June is teatime, sometimes with a kick

I love tea. Not that frou-frou flower petal sort of tea, but real, honest, potent tea.

I drink tea year-round -- a mug or two in the morning instead of coffee (for which I never developed a taste) and several glasses of iced tea during the remainder of the day. I even like the rapper/actor Ice T on "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," despite the fact he misspells "iced."

Now, The Tea Council of the U.S.A. has decreed June "National Iced Tea Month," which is OK with me. I long-ago declared the other 11 months the same.

For those who like to avoid the powder-based iced tea too often encountered at restaurants too lazy to make real tea, The Tea Council suggests using this method:

• For small quantities, bring fresh cold tap water to a full, rolling boil. Use 50% more tea than if you were preparing hot tea to allow for dilution by ice. For example, use 1½ teaspoonfuls of loose tea or 1½ tea bags per 5-to-8-ounce cup of water. Pour the boiling water over the tea. Brew 3-5 minutes. If you prefer your tea less strong, add more water after brewing. Pour over ice.

• For large quantities, prepare a concentrate as follows: Bring one quart of cold water to a rolling boil. Remove from heat and add 8-10 tea bags per quart of brewed tea desired. Steep 3-5 minutes and add ice cubes. To serve, pour into tall glasses filled with ice, garnish and sweeten as desired. For extra flavor add your favorite fruit, such as lemons, limes or even strawberries or peaches.

However, some of us also like our tea with a bit of a kick. A number of distillers have created tea-infused spirits, such as Absolut Wild Tea Vodka, UV Sweet Green Tea Vodka, Southern Comfort Sweet Tea Cocktail (a ready-to-drink beverage), Burnett's Sweet Tea Vodka, Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka and others.

Another alternative is to whip up a cocktail I created a number of years ago and have shared several times in print and online. Here it is once again:


2 oz. Arizona Green Tea w/honey and ginseng
2 oz. all-grain vodka (Blue Ice, Beldevere, etc.)
4 drops Angostura Bitters
Splash of Galliano or Strega
2 orange slices
1 mint leaf

In a metal cocktail shaker, combine tea and vodka. Add bitters and splash of Galliano liqueur, or the more herbal Strega if you prefer, plus a handful of ice cubes. Stir briskly, then strain quickly into a frosted martini glass. Twist the juice from an orange slice into the drink and let it meander through the solution on its own. Garnish with an orange slice and a mint leaf for color.

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