My Summer Love

The dog days of summer are in full swing. Now I love hot summer days. Give me the heat over winter’s cold any day. I suppose it’s a good thing I live in the South. But this year it seems like the heat is more oppressive than normal. Almost unbearably so. And after a long, hard, hot day’s work, it sure is nice to come home to central air and a cool shower. Most days I am dog-tired and utterly drained. Hey, do you suppose that’s where the phrase “dog days” comes from? Makes sense to me.

But I love summer. I really do. I feel sorry for those people who spend their summer mostly indoors. I know people who work inside jobs and they cannot fathom how I work in the heat every day. But when you’re used to it, it’s not so bad. Going from an air-conditioned building to the blazing heat of 5:00 – yeah, that’s rough. But if you’ve been outside since 7 AM, it’s no big deal. Sure it’s hot, but not in the same way. And it’s not dangerous if you stay hydrated and avoid prolonged periods in direct sun. Being as I work in construction, I generally stay in shade.

Of course, I’d rather be in a hammock in the shade. With an icy cool beverage in my hand. Like iced tea, my favorite part of summer. I am an avowed tea addict. I’ve consumed so many gallons of iced tea this summer, I bet I have tea flowing in my veins instead of blood. There a lot of things I love about summertime. Sandals. Tank tops. Swimming pools. Shorts. Flowers blooming. Strawberries. Ice cream. Sun tans. Thunderstorms. Cook-outs. The beach. But iced tea is definitely at the very top of that list. I have tons of iced tea recipes but my favorite is, not surprisingly, the simplest. Ten teabags steeped in 4 cups hot water for 10 minutes. Add 1 cup sugar, 10 cups cold water, ¼ cup orange juice concentrate, and ⅔ c. lemon or lime juice. Voila! Spectacular iced tea, the quintessential summer beverage.

In Defense of Hot Tea

hot teaThese past few days have been gray, dreary, and rainy. And there’s nothing better on a rainy day than hot tea, music, and a good book. Tea is amazing. No matter the mood, there are teas to match. Lady Grey or Earl Grey pairs best with rain and a book. English Breakfast and Chai are my usual morning choices, while evening requires a gentle herbal. Green tea with lemon and honey does wonders for a sore throat. And of course fruity iced tea is the official beverage of summer.

I take my hot tea in the “British” fashion, with cream and sugar. Strange, isn’t it? Iced tea is as true-blue American as it gets, but hot black tea (especially when served with cream and sugar) is considered almost exclusively British. Yet at one point in our history, tea was as common here as it is over the pond. I think we can blame the “un-Americanization” of hot tea on a single pivotal event: the Boston Tea Party. Why, oh why, did it have to be tea that they dumped in Boston harbor? Why couldn’t it have been beer? Or coffee? If it had been anything else, we might all still be drinking it with every meal. Maybe we’d even still have the custom of taking tea as a fourth meal. Now there’s a custom that merits reviving. Tea and a snack midafternoon? Oh yeah! About 2 or 3 o’clock when the day gets a little draggy, it’s the perfect pick-me-up. And it’s so customizable – hot tea in winter, iced tea in summer, and the snack part can be whatever you want. The rest of America may continue their coffee craze if they please; as for me, I will be a lifelong drinker of tea in all its forms.

P.S. To make the perfect cuppa hot tea, steep 1 teaspoon loose black tea or 1 teabag in 6 ounces of almost boiling water for 3-4 minutes. Stir in a small spoonful of turbinado sugar and a splash of cream or milk. Voila! British-style hot tea.