Thursday, 10 May 2012

Iced tea (Παγωμένο τσάι)

Tea is not as popular as coffee in Greece. Folks here prefer frappe and, lately, the gourmet coffee in large inelegant plastic tub-like cups with a lid that looks like a spaceship with a huge hole in the middle for the straw. So άγαρμπο (and very τράτζικ - coffee tastes so terrible when served in a flimsy cup). Although I like to drink tea in the winter, I've never really been one to make iced tea for the summer.

My friend's kitchen cupboards contain more tea varieties than I've ever seen anywhere else, along with all the equipment and accessories needed to make and drink tea.

Green tea, lemon slices and mint leaves
I drank a lot of hot herbal tea at my Dutch friend's home. Holland was quite cold throughout my stay, which makes it easier to appreciate a hot liquid in the evening after coming back home from a sightseeing trip. When we came back to Crete, the weather was hot (too hot for the season really). I remembered the aromatic teas my friend served us, but I couldn't fathom the idea of drinking hot tea in such hot weather. So I iced it instead.

Lemon-scented herbal teas work best for iced tea. They remind me of lemonade without the sugar. Verbena (Lipia citriodora) is commonly grown as a potted plant all over Greece for its highly aromatic scent. When dried, it can be used as a tea. In Greek, it's known as louizα (λουίζα). A friend of mine who grows it in her garden gave me a few sprigs to dry. Till the branches are ready, I'm using some dried verbena that my Dutch friend presented to me as a gift.

Iced tea in a clear bottle looks like wine; my children think I'm drinking retsina. Little wonder - I keep my iced tea in an old Mostra wine bottle.

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