Even if summer isn't quite ready for me.
In summer, I'm always fighting dehydration. Water is essential, of course, but really, a girl can only drink so much water without wanting something flavourful, not to mention wanting to be able to move about without sloshing sensations.
Sugar, however is the issue. I like real sugar. I approve of sugar, especially where the alternatives and fake sugars are concerned. I do not, however, need large quantities of it. For some reason, most summery drinks are filled to the brim with sugar, far in excess of the quantities I find desirable, or worse still, "sugar-free" sugar substitutes which may or may not lead to health problems unto themselves, while still tasting uncomfortably sweet. Juices, lemonades, iced teas, and "virgin cocktails" are all quite sweet...usually, too sweet.
In parts of the United States, one can blessedly get iced tea that has not been pre-sweetened. That does not appear to be the case in most places in Vancouver. I can, however, make my own so that at least when I return home, hot and exhausted from tripping around farmers' markets and beaches, I can drink something delicious that doesn't feel like it's going to kill me in one way or another.
Despite my crankiness above, I do like a little hint of sweetness in my iced tea. A little simple syrup, or even a couple of teaspoons dissolved in a half-cup of hot water and then added to the steeped tea as it cools does the trick nicely, and doesn't leave me feeling like I've just mainlined a candy bar. I can get it just to my taste, and just to my comfort level.
I have a couple of favourite iced tea recipes that are both easy to make and delicious, and a little unexpected. Make the tea as strong or as weak as you generally like it hot. If you like adding ice to your drinks, but don't want to dilute the flavours, make a batch of iced tea just to freeze into ice cube trays and use them in place of ordinary ice cubes.
1 litre freshly brewed black tea, cooled
2 tablespoons simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water, boiled for one minute on the stove, then cooled)
1 teaspoon rosewater
Juice of half a lemon
Chill thoroughly. Serve in a tall glass, with a mint sprig
Lavender Iced Tea
1 litre freshly brewed lavender-scented black tea, cooled
2 tablespoons simple syrup
2 drops 100% pure lavender essential oil
Chill thoroughly. Shake well before serving.
I wouldn't keep either of these for longer than a few days in the fridge, due to the botanicals added, but that's not usually a problem, for me. I drink these up pretty quickly.
Basically, any tea, whether black, green, or herbal, can be made into a delicious iced tea. It just takes a little preparation to have some on hand, and a jug to keep it in.