'Tis Iced Tea Season -- Here's the Best and Prettiest

‘Tis Iced Tea Season — Here’s the Best and Prettiest

It is always iced tea season at my house. After noon and sometimes before, there is a glass within reach. My mother was the same way. Genetic research supports this, particularly in the South. But have you been to Paris lately? Iced tea has become popular there as well. (I […]

It is always iced tea season at my house. After noon and sometimes before, there is a glass within reach. My mother was the same way. Genetic research supports this, particularly in the South. But have you been to Paris lately? Iced tea has become popular there as well. (I swear those French, always copying us…)

Kusmi Tea in canisters
Kusmi Tea in canisters, each one pretty as the next.

For others, summer heralds true iced tea season.

There are few things in which I claim to be connoisseur, but the best tea, in my humble opinion, is Kusmi. It definitely has the prettiest packaging, though that does not upstage its variety and taste.

Kusmi Tea
Kusmi Tea in tins

Chef Stephanie Valentine, who is a connoisseur and up on everything, introduced Kusmi’s Prince Vladimir tea to me a couple of years ago and it was a revelation. Wonderful hot or iced, it is “a Russian blend of China teas with scents of bergamot, lemon, grapefruit, vanilla and spices,” says the box. I may put a drop of sweetener or lemonade, but it is delish on its own. I may build a shrine to it.

Kusmi Tea
My current favorites. Prince Vladimir, top right; Boost; Euphoria for breakfast; and Petroushka, because I like the purple box.

My other current iced fave is Boost, which is a blend of mate, green tea, cinnamon bark, ginger and cardamom. Needs nothing, brilliant unto itself. Gives you a boost, dare I say.

Kusmi Tea came to Paris in the early 20th century by way of St. Petersburg, in the nick of time before all hell broke loose with the Bolsheviks. The doomed royal family had drunk Kusmi tea (but that is not what got them in trouble). Read the story of Kusmi Tea here.

Kusmi Tea canisters on shelves
Kusmi Tea canisters on shelves

A couple of summers ago I was in Paris with my niece Ruth strolling through the Marais, and we came upon a Kusmi store on rue des Rosiers. Quel beau magasin! Not long after I was hurtling up Third Avenue (one strolls through the Marais but hurtles up Third Avenue as best I can tell), and there was a Kusmi shop. Quelle joie!

Kusmi Shop on Third Ave and 61st Street
Kusmi Shop on 1037 Third Avenue, between 61st and 62nd streets
Free samples outside Kusmi shop
Free samples outside the Kusmi shop

The varieties – 67 in all – are dizzying, but the lovely young Sarah who was there the first day I visited was knowledgeable and helpful – refreshing as the tea itself.

Kusmi Tea
Open tins for sampling. The smells are sublime.
Kusmi Tea
Also sold in dainty muslin bags, with pretty little saucers to choose from.
Kusmi Tea
The wellness teas are popular, and people swear by the Detox. It tastes healthy anyway. Might be better not to tox in the first place, just sayin'. If only I followed my own advice...

If you don’t live in the Marais or Manhattan, where they sell it at Bloomingdale’s and Zabar’s as well as at 1037 Third, Kusmi is a little hard to find. Hark, you can order it online, and what do you know, Kusmi.com is having a special this weekend and giving away a tote bag. Just in time for summer. …And this just in from Tim on Third Ave: a new Kusmi shop is opening downstairs at the Plaza Hotel…today! What a scoop!

If you’re looking for color-scheme inspiration for a room, an outfit, a project… have a look. Have to hand it to the French when it comes to packaging and display, n’est-ce pas?

Kusmi,
The color combinations are as good as the teas.
Kusmi, turquoise in middle
The yellows/navy and camel/navy are interesting, as is my beloved Prince Vladimir's striking turquoise, red and gold.
Kusmi, softer shades
The softer shades are just as attractive; unusual, too.

Lest I get carried away…

If you need a primer on making iced tea, here are three methods from Babble.com.

Oh, and contrary to popular belief, I need to tell you that not all Southerners drink, or want to be anywhere near, that cloying “sweet tea.” Hope that didn’t burst your bubble.

(As ever, this is not a paid endorsement and I have no relationship with the Kusmi Tea company, apart from being buds with Sarah and Tim in the Third Avenue shop, and they are not the kick-back-taking types.)

