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…)
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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?
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.)