I wrote a while ago that I expected to see a rise in microbrew iced tea, I wanted to expand on that a bit because I really believe we’re going to start seeing more quality iced teas in our lives. We’re going to see this become mainstream before quality loose leaf tea because although Americans are taking well to culinary adventure (more of my friends are ‘foodies’ now than ever before) we’re still not doing well in the slowdown and make a cup of tea department. We like unique and interesting flavors, but many of us still haven’t taken the plunge into slowing down and appreciating things like quality tea.
I think we’ll get there. I think the coffee generation is slowly shifting, and I think things like unique iced tea, lemonade, and even kombucha are a step in the right direction. The flavors can come first, the ritual second. I’m not even comparing iced tea and hot tea, I think both are great and iced tea being easier for beginners to pick up could be a tasty gateway beverage. Though I hold on to hope, I don’t think we’ll be seeing high-quality loose leaf tea offered at most restaurants anytime soon. I do however think we could start seeing quality iced tea become more popular and be treated on the same level as beer or wine. Imagine sitting down for a meal and being offered iced tea/cold brew flights and pairings. Iced tea flights could give folks a general flavor profile of teas and herbs, making them genuinely more interested in tea and more comfortable to explore high-quality hot tea.
I’ve also found that when exploring for unique cold beverage recipes, it’s much more common to find unique lemonade recipes than tea recipes. This is interesting to me because tea is so much more diverse, yet folks restrict themselves to iced tea made with store-brand black tea bags. While searching, the most interesting recipe I could find for iced tea was this Sparkling Jasmine Iced Tea. It sounds great, but while searching for lemonades I found Watermelon Fennel Lemonade, Spiced Lemonade (made with dijon mustard) and tons more.
Tea blends also make great iced teas, and I’ll be doing tasting notes for Handmade Tea blends both as hot and cold drinks. Let me know in the comments if you have any great recipes, or know of any restaurants doing anything interesting with tea!