tea will dilute and you’ll be left with a perfect chilled cup full of flavor. The hot water will extract the flavor from your tea just like always, though by rapidly cooling the tea certain molecules that would otherwise be broken down by the heat of the water will be preserved [3]. For a larger batch, using either method, try an Iced Tea Pouch for convenient measuring and clean up.

While a strong iced black tea with sugar and lemon is classic, don’t be afraid to experiment by throwing some fruit in with the tea while it steeps, swapping out sugar for honey, agave, or maple syrup, using a different type of tea, or adding other ingredients—condensed milk and/or coconut milk is common in Thailand, while a couple years ago adding a sweet cream cheese topping to iced tea was a huge trend in China, called “cheese tea.” Some of these might not be everyone’s favorite, but if you give them a chance they just might be your “cup of tea.”

Cold Brew:

cold brew tea

Speaking of lower temperatures giving your tea a different flavor, if you know you’ll be drinking some tea later, cold brewing is definitely worth a shot. While it can take anywhere from 10 minutes to hours for cold brew tea to be ready (depending on the type of tea leaf), all but the first minute or so is waiting. Simply put your tea in your drinking vessel of choice, fill with water, place in your refrigerator, and come back later. In fact, since it steeps slower, you don’t need to worry so much about the precise timing of your infusion. Or you can cold brew on the go with a Cold Brew Sport Bottle. Brewed hot, 30 seconds can make a world of difference with a green tea, whereas 30 minutes might not have a noticeable effect on your cold brew. The lack of heat draws the flavors out more slowly, and leaves some of the more bitter tannins in the leaves, and as such cold brew often has a smoother flavor. The cooler water also allows you to avoid the risk of using the wrong temperature water with more delicate teas, such as green or white. If you don’t want to wait all that time, you could try brewing your tea for 30 minutes or so at room temperature depending on your own personal taste. Bear in mind, though, that unlike coffee, the slower extraction means that cold brew tea tends to have just a bit less caffeine. 

Kombucha:

kombucha tea

Kombucha is a delightfully strange drink. Some people love it, some people hate it, but it’s definitely worth a try. This fermented tea beverage has existed for centuries—if not longer—but it’s popularity has grown from a cult following to something more widespread in recent years. Because of how it ferments, Kombucha is naturally carbonated, and considerably less caffeinated than other teas or tea based drinks—It’s also slightly alcoholic, though rarely enough for it to be considered an alcoholic beverage by the relevant regulatory bodies. If you do like kombucha and you’re looking for a summer project, you can also try making it yourself! All you need is some well caffeinated plain tea (black tea works well so long as there are no added flavors) and a SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast that’s used to ferment the kombucha base). It’s a fraction of the cost, and fairly easy once you get into it!

Mocktails and Cocktails:

tea cocktail

If your usual cup of tea isn’t quite doing it for you, have no fear. Tea is a fantastic ingredient to add to other drinks, and the right combination can bring out flavors in both. Next time you’re not quite sure what to add to your tea, try some bar syrups or mixers. If you’re not sure where to start, here are two great mocktail recipes to try—Blood Orange Mocktail and Summer Hibiscus Cooler. If you’re looking for something a bit stronger, have no fear—kombucha can be a fantastic mixer, and something like whiskey can pair well with black tea, while rum goes swimmingly with green teas. If you have a favorite iced tea recipe, there’s usually room for a bit of vodka as a way to up the proof of any cocktail. But while many cocktails were carefully and lovingly crafted, an equal number were made on the fly when a bartender realized they had too much of something or not enough of another thing. Feel free to experiment until you have the perfect drink in your glass!

Boba:

boba tea

Everyone’s favorite dessert tea has been getting more and more popular every year, with this summer arguably being its biggest yet in America. Compared to some of the other drinks on this list, boba is actually a pretty recent phenomenon: first made in the late 80s in Taiwan, it quickly spread across the world, and it’s no surprise why. Boba  (or bubble tea) is sweet tea, often with milk, and always with tapioca pearls. Big straws let you suck up the pearls while you drink the tea, adding a delightful texture to an already fantastic drink. With the rate at which new boba spots seem to be opening up, if there isn’t one near you there’s a reasonable chance there will be soon. Still, if you don’t feel like going out to get some, you can make your own. Packaged tapioca pearls are available at some stores, or you can make them yourself with tapioca starch, sugar, and a bit of kneading. While black milk tea is traditional, once you’ve made the tapioca pearls they’re equally easy to add to any iced tea, with or without milk. If you choose fruit tea as a base, bear in mind that if your tea is too acidic it will curdle any milk you try to add—my rule of thumb is to not add milk if hibiscus is in the ingredients. 

Baking and Cooking:

matcha ice cream

Sometimes just drinking tea isn’t enough for me. Here are some recipes to remedy that. You can actually eat tea in your food with every meal of the day! I don’t know if I’d recommend that, strictly speaking, but it still goes to show how versatile tea can be as an ingredient. 

Matcha is always the first thing I think of when I’m trying to add tea to something. A good breakfast for the summer is matcha overnight oats—they’re quick, easy, cold, and as a bonus, the matcha will give you a little bit of extra caffeine too! Since matcha is a powder, it’s incredibly easy to add to almost anything you bake. Matcha isn’t the only way to add tea to your food though: smoky teas work great in marinades, green tea can be added to some salad dressings or fruit salads, tea eggs are great on their own or as a way of spicing up your ramen, and there’s never a bad time for for earl grey shortbread. 

At the end of the day, I’ve never been much of a prescriptivist. Everything on this list was the result of an accident, a risk, or a tea lover adding tea to something else they loved, and we have some undeniably delicious innovations as a result. Get creative with your tea and who knows, maybe you’ll be behind the next big tea trend—someone has to be!

 

References:

[1] Armstrong, Lawrence E., et al. “Mild Dehydration Affects Mood in Healthy Young Women.” The Journal of Nutrition, vol. 142, no. 2, 21 Dec. 2011, pp. 382–388., doi:10.3945/jn.111.142000. 

[2] Ganio, Matthew S., et al. “Mild Dehydration Impairs Cognitive Performance and Mood of Men.” British Journal of Nutrition, vol. 106, no. 10, 2011, pp. 1535–1543., doi:10.1017/S0007114511002005.

[3] Lantano, Claudia et al. “Effects of alternative steeping methods on composition, antioxidant property and colour of green, black and oolong tea infusions.” Journal of food science and technology vol. 52,12 (2015): 8276-83. doi:10.1007/s13197-015-1971-4

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