Summer has definitely arrived in San Jose, with the highest June temps we’ve seen in years! Definitely time for lots of iced tea, and happily, someone has designated the month of June to be Iced Tea Month. While cold tea, served with or without ice in the glass, has been a familiar drink in the United States since the middle of the 1800s, especially in the warm Southern states, “iced” tea is generally agreed to have been “invented” – at least formally introduced – to Americans at the 1906 World’s Fair in St. Louis, Missouri. Iced tea became a sensation and has remained a popular warm-weather beverage ever since then. Iced tea is easy to make at home, with a glass jar or decanter and some cold water in the fridge, but when you’re out and about, sometimes it can be difficult to find a good iced tea. Various dine-in and fast-food restaurants serve iced tea, and most coffee shops in the San Jose area do, as well.
Peet’s Coffee & Tea on Santa Clara St. usually has a few cold tea-based drinks on the menu, but if you want your basic iced black tea, their Summer House Tea is a good choice. It is a blend of black teas specifically created for making iced tea, and it is only served iced in-store. You can also buy it as a loose-leaf tea in tins, or in tea bags, for about $7 per tin or box of tea bags. The company website describes the blend this way: “Iced tea is an altogether different drink from its steaming counterpart, calling for a smoother, more refreshing flavor. Summer House contains three teas from China and India for a blend that’s at once slightly sweet, toasty and mildly brisk.”
I tasted the Summer House Tea for the first time a few years ago. I would not consider it a smooth-flavored tea, and I didn’t taste any sweetness or toastyness. The description suggests that the blend is a mix of Assam (for the toastyness), with some other Chinese teas. There must be some Darjeeling in the blend because there was a good amount of astringency (“briskness”) in the flavor, as well as a citrusy tartness. The tea is served unsweetened, and although I usually don’t add sugar or honey to my tea – hot or cold – I would add a small amount of honey to this iced tea. It would also be tasty with a slice of fresh Meyer lemon.
Stay hydrated this summer with lots of iced tea! You can even change it up by adding fruit juice and sparkling water to make ice-cold spritzers.
Copyright 2013, Elizabeth Urbach.
For more information:
Peet’s Coffee & Tea
Peet’s Summer House Iced Tea product page
“The Perfect Cup: Tasting Tea”
“Tea Tasting Terms”
“Tea tasting 101: characteristics of a good-quality black tea”
“Chinese black tea in San Jose”
“Iced tea and how to make it”
“Iced tea punches and mocktails: variations on a theme.”
“Sweet tea: the ‘Elixir of the South’”
“Review: Amandine Decanter by Teavana”
“Cool off with tea ice cream”
“Review: Twinings Irish Breakfast Tea”
“Review of Haagen-Dazs Green Tea ice cream”
“Review of Tazo Organic Spiced Black Tea Latte concentrate”
“Review of Oregon Chai Original Chai Tea Latte concentrate”
“Use tea in refreshing fruit spritzers this summer”