Warmer days are here and it's definitely time for bright, cool and refreshing iced tea! Great iced tea starts, of course, with great tea. At PCC we sell a wide variety of loose-leaf teas in our bulk tea section. Two of my favorites actually are based on tea grown right here in Washington state by Richard Sakuma in the Skagit Valley.
The Jasmine Pearl Tea Merchants out of Portland, Ore., have partnered with Mr. Sakuma to offer these amazing blends: Sakuma Northwest Blackberry features smoky black tea woven with blackberry leaves, raspberry leaves and lemon balm and Sakuma Northwest White is made with delicate white peony tea blended with certified organic nettles and lavender. Gorgeous!
6 to 8 teaspoons loose tea of your choice
4 cups fresh, cold filtered water (don't use tap water that contains chlorine — it will ruin the taste)
2 to 3 teaspoons sugar, honey or your favorite sweetener (optional)
Lots of good ice
Place the tea in a teapot with a strainer, a French press or any apparatus that can be used to strain out the tea after it steeps.
Bring the water to a boil. If your tea blend is based on black tea, pour the water just from the boil over the tea and let it steep for 4 to 5 minutes. If your tea is a green, white or an herbal blend, let the water cool for a minute or two and then pour it over. Steep this mixture for 3 to 4 minutes. (You will find that opinions on the length of time for steeping teas vary greatly! These are the times I find work best for me.) If you want a stronger flavored tea, increase the amount of tea, not the steeping time. Black, green and white teas will be become bitter if they steep too long.
If you want to sweeten your tea, now is the time to do it. Add the sugar, honey or your favorite sweetener to the hot mixture to help it dissolve.
Have a pitcher filled with ice at the ready and pour the tea, through its strainer, directly over the ice. This will shock the tea and preserve its flavor.
Serve the tea in tall glasses over ice and drink "as is" or garnish with lemon, lime, fresh fruit or sprigs of fresh herbs.