While half the world must be craving hot drinks to ward off the bitter winter cold, here in the tropics, the weather is cool and mild, and iced tea is still a great after-lunch or mid-afternoon drink. So, after shaving the zest off three oranges a few days ago to make the orange and caraway seed cookies, I squeezed the oranges earlier today and made a pitcher of orange and ginger iced tea. Before I did, however, to sample how well the flavors went together, I made a cup of hot tea using the same infusions for the iced tea. Ergo, a hot and cold version for the orange and ginger tea.
Why orange and ginger? Well, why not? Truth is, I find commercial iced tea irritatingly sweet. And it bugs me that I can’t taste the tea anymore. We haven’t bought iced tea powder in years. I like my iced tea to be a blend of subtle flavors. Fruity but not too sweet. Spicy but not overwhelmingly so. And the flavor and aroma of the tea must be pronounced but in such a way that it doesn’t inundate the taste buds. To make orange and ginger iced tea, you will need two infusions. First, slice some ginger and simmer in about three cups of water for about 20 minutes with strips of orange zest. Cool, strain, and chill.
Meanwhile, make a pot of tea, preferably using loose tea leaves. I recommend oolong (black) tea because green tea is too subtle and its flavors will be lost once mixed with ginger and orange. I also recommend that you add mint leaves to your tea. Steep, strain, cool, and chill.
Squeeze the juice from two to three oranges. Pour into a pitcher along with the cooled ginger brew and tea. Add ice cubes, enough honey to taste, and serve. If you’re wondering why my orange and ginger iced tea was not strained, well, it’s to show you what’s in it. Normally, I would although I’d retain the orange slices and mint leaves. Shapes and colors add so much visual delight to an otherwise plain-looking drink.
For the hot orange and ginger tea, you won’t be needing the orange juice, only the ginger brew and a pot of tea. Slice some ginger and simmer in about three cups of water for about 20 minutes with strips of orange zest. About five minutes before the 20 minutes are up, make a pot of tea with orange slices and mint leaves. The two infusions will be ready at about the same time so you can enjoy your drink hot. Just mix them in a teapot, add honey optionally, stir, and pour.