Wellness tea photo courtesy Kusmi.com. All others by Frances Schultz for FrancesSchultz.com

Kusmi Tea shopping bag
Even the shopping bags are pretty

19 Comments

  1. What a scoop on the Grand opening! My Southern mother never allowed cokes in the house-only tea. My husband is a tea-nut, so this info will be passed on to him pronto.
    Thanks for all the tea selections–headed to the website now!

    xo, Lissy

    • Thanks, Lissy, enjoy!… Also Tim today told me he really liked the “St Petersburg” with China teas, bergamot, red fruits and caramel, so I’ll be giving that a try in the morning.

  2. Leslie in Little Rock

    Thank You Frances!!! I needed some”iced tea inspiration”! I will give her a try! i’m also a sucker for a pretty cover.

    • You might be the first on the block in Little Rock, Miss Leslie. And fyi, I am known to economize using a bag or two of Lipton’s combined with the fancy stuff. 😉

  3. Mary Foy Ragsdale

    Fresh mint iced tea is a favorite of mine…great recipe for it in the Junior League of Atlanta’s cookbook, Atlanta Cooknotes!

    • Yum yes. Freah Mint tea is the best. Wish you would send that recipe, Mary Foy; it might be the ONE cookbook I dont have!

  4. paige ward

    So pretty! Deviled eggs, iced tea; waiting for your spin on pimento cheese. These three in the house let me know it’s summer time & the livin’ is easy. Oh heck I forgot…. you gotta’ do poundcake too!

    • Yes ma’am. I may even work on a gluten-free pound cake. I’m into that these days but it is boring to talk about–and still early for me… Thank you Miss Paige!

  5. Mary Foy Ragsdale

    Frances, here is the mint tea recipe…

    4 Cups Boiling Water, Divided
    6 Sprigs of Mint
    3 Tablespoons Loose Tea or 3 Tea Bags (I use family-size tea bags.)
    6-9 Tablespoons Fresh Lemon Juice
    1 Cup Sugar (I use Splenda.)
    4 Cups Cold Water

    In separate bowls, pour two cups boiling water over mint sprigs and tea, and two cups over lemon juice and sugar. Let stand 15 minutes. Strain and combine. Add four cups cold water. Chill. (Can be refrigerated several weeks!)

  6. Wynn Henderson

    I’ll be glad to help test gluten-free pound cake recipes!!

  7. Ummmm, I like cloyingly sweet tea? Bring on the sugar! And it is just not the same if I have to add it afterwards …

    • Traci, I knew that sweet tea remark was going to be controversial, a veritable lightening rod of conflict, a can of worms… I just hope we can all get past it…. ‘Til then, you drink your tea however you like it because it is a free country. 😉 Love, Frances

  8. Hello Frances, these are too tempting to resist. Gorgeous and delicious. Can’t wait for my order to arrive. It’s going to be a long hot summer here in Texas. Love your blog!

  9. I was born in Cuba, raised in LaLaLand (Hollywood, CA) and transplanted to So.Fla. in the 70s, that being said, I have had a soft spot for Southern food and hospitality ever since my parents took me on a trip through the Carolinas one lovely far-away summer. In our home, summer staples were deviled eggs, pound cake (with fresh fruit and plain), slices of watermelon, barbecues and most definitely sweet tea! Love the packaging on the Kusmi tea, going online to order some. Love, love, LOVE this blog!

    • Well EB nice to hear from you again, and it sounds like your house was a good place to grow up. Have you been back to Cuba? I was there last November and actually blogged about it. Don’t know if you were reading then, but here they are: http://www.francesschultz.com/?s=cuba. And thanks so much for your kind words; you honor me.

  10. Hester Hodde

    Having a good iced tea recipe is like having good house wine. I guess that’s why sweet tea is called “the house wine of the South”. A big favorite tea recipe in these parts comes from the cookbook Tea-Time at the Masters. It’s called Spiced Iced Tea (don’t know why they call it that as there is no spice in it). It makes its appearance at lots of luncheons and bridal/baby showers. It’s a lot like Mary Foy’s recipe but you boil 2 C. water and 2 C. sugar for 5 min., add 1 Qt. hot water and 8 regular tea bags. Steep 5 minutes. Discard tea bags and add 3/4 C. lemon juice, 2 C. orange juice, and a handful of mint. Makes 1 gallon. Enjoy! Note: I suppose you could skip the sugar and use Splenda – and have an extra petit four at the baby shower!

    • Hester this sounds delicious. Lord my copy of Tea Time at the Masters is ancient – but a classic! Thank you so much and love hearing from you! xox F

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