How do you like your tea? Strong and milky? Green? Flavoured? Or do you favour floral and herbal infusions over a proper brew? Since I don’t like milk and because the idea of mixing tea and milk feels like pollution to me, every British black tea tastes way too strong for me. I am partial to a lightly flavoured black tea, I have to admit. However, since the last time I went to the dentist’s for a routine check I have reduced my black tea intake. After examining my teeth for a while, she asked whether I smoked (no!) or drank a lot of coffee (no! Well, unless granita counts). It turns out that black tea stains your teeth just like the other two. Since then (because I am still, and forever will be, frightened of my dentist), I only occasionally go for black tea, preferring flavoured green teas and infusions for my daily hot drink needs.
Then, of course, there’s iced tea, for warm summer days that require a cold glass filled with something nice always within easy reach. Iced tea, which conjures up memories of dreadfully sweet packets of iced tea powder, either peach or lemon flavoured, for sale in Italian supermarkets and favoured by mums to quickly sort out mid 1990’s outdoor birthday parties drinks. And yet, they shouldn’t have bothered with the powder at all, when cold brewing tea is so easy. As for the taste, I’m only going to say one thing: I have never tasted the pure aroma of Earl Grey tea so distinctly and clearly. It even made me forget my dentist for a while. If you have good quality loose leaf tea lying in your cupboards, this is the drink that will take those leaves, pop them on a throne and stick a crown on their heads.
Pour the water in a big jug over the tea and citrus rind. Mix, cover with cling film and leave in the fridge to rest overnight. Strain with a fine sieve or muslin cloth. Discard the tea leaves and rind. Pour the honey in a glass or jar and warm in the microwave for 10 seconds or so – enough to liquefy it. Add rum (if using) and pour in the iced tea. Mix well, add lemon slices and ice and serve.