‘A woman is like a tea bag. You can never tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.’

-Eleanor Roosevelt

by Chrysa Smith

I just got a notice that June is National Iced Tea month. And, in doing a little research, found out that the iced variety of my favorite drink is another clever American invention. USA! USA! Oh, excuse me for the little cheer, but I love stories about American food discovery, and here it is:

According to my internet research, samples of hot tea were ready for sampling at the 1904 summer World’s Fair in St. Louis. The Midwest in summertime is as hot as—well most of the country. So, good old American ingenuity kicked in, and the beverage was iced down in order to cool down the attendees. Voila! Iced tea was born.

Sounds simple enough, but of course, we can’t agree there. We have the sweet, southern variety, the unsweetened variety (often served with lemon) all those herbal, fruity varieties which I’ll leave for the herbalists to discuss, the tincture of black and green teas, organic brews sweetened with stevia or honey, twisted tea—-you get the idea.

So much tea, so little time. So buy it if you must. Guess you’re not surprised that I make my own—but in a pinch, really do like the Unsweetened Nestea on tap—you can find it at a surprisingly shrinking number of places like Panera Bread—probably because the sweetened raspberry and other fruit flavors are more popular. But if you want a quick way to brew up some good fresh tea, without having to cook a thing, here it is:

Get a glass bottle. Fill it with some cold, fresh water. Insert a few tea bags. Cover it and place it in the sun. In the hot, humid days of summer, it takes no time at all to brew this sun tea. Bring it in and discard the tea bags once it has steeped to the color of your liking. Once you take it out of the sun and let it rest, you can ice it, then drink it. I don’t sweeten mine, and using the sun as the heat source could get tricky, so maybe save the sweetening for individual servings. I get such a kick out of using the sun to cook. Remember, it’s the little things in life—

So, if you must be traditional, boil up a pot of cold water on the stovetop. Add your teabags and let it steep for a few minutes. Sweeten. Cool. Ice. Drink. If you feel you need to work from a recipe, check out this one: http://serendipitea.com/Category.aspx?CategoryID=45.

Stay cool and hydrated this summer.
And drink on, strong ladies–drink on.