Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Celebrate Iced Tea Month with some twists on the traditional

Memorial Day cook-outs are nothing new and traditions are great to hold on to, but there's something to be said for a changing of the guards to literally mix things up and that includes some new ideas for iced tea. A change-up to the familiar drink of summer is even more relevant now that it's officially Iced Tea Month according to every tea blogger's calendar and the Food Network's website.

In January of this year, we noted it was "Hot Tea Month", and a real comfort since it was very "iced" outside in Michigan. Now, however, with temperatures over 90 degrees this holiday weekend in metro Detroit, I can tell you, iced tea was a welcome relief. Even better, we didn't have to depend on the old school black tea and white sugar - not with "Summer Cook-out: the Next Generation". This year, we got a twist on the old with the twenty-somethings taking charge.

Awhile back, when my oldest son was still in college and living in an old, but somewhat charming, house near campus, he and his girlfriend (now wife), hosted their first Memorial Day get-together for family and friends. Drawing on the staples of summer holiday parties, they grilled burgers, supplied drinks and brought out the games, but with their fresh new spin, everything seemed a little extraordinary. That little something special continues every summer, right down to this year's refreshing new iced-tea dressed in party red.

Right on the cusp of Iced Tea Month, my daughter-in-law served an unconventional iced tea mix of white and herbal teas from Teavana. Their Youthberry White and Wild Orange Blossom Herbal combine citrus, berry and rose petals to make a deliciously tart and sweet drink on the rocks. We found it didn't need any additional sugar, but for those who like a sweeter drink, Teavana suggests trying rock sugar which, according to the national tea retailer, will "enhance the natural sweetness of the drink. . . and easily dissolve in the hot water".

So, we recommend shaking things up a bit in the iced tea jug and experimenting with different teas and flavors. This year, think outside the black tea box and make some new traditions this summer. Just don't mess with the plentiful table of delicious snacks or bocce ball rules - some things need never change.

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