Monday, July 30, 2007

Apple Spiced Iced Tea from Shirley Hailstock

Here's my first guest blog, from my friend Shirley Hailstock, author of the upcoming January release, On My Terms!

I have a friend in D.C. that I’ve known since I graduated from college. She’s a neo-natal nurse at the Howard University Hospital. When she was in nursing school we met. I’d majored in chemistry in college and she was having trouble with chemistry. Our tutoring sessions made us life-long friends. She spent a lot of time in my apartment and used to say I made the best iced tea in the world. Of course, I thought she was being facetious since I had very little money and tea bags were the only drink I could afford to buy. Consequently, there was always tea in my refrigerator. I didn’t find out until long after I married, had children, and divorced that she actually meant it.

My son also says I make the best tea in the world. He’s unaware of the comments from my nurse-friend. But he should know. At twenty-three he’s seen a lot of the world and drank a lot of tea (his refreshment of choice). Right now he’s spending a semester abroad in Canberra, New South Wales, Australia. It’s on the southeastern section of the continent and while it’s sweltering here in July on the east coast of the United States, it’s winter where he is. For several days when he was about ten, he watched me make tea, asking questions about how much of this and how long to let it boil. Then one of his friends’ parents I ran across in the local grocery store mentioned the tea. Apparently, my son had gone to her house and made the tea for them. And they too thought it was good.

Tea has been a part of human life since the Stone Age. Yet people used to only drink it iced in the summer time. Tea has now become an anytime drink. I think my father personally championed this change, since we had iced tea year-round as I grew up in Buffalo, New York. My father was from South Carolina where tea is a staple. He didn’t teach me to make it however. I concocted my own experiments until I came up with something that had people turning their heads like on a television commercial and asking, “Who made this? It’s really good.” I will give a little credit to my father for one ingredient although the knowledge came to me indirectly through one of my younger sisters (I have five sisters and a brother. I’ve number two.). She told me about the baking soda.

Mind you, I didn’t start out to develop a tea recipe. It happened when the coffers were low and I didn’t want to go out in the cold or rain or dark or whatever the reason was at the time to buy the missing ingredients. So, like any girl scout has been trained (or people who loved watching McGyver build a shopping mall from sand and chewing gum), I went to Plan “B” and used what I had. And what I had were two regular tea bags and one herbal tea bag – apple spice tea. I used to use three regular tea bags and sugar.

Sun Tea was popular about ten years ago and I tried that, but quickly realized it was only a method of getting people to buy more tea bags and therefore making the tea companies more profits. Quickly, I dropped that idea. One reason was the inconvenience. Sun Tea had to sit in the sun for hours to brew. I’d have to get it ready and put it outside in the morning before leaving for work. With all I had to do to get three people up dressed, breakfast prepared and eaten, beds made, and lunches ready (with one kid who is not a morning person), who had time to think about Sun Tea? And when it was gone, you couldn’t make more on the spot. Plus my kids didn’t think it was as good and the kind you boiled on the stove. So following the path of least resistance, I went back to the tried and true.

In my first book, Whispers of Love, I loaned my heroine the recipe for the tea. She owned a restaurant and it was a favorite of her patrons. It was also the defining moment for the hero when he discovers she’s the same woman he’d known and loved in the past. I put the recipe in that book. And here it is for you. I hope you like it.

Apple Spiced Iced Tea

2 regular tea bags (a cheap brand, store brand is fine)
1 apple spice herbal tea bag
Sugar (to taste or optional)
Baking soda (as much as you can pinch between two fingers)
Cold water

Fill a small sauce pan half full of cold water. Add the three tea bags and bring to a boil. Boil for two minutes. Remove from stove and add a pinch of soda (The box keeping your refrigerator fresh is fine to use. The soda will make the tea bubble to the top of the pan, so be careful. It will also give the mixture a rich, dark color.) Fill a half-gallon size pitcher half full of cold water. Pour tea into a pitcher and stir. (Discard tea bags.) Add sugar to taste. Fill pitcher to top with more cold water. Serve over ice.

Note: Do not add lemon. The strength of the lemon juice will negate the apple spice influence.

Substitutions: You can substitute any herbal tea you desire and experiment with the flavor. I’ve used Orange Spice and Cinnamon Apple Spice with good results.

Shirley Hailstock

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