*Some of the items in this post have been sent for review
When the weather is hot why not treat yourself to some perfect iced tea to quench your thirst. Serve with some Earl Grey cupcakes for the perfect teatime treat in the garden.
The British are great lovers of a cup of tea. The ritual of putting on a kettle and making a cup of tea has a magic about it. There is a great belief that the cure for everything is a cup of tea. We certainly drink enough of it, as a nation we drink 165 million cups per day. As an ancient Chinese proverb says:
“A day without tea is a day without joy”
Afternoon tea is another of those quintessentially British traditions. A cup of tea around four in the afternoon with the accompaniment of savouries and cakes is a special occasion. It is something everyone should experience and indeed I recently tried afternoon tea at the Copthorne hotel in Newcastle. Afternoon tea is something everyone should try.
Whilst a hot drink of ta is very much a British thing in America you are more likely to find iced tea. Cold tea is not a new thing, cold green tea punches spiked with liquor were popular in the nineteenth century. Iced tea became popular in 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis. The summer was very hot and Richard Blechynden who was offering free hot tea soon realised an iced version would be more popular. The idea caught on and the iced tea is now popular though North America.
There are two types of traditional iced tea in America, Iced Tea and Sweet Tea. The only difference between them is the amount of sugar. Both are a refreshing drink on a hot day in a glass with plenty of ice.
Choosing the right tea for the occasion
It doesn’t matter if you are having a hot cup of tea in the afternoon or an iced tea. The key to having a pleasurable cuppa is in choosing the right tea for the occasion. Not all tea tastes the same. The flavour of the tea depends on how it is grown, processed and brewed. In the growing stage the amount of light reaching the tea will affect the flavour. Green tea and matcha is grown in the shade. Less sun means less chlorophyll will be in the leaves which makes the tea less bitter.
After picking the tea leaves are dried in the sun. The amount of time they are left to dry also impacts the flavour. Green tea is not dried for long whilst black tea will be left to dry the longest. While the tea dries enzymes in the leaves are working to transform leaves which gives the tea its distinctive flavours.
Recently I have been trying out a range of teas from Adagio teas. These are hand-picked teas that are sourced directly from artisan growers to produce tea that is full of flavour. No matter what type of tea you like there is one to suit you. Green tea, black tea, white tea, oolong tea, you name it they have it. If you are unsure which tea to try then you can pick up sampler sets which will help you discover a new favourite.
Being from Newcastle I was pleased to see Earl Grey teas. Earl Grey of the tea fame was a British Prime Minister who was responsible for many reforms over his career. He was also from a local Northumbrian family. He stands atop Greys monument in the centre of Newcastle surveying the city from its lofty heights. The box contains four types of teas: Earl Grey Bravo, Earl Grey Moonlight, Earl Grey Green and Rooibos Earl Grey. These are all loose leaf teas and on opening each of the packets you are met with a wonderful aroma. The teas all have wonderful flavour and are great for baking. The vanilla tones in the Earl Grey moonlight made it perfect for making Earl Grey cupcakes.
How to make the perfect iced tea
Iced tea is easy to make from scratch and is perfect for the summer. All you need are a few tea bags, water and sugar if you like your tea sweet. These are some tips to help you make the perfect iced tea for this hot weather.
- Start with good ingredients. High quality tea will give the best flavour.
- Make sure you use enough tea bags. When you cool the tea the flavour is less intense. A good rule of thumb is to use two tea bags for three cups of water.
- Don’t leave the tea to steep for too long. This can make the tea taste bitter
- If you are using sugar add it to the hot tea before cooling. If you want to sweeten the tea afterwards use sugar syrup. This can be made easily by simmering equal parts of sugar and water until the sugar dissolves. Stir one or two tablespoons into your tea, according to taste.
- Let your tea cool before refrigerating. This stops it going cloudy.
- If you want to add flavour use fresh lemon juice.
Adiago teas have the perfect solution to making iced tea. Their iced tea pouches allow you to make iced tea easily. I have been trying the Roobos vanilla iced tea pouch which has a lovely flavour. All you do is steep the teabag in two pints of water overnight. In the morning you have a pitcher of cold tea, all you need to do is to add ice.
If you are a fan of matcha you can also make a lovely sparkling matcha drink that is perfect for a hot day.
Earl Grey Cupcakes
Whilst experimenting with tea I thought I would try baking using tea and made a batch of Earl Grey cupcakes. I chose to use the Earl Grey Moonlight tea from Adagio which combines the citrus Earl Grey flavour with the taste of vanilla and cream. You can really taste the creamy vanilla tea flavour in the cupcakes and they go perfectly with a glass of iced tea on a hot day. The tea leaves also add a subtle flavour into the butter cream icing. I made a large batch of these cupcakes and they did not last long.
Earl Grey Cupcakes Recipe
Earl Grey Cupcakes
Cupcakes infused with the delicate flavour of Earl Grey tea.
- 2 tsp Earl Grey moonlight tea
- 3 tbsp water
- 80g butter
- 280g caster sugar
- 240g plain flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- 200ml milk
- 2 eggs
For the frosting
- 250ml milk
- 250g icing sugar
- 80g butter
- Add the tea leaves to a bowl and pour over the water.
- Leave to steep for thirty minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 190C Gas Mark 5
- Cream together the butter and sugar until soft
- Sift the flour, baking power, salt into the butter mixture and rub together until it is like fine breadcrumbs
- Mix the eggs and milk in a bowl and mix
- Strain the tea water into the egg mixture to remove the tea leaves
- Pour the milk mixture into the flour mixture and stir into smooth
- Add to cupcake cases and bake for twenty minutes until springy
- Get the strainer full of tea leaves and sit it in a bowl with the milk to infuse the flavour
- Mix together the butter and icing sugar until soft
- Add the milk and mix till fluffy
- Add a little icing to the top of each cupcake
Do you have any favourite recipes you like to make with tea? Let me know below.