I’m a big fan of the high quality Art of Tea iced teas. They offer great flavor, bags that are large enough to make a generous pitcher of tea and very clear instructions on how to ensure that the tea turns out perfectly. The Art of Tea Passionfruit Jasmine Iced Tea is a flavor that jumped out at me immediately, since I’m a fan of anything that includes passionfruit. This tea is a blend of black and green tea with jasmine flowers, not jasmine tea. The flowers give the tea a very delicate, sweet floral scent that blends well with the floral notes of passionfruit. It’s slightly sweet on its own, but the flavors pop even more when you add a little bit of sugar to the mix. Since the flavors are delicate, this is once iced tea that might lose its refreshing essence if you over-sweeten it. One package makes enough for four 2-quart pitchers of tea, which should be plenty to get you through two or three hot weekends this summer!
Iced tea is typically brewed simply by making double or triple strength iced tea and pouring it over ice to chill and dilute it. This isn’t a bad way of making iced tea, but I love it when tea companies make iced tea bags specifically for iced tea. It’s convenient not to have to worry about the ratio of tea to water – especially when you’re making a large batch – and they also usually produce flavors that are more iced tea-friendly than hot teas, using more fruits and fewer heavy spices. Art of Tea does a great job with their iced teas, packaging them in large, pitcher-friendly bags that are perfect for brewing up iced tea for a crowd. They also come with easy to follow instructions that ensure your tea will turn out perfectly every time.
The Art of Tea’s Hibiscus Cooler Iced Tea is one of my new favorite iced tea flavors. It’s made from hibiscus, guayusa, lemongrass, stevia leaves and natural flavors – all organic ingredients – and turns a fantastic pink hue when brewed. It tastes floral and fruity, almost like it has juice in it in addition to the other ingredients! As a fan of jamaica – a hibiscus agua fresca that you can find at most Mexican restaurants – I know that hibiscus has a slightly bitter note to it. It is subtle in the tea, but it adds some nice complexity to the tea and also gives you a little bit of room to add some sugar. I added about a third of a cup of sugar to my tea and found that added some nice sweetness without taking away from how refreshing the tea was on its own. The box contains four large tea bags, which is enough to make four 2-quart pitchers of iced tea. That’s enough to have two for summertime entertaining and two for yourself for later!
Trader Joe’s can be a great place to pick up some premium teas at a very reasonable price. Their tea selection, especially their seasonal offerings, always has a few innovative blends that are absolutely delicious. One of their newest teas is Trader Joe’s Coconut Green Tea, a light and refreshing tea for the summer. It is also a loose leaf tea, which is a departure from the usual bagged teas that the store carries. The tea is packed in a colorful metal tin to keep it fresh until you’re ready to brew it.
The tea has a green tea base, accented with coconut, lemongrass and ginger. Since the coconut graphic is so prominent on the container, I expected to get a strong coconut flavor from my first cup, but found that coconut blended nicely with the other flavors instead of dominating them. You get more coconut in the nose of the tea than in the body. The tea has a nice balance of green tea, citrus and spice. It’s mildly sweet and very well-blended, so no one element stands out over the rest- which isn’t a bad thing, as it makes for a subtle and very enjoyable cup of tea. I found that this tea was pleasant when brewed hot with no sweeteners, but its natural sweetness came out a bit more once sugar was added. It was also great when brewed at double or triple strength and served over ice.
Starbucks is rolling out their summer menu this week, and two delicious shaken ice tea lemonades are on the menu: Peach Green Tea Lemonade and Blackberry Mojito Tea Lemonade. The Peach Tea Lemonade debuted last summer, while the blackberry is new for this year. Thanks to a promo for registered Starbucks card holders, I was able to get my hands on both tea lemonades before they hit the main menu. The Blackberry Mojito Tea Lemonade is made with a blackberry syrup, which turns the drink an intense berry color. Unlike the Berry Hibiscus Refresher, which also uses blackberries, there are no chunks of berry floating around in this drink to plug up your straw as you sip.
The blackberry tea lemonade has a green tea base, which is a good way to showcase the berry flavors without overpowering them with a black tea base. It is not too sweet – in fact, I would say it is slightly less sweet than the peach tea lemonade – but has the distinct flavor of juicy berries to it, which makes it satisfying and refreshing. One thing that the drink does not have, however, is any hint of mint. I expected to be able to taste a bit of mint in a drink with “mojito” in the name, but berries definitely dominated. I’m not positive (yet), but this drink is made with Teavana tea and Tevana makes a Blackberry Mojito Tea that could very well serve as the base for this drink. Despite the fact that there really is no mint flavor, the drink is a great alternative to some of the other iced tea lemonades and is a fantastic drink for a summer afternoon.