It's been a while but it's time for another installment of Friday Favorites: Herbal Iced Tea edition. I've been mixing up herbal iced teas easily since I was in high school, long before manufacturers starting putting together blends for that purpose. I used to blend them with fruit juice or add seltzer to them. But in truth, any tea can become iced; it's just a matter of knowing what kind of leaves you are working with and what kind of steep is going to serve it best. I've chosen fairly robust blends here that take well to icing. These are the ones I've been enjoying most frequently this summer.
Fieldstone Coffee Roasters in Milford, New Jersey, is a vendor at the Easton Farmers' Market and this past winter they started adding a wide array of teas to their repertoire. I like several of their blends iced, but my most favorite has what amounts to a funny name: Bingo Blueberry. We'll forgive them for it, because the taste supercedes the silliness. With dried blueberry, hibiscus and elderberry, it's the most fragrant blueberry tea I've encountered and puts the mass-produced brands to shame. When I first opened the bag, I could smell the tea halfway across the house. If you want to try it, they have an e-commerce site, so you can order directly from them. I like this hot, but I honestly think it's made to be iced. A little honey works well, but I also like a squirt of lime.
Divinitea, the supplier for my local coffee shop, Cosmic Cup, makes some lovely blends. They're based in Schenectady, New York. Many of their tisanes and rooibos teas take well to icing, but my most favorite happens to be the Coconut Gingersnap Rooibos. Red teas are typically well-suited toward serving cold, but this one is off the hook, with organic rooibos, green rooibos, honeybush, cinnamon, ginger root and coconut pieces. The baristas have been turning it into an iced tea latte with the introduction of almond milk—the perfect nutty compliment to this tropical, gingery tea. Sometimes they'll even add a smidge of vanilla extract but this one tea that is just about perfect as it is; 99 percent of the time, I don't even put a dab of honey in it. I'm going to be a little sad when fall is here and I won't feel like drinking this as much. To me, it's the taste of summer. You can order directly from Divinitea but don't worry if you can't find it on the company's website; I was told they have so many teas, they don't put them all up there. Just call and ask for it.
Hammock Blend Black Tea, from Plum Deluxe in Portland, Oregon, is informally referred to by its founder Andy Hayes as "orange creamsicle tea." And it's easy to see why. With organic black tea, orange peels and natural creme flavor, it's prime summertime sipping. I first encountered Plum Deluxe through a friend-of-a-friend and received some samples that were stellar, including a decaf chai that didn't taste like dirt; sounds crazy but you would be surprised how many vendors fail at a decaf chai. The company offers a monthly subscription box is $10/month for 1-2 ounces of tea, which equals about 20 cups of its organic, fair-trade, non-GMO hand-blended tea. Whew! That's a lot of hyphenated adjectives there. Add a squirt of honey to round out the tannins.