The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

On The Table

April 17, 2013

Cheryle Finley: Iced tea not just a summer beverage

JOPLIN, Mo. — As the weather warms up, we begin thinking less about soup and more about salad. But what about the beverages we drink?

I remember when we associated iced tea with only those hot summer months. Now it's a go-to drink just about any time for lots of folks, me included.

Working next door to McAlister's means I hear iced tea calling my name just about every day. There are lots of places that make great iced tea, and it's in demand year-round. What's not to like about a drink that boasts its own spoon?

Sweet tea has grown in popularity, causing owners of eating establishments to cater to that preference. I remember when sweet tea was not an option except at home. You ordered iced tea and sweetened it yourself. No longer. Alison at the Diamond Cafe says, that as someone moving to the area from New York, she quickly realized sweet tea was a requirement on their new Southwest Missouri menu. Finding a restaurant without sweet tea nowadays is rare.

How to make the best sweet tea? Dissolve sugar in warm, freshly brewed tea before diluting it with water. That's my favorite tea -- not too hot and not too cold. Adding flavorings to your iced tea? While lemon is the most requested, lime, mango, raspberry and other choices are very popular, too.

Sun tea, which is made the way the name implies, can result in a mellow flavor but can also pose some danger, because the temperature it reaches is not hot enough. Refrigerator tea is a safer method than sitting a glass jar in the yard all day. Simply place the water with tea bags in the fridge overnight.

Half-and-half can refer to two different versions of iced tea: One consists of half tea and half lemonade, which makes for a tea with a real bite. Tea made with half sweetened tea and half unsweetened tea has a sweet-tea flavor in a less sweet mixture.

Of course, the United States doesn't have the iced tea market cornered. According to Internet reports, iced tea is not the traditional way to serve tea in China -- hot tea is the norm. But the colder version has become more popular. Belgium and the Netherlands offer brand name Ice-Tea, which is a carbonated variety marketed by Lipton. Fizzy iced tea just sounds strange to me. Brazilians prefer lime flavoring to lemon, and visitors to local beaches can easily find a vendor offering this treat. If you order iced tea in Canada, it will come sweetened and flavored with lemon, no questions asked. Germans prefer lemon- and peach-flavored iced tea, and Portugal adds mango flavor to the mix. Hong Kong forgoes the sugar and sweetens its tea with simple syrup. Swiss residents will keep fresh-brewed tea at home, while most of the country's restaurants offer mass-produced bottles and cans.

In the United States, 85 percent of all tea consumed is iced. The oldest recipes date back to the 1870s, but iced tea didn't begin to gain serious popularity until it was introduced by Richard Blechynden at the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis. I, for one, am glad iced tea caught on and can be enjoyed in any weather.

Today's recipes are from The artichoke and egg spread is great as a dip or even a sandwich spread. It would be especially good on toasted bread. Reviewer's suggestion: Use more curry powder for a stronger flavor or a sprinkle of red pepper for a little bite.

The Bolognese sauce will yield 8 cups, which is enough for 16 small servings. Simmer uncovered then use what you need and freeze the rest for another time. Serve over rigatoni or penne pasta.

The bundt cake may take longer than the 35 minutes to prepare, as listed in the directions. Leave it plain or glaze it with some confectioners' sugar, milk and lemon juice. If using a real lemon, roll it around on the kitchen counter before juicing. Have a wonderful week and happy eating.


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