21 July 2010

Bancha on Ice

Recently, on a particularly hot afternoon, I walked to our local tea shop to buy more of my favorite green tea, Bancha Hojicha. You can visit the shop's blog here and see their tea-of-the-day suggestions in both French and English.

When I walked in the door I was greeted with a genuine smile, a warm "Bonjour" and a complimentary glass of a cold and fruity ice tea brewed with a tantalizing blend of citrus and red summer fruits.

I was sipping slowly and browsing the shelves of tea samples when the question struck: would it be possible to make green ice tea? (I only began drinking hot tea - mostly green - about a year ago, so I'm still a bit of a novice.)

I took the glass bottle of Bancha Hojicha to the counter and naively asked my question.

"Of course", she said, "all you have to do is..."  And for the next several minutes I learned everything (almost) there is to know about making ice tea. She even handed me a leaflet with the instructions printed on one side in case I forgot.

To Make Green Ice Tea
Put about 15 grams of tea in 1 liter of room-temperature water (very important) and let it infuse for 20 to 30 minutes (45 - 60 minutes for black, red or blue tea).

Add citrus peel, spices, sugar or red fruits to suit your particular tastes. Pop it in the fridge and - here's the important point - drink it within 48 hours.

I thanked the tea lady and quickly took my Bancha home with me, eager to concoct my first green ice tea. By early evening it was ready. I took one sip and immediately fell under the spell of the subtle, roasted flavor, lightly perfumed with a sweet woody aroma that made it go down smoothly. Almost too smoothly. Because the next morning I finished off the liter before leaving for work.

As you might know, green tea has been used in China medicinally for about 4,000 years. Green tea contains a powerful anti-oxidant that some people claim can help with conditions such as cancer, arthritis, cardiovascular disease and cholesterol.

Maybe. I drink it because I like the taste. Hot or cold.

As for drinking it within 48 hours - not a problem. The only difficulty now is finding a good hiding spot in the fridge so my wife doesn't find it and drink it before I do.

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