Making a Splash: Up Your Iced Tea Game

The weather is still warm, at least where I am, and there’s no better time than to up your iced tea game. I’ll be talking about how I prepare iced tea (and iced tisanes), and then how you can amplify the flavour by adding some simple ingredients to make it even better than it was before.

For me, iced tea/tisanes start quite simply. I scoop the dry leaf into the infuser portion of my pitcher (I use the Perfect Pitcher from DavidsTea) and I use basically about one-and-a-half times more dry leaf for iced tea than I would if I was making it as a hot tea. So if you normally use 1 teaspoon of dry leaf for a cup, use 1 and ½ teaspoon. It’s not an exact measurement, but it does make it a little bit stronger flavour wise before you start adding ice or other ingredients to it.

When making the tea base, this is the best time to add the sweetener. If you are cold steeping (or cold brewing), you can’t use regular sugar. Sugar will not dissolve in cold water – but other sweetener options do. Agave syrup and honey both do pretty well when dissolved into cold water. If you’re using heated water, sugar will dissolve. Basically, you’ll need to turn your sugar into a simple syrup at minimum if you want to use it in cold water.

Basic Simple Syrup: Heat equal parts granulated sugar and water in a sauce pan until it’s fully dissolved and simmers. You don’t want your simple syrup to boil or burn.

I tend to put a bit of ice into each cup, and fill it with the iced tea/tisane until it’s about ⅔ full. There’s a lot of things that you can top your iced tea with. You’ll need your favourite matcha (blended or traditional; I opted for a straight/traditional matcha), a lemon (or lemon juice from a bottle), and some sparkling water or pop (soda).

And here are the beautiful drinks – and each of them just add a little something to the glass of iced tea and really changing the flavour profile by making it a little bit more interesting.

First we’ve got iced tea with lemonade. I’ve used lemonade before in drinks such as the Arnold Palmer and Matcha Lemonade. In the middle, I added a ‘shot’ of matcha into my iced tea – a matcha shot is a small amount of matcha whisked up. It really adds that vibrant matcha flavour that I enjoy, and in turn the iced tea adds a nice level of sweetness to the matcha. At the end, I’ve got a lovely layered drink! This iced tea was topped off with unsweetened sparkling water. You can also do this with soda water or seltzer, but if it has sugar, it may not layer as nicely.

Fun Fact! The more sweet a liquid is, the more it’ll sink. So when trying to layer a drink, put the sweetest liquid in the glass first to help maintain some well-defined layers.

Have you tried any of these methods of upping your iced tea game before? Let me know in the comments below or tag me (@onemoresteep) in your iced tea photos on Instagram.

Afternoon Tea vs High Tea

Did you know that afternoon tea and high tea are not the same thing?

Often used interchangeably today, the terms describe different meals. The one that is most often used for tea parties, baby & bridal showers, and hosted with all the fun cakes is afternoon tea.

Afternoon tea is a lighter meal, often served to the upper class and was at one point referred to as ‘low tea’ because of the lower table (think coffee table height). This meal consists of tea sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam, and sweets. Afternoon tea is, of course, served in the afternoon (approximately 3:30-5pm) as a way to tide you over between lunch and dinner.

Popularized by Anna Russell, Duchess of Bedford in the 1840s, she wanted the tea and cakes to fill her up until the very late supper time that was usually 7-8pm in the evening. Afternoon tea was also used as a social gathering, as it is today as well with the showers and parties. This is the one to dress up for with your dresses and fancy hats.

High tea is, you guessed it, served on a higher table and often a post-work meal for the working class. Because it’s a meal for people who often laboured away at work, the food served at high tea is often a lot heartier and heavier to provide the sustenance for those who’ve worked long hours  – think meat and potatoes. While still deliciously savoury, a high tea meal is not for those who are just looking to keep those hunger pains away until dinner.

Regardless of what you call it, the fancy tea parties in the afternoon are still a lot of fun! And as a lot of us are spending more time at home these days, it’s a fun away to bring your family together for a nice little sit-down meal and enjoy each others company.

There are a lot of recipes out there that could easily fill up your tiered cake stand and your delicate tea cups. Some fun recipes to round out your menu could include some Lemon & Cranberry Scones topped with Easy Chia Seed Jam, to be served next to your London Fog with Lavender Simple Syrup, of course.

Herbal Teas: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

Herbal teas (tisanes – if we want to be technical) have been beloved and steeped for a long, long time. From the calming chamomile before bedtime to ginger root to soothe an upset stomach, there are many fantastic and wonderful plants that can be steeped and enjoyed. Steeping and drinking an herbal tisane isn’t without its worries – especially if you are pregnant, take any medications, or have any health issues.

While many herbs are safe – if you can properly identify the plant – there are some ones that should be avoided, under certain conditions. A lot of people will argue that herbs are natural and therefore safe – but the plague are natural too, but nobody is lining up to lick a Petri dish colonized with it. There’s a bit of good with the bad, after all!

There’s no way that I can go through each and every single herbal ingredient there is – there’s just too many! So here are some of the highlights of ingredients that you may find in some of your favourite herbal tisanes:

Ginger root is one of those herbal ingredients that I love. It has a great warming sensation when you consume it (in either tisane or food), with some great spicy notes. Ginger root traditionally helps a lot with digestion and has anti-inflammatory properties. It can also interact with anticoagulants, some antibiotics, and cardiac medications.

The most popular one to avoid is St. John’s wort. While it’s considered a medicinal herb that may have some anti-depressant properties, St. John’s wort is also highly interactive with many medications that include, but not limited to, cancer medications, contraceptives, antivirals, and anticoagulants. There’s a very long list of medications that it can interact with, so really it’s just best to avoid St. John’s wort completely if you take any sort of medication.

Another digestion aid, hawthorn, is popular in traditional Chinese medicine and indigenous medicine (although, they do use different species of hawthorn). Hawthorn is actually an ingredient in a popular Chinese snack (haw flakes), but hawthorn consumption has been known to interact with digoxin (a cardiac medication), and can also cause hypotension (low blood pressure) and cardiac arrhythmia (where your heart is either beating too fast, too slow, or irregularly). It’s an ingredient I’d definitely have a chat with your health care professionals about, especially if you have any heart or blood pressure issues.

Valerian root is used as a sleeping aide – it is frequently an ingredient in sleepy time teas. But valerian should be avoided if you have any liver issues, or with alcohol and some prescription medications (best check with your friendly neighbourhood pharmacist!).

For those who love licorice root, you know that it’s found in a variety of candies – and can be delicious, I personally don’t think that licorice root tastes like the candy at all. Licorice is one to avoid in pregnancy, and it can actually cause hypertension (high blood pressure) as well as hypokalemia (low potassium) and edema (water retention). Which, if you’ve ever been pregnant, you already know you’re going to have some water retention, so why would you want to exacerbate it?

When in doubt about an herbal ingredient in your tisanes, I would recommend following up with your physician or pharmacist – especially if you are pregnant, taking any medications (prescription or otherwise), taking supplements, or have any health concerns.