21 June 2015

Beat the Heat: Hungry Expat's Texas Tea

This is the first summer that has felt like summer to me since I moved abroad five years ago. Being from Texas I am used to ridiculously hot temperatures and moving about from one air-conditioned place to another. However, Kenya was extremely temperate and Nairobi never reached over 30°C (that’s 86°F for you North Americans) despite the common misconception that its proximity to the equator means the temperatures are sweltering and desert-like. In short, I got spoiled. This being my first summer in India, I quickly realized how much I did not miss the soaring temperatures and highs of 45°C (113°F) and have thus become hermit-like, holing up in my air-conditioned abode only to leave for basic necessities or after nightfall when temperatures drop to a mere 29°C (82°F).

In order to beat the heat, I’ve reverted to ice baths and summery drinks to stay cool. A summertime staple growing up at my house was iced tea. I could drink gallons of the stuff. However, I discovered early on that my mom’s version of iced tea was *very* different from your typical Southern-style iced tea. It was sugarless. I can hear the screams now. No sugar!?! That’s sacrilege!  My mom was a bit of a health nut in the ‘80s, before it was the thing to be; our Kool-Aid™ had about ¼ of the recommended sugar.

Pyrex: A kitchen necessity.
I personally like to make myself a vast amounts of tea at a time and then store it in the refrigerator in the Pyrex™ until it’s time to make a new batch. Now, Curry Delight does not understand why I *had to have* a glass Pyrex™ measuring cup in order to prepare the tea properly. Technically you can place the teabags in a large heatproof glass pitcher of any kind, I just prefer my trusty Pyrex™ measuring cup. You can easily measure the amount of water to tea ratio and it doubles as a pitcher. It’s also purchasable on Amazon India so I didn’t have to lug one back in my suitcase from my annual pilgrimage Stateside.

4 teabags of any good quality black tea (I use Taj Mahal)
1 medium lemon or 2-3 small limes
4 cups of simmering water
Ice, lots and lots of ice

Rather than boil water in the kettle to pour over the teabags, I add room temperature filtered water to my teabags, microwave for 6-7 minutes, and let it steep for another few minutes. You should then refrigerate until cool, but I’m far too impatient so I immediately add ice. If you don’t want to dilute your tea too much, I suggest investing in either A) plastic ice cubes or B) large ice ball trays.

Also good for wine!
A whiskey drinker's dream
Instead of squeezing the lemon/lime into the pitcher I prefer to add the juice to each individual glass of tea. And, if you’re feeling fancy, you can use a vegetable peeler to strip the peel from the lemon (avoid the white pith as much as possible) and add the peel to the pitcher.

For those of you who want a little more sweetness in your life, I suggest making a simple syrup concoction (2 parts granulated sugar to 1 part water). Bring the sugar and water to a boil in a saucepan and stir to combine. Reduce heat and simmer until the sugar is completely dissolved and the syrup thickens slightly (about 3 minutes). Let cool before using. 

And there you have it; the hungry expat’s quick and easy guide to making her official hot-weather drink of choice. Perfect for sipping in the garden or as a substitute for your hot morning chai.

What are your favorite drinks to cool down on hot summer days and nights?

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