“I say let the world go to hell, but I should always have my tea.”
– from ‘Notes from Underground’, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Brisbane summers are not for the feint of heart. By August spring is on the wind, and well before the new year summer has made herself good and comfortable. The air is heavy with moisture and summer dreaming. The sun is bright and hot up in an electric blue sky. Heat waves on top of the regular sub-tropical weather bring regular programming to a stop; all energy is spent on staying still and keeping core body temperature from boiling over.
Despite all the bitchin’ about the heat, I find myself loving these long languid days. I’ve never been able to shake the feeling of freedom that comes with summer. The way we learned it as kids, when summer meant weeks of no school and bare feet, icy poles and public pools, late nights and wild days. It isn’t quite the same nowadays that we’re all grown up, but there are few things as satisfying for a restless soul than the feel of the hot dark breeze against bare skin late at night.
In amongst all the heat, I spend my time devising ways to stay cool. Mornings down at the pool in the clear blue of the water. Afternoons in the air-conditioned confines of the library. Evenings on the deck to catch the faintest whiff of a summer breeze. We eat salads and fresh fruit, unable to bear turning on the stove on the hottest of hot days. Bottles full of icy water, guzzled straight from the bottle standing by the open fridge door.
The ritual of tea drinking has, for me, always been a restorative one. When I used to smoke, I would always roll my own cigarettes. The act of taking the paper out, pinching the tobacco, rolling and licking and lighting up was a daily ritual that drew my busy mind into my hands. When I was living in a dilapidated old share house during my uni years the breaks taken from essay writing to roll and smoke a cigarette on the narrow green bench by the back door were as important to the study as the rest of the process. A moment of stillness. These days, drinking tea takes the ritual place. The brewing of the tea, straining of the leaves, taking of the first sip. I wait until the kids are sleeping then take my tea out to the front verandah where I can sit with my feet up and watch the wind dance along the leaves of the bright green poinciana tree.
Unwilling to relinquish my tea-drinking ritual despite the heat, I’ve taken to making Iced Tea instead. These cold brewed iced teas are a totally different beast to the sickly sweet fruity stuff they sell in plastic bottles from corner stores. Cold brewing the tea overnight draws out the flavours of the tea without the bitterness of the tannins. In place of sweet fruit flavourings, I opt for the peppery hint of basil, the subtle perfume of rose. If you do prefer it a little sweeter, go ahead and serve with a drizzle of honey. Either way, these two cold brewed Iced Teas – Oolong & Rose, and Green Tea with Lime & Basil – are both beautifully refreshing.
Iced Green Tea with Lime & Basil
3 tsps green tea
Small handful basil
1 litre filtered water
Thinly slice the lime and gently bruise the basil.
In a tall jug or container combine the green tea, lime slices, basil leaves and water. Leave to steep in the fridge for 8 – 12 hours (depending on how strong you like it).
Strain, and serve.
Iced Oolong & Rose Tea
3 tsps oolong tea
3 tsps rose petals
1 litre filtered water
In a tall jug or container combine the oolong tea, the rose petals, and water. Leave to steep in the fridge for 8 – 12 hours (depending on how strong you like it).
Strain, and serve.
lovely pics ❤
Love the sound of these teas Sarah. I’ve been making something similar (sun tea, rather than the cold brew) but the end result is probably similar – mellow, delicate flavours. As for Brisbane summer, I’m still in bitching mode myself, must need a few more years to get used to it all!
Don’t get me wrong, I still do plenty of bitching about the heat! But when I’m writing my blog post on a breezy Sunday night, it’s easy to feel a little more diplomatic about it all 🙂
I appreciate hearing about people’s tea rituals since I never got into one myself. But I have started sun-brewing in the summer. This oolong and rose combo sounds delicious.