Quenching the thirst of a long HOT summer...
"Miss, could you repeat that," the waitress asked my wife for the third time. "Ahhssd Teee, please" she patiently answered again. The waitress, still baffled just shook her head, gave us a pen and asked us to write it down. My wife took the pen and wrote in block letters on a napkin I-C-E-D T-E-A."You mean you want tea with ice?" to which we both exclaimed, "YES, That's it!" This conversation took place while my wife and I were living in Minneapolis, Minnesota during her time at Anesthesia School. And even with our Texas accents aside, the idea of iced tea in that part of the world was and I assume still is, completely alien.
I mention this because this summer in the U.S.A is going down in the books as one of the hottest in many years! As a Texan I have to mention (yes, it's always bigger, better, hotter etc. here) my favorite local weatherman, Jim Spencer noted recently that by this time last year we had already experienced over 50 days when it was 100 degrees or hotter in Austin, Texas. We've been blessed with a "normal" summer this year but it is still HOT. Now...I was born and raised in Texas and I am one of those odd sorts who actually enjoy the heat. There are times when you've been cooped up in the office or car with the AC cranking all day and the moment you first step out into the blast furnace of a Texas Summer and it just envelopes you, it feels GOOD! In a weird way I find it comforting but I remind myself that I am happy to be out of the construction business (a place I toiled for mote than sixteen years) where I used to spend way too much time in the harshest of elements.
In Austin we have many ways to beat the heat. I've previously written about my favorite ice cream location, Amy's Ice Creams and everyone in Austin has a chance to enjoy the cool waters of Barton Springs Pool. Many years ago when I was single and shared a house with my brother we went through a bizarre period of no air conditioning which, I know is completely insane in these parts! I spent a lot of time at the Library,numerous movie theaters, Book Stores and assorted water holes as well as cultivating relationships with girls who DID have air conditioning! One of the best ways that we stay cool in Texas, rich or poor, tall or short, intelligent or otherwise is with a tall glass of Iced tea. It is more than a way of life in Texas for just about everyone. I grew up drinking it at most meals, on my Grandmother's back porch, at friends houses, funky cafes and the finest dining establishments and frankly it's just a way of life in Texas and the South. Everyone has their own way of making tea and it's a hotly discussed issue no matter where you go.
My current favorite method for making iced tea comes from the founder of the legendary Sweet Leaf Tea Company, Clayton Christopher. The locally founded company went nationwide awhile back and if you are lucky you may live in an area where the many wonderful varieties of teas and lemonades are readily available. If not OR you are just a fan of homemade iced tea I am including his grandmother's recipe here. And before I get flooded with different recipes for the "best" iced tea, I realize that there are as many variations of recipes as there are grandmothers and great aunts but try this, it's as delicious as it is refreshing!
You will need the following items pictured below:
To whip up a batch of iced tea follow these directions:
1 ounce high quality, organic tea leaves (Don't waste time with any of the pre-bagged stuff, compared to the leaf varieties the rest is floor sweepings, if that is a word)
1/2 gallon carbon filtered water
1 1/8 cups of organic sugar
1. Bring 1/2 gallon of high quality, carbon filtered water to a boil. Water should be carbon filtered to remove chlorine which can be achieved with a Brita.
2. Turn off heat; stir in one ounce loose, organic tea leaves to water.
3. Let sit 5 minutes, uncovered.
4. Add 1 cup of sugar to large, ice filled pitcher. If using tea bags, remove bags from boiling water and add sugar to hot tea.
5. Pour tea through strainer into pitcher.
6. Pour over ice filled pitcher, stir and enjoy!
Of course, you can always leave OUT the sugar and substitute some other sweetener and even jazz it up with an assortment of herbs or libations whatever your tastes may crave. In the meantime, I hope this helps cool down your summer a bit and in spite of the heat we are still living The Good Life in Austin, Texas !
NOTE: This is post is NOT an endorsement for any political group or candidate ;-)