Day after day after day the temperature here in Atlanta has reached well above 90 degrees, and all I can say for myself is that I've been drinking about as much iced tea as Don Meredith. On rare occasions I drink it plain, although usually I prefer it sweetened. I never order sweet tea at a restaurant as I never know what I'm going to get; I doctor mine up with Splenda instead. At the risk of being run out of town, there is nothing more sickening than sickeningly sweet tea. Arnold Palmers are okay, but I'm more of a purist. And I'm not a snob either when it comes to the brand of tea I brew. Luzianne or Lipton is fine by me.
Tiffany & Co. Chrysanthemum Iced Tea Spoon
A little bit like the Japanese tea ritual, serving iced tea can be done so with a few fancy flourishes. Of course there are sterling iced tea spoons, made long enough to stir the sugar crystals that accumulate at the bottom of a tall glass of tea.
There are also those silver sipper spoons that many people collect. I think they're cute, but I also think that they're not appropriate for all social occasions. It just seems silly to offer your 90 year old grandmother a glass of iced tea with a silver straw.
Wiliam Yeoward "Fern" pitcher
A nice heavy crystal or glass pitcher is nice to have on hand for serving iced tea and looks especially pretty when the tea is flecked with mint leaves.
Edwardian Antique Silver Punch Bowl from Daniel Bexfield Antiques
But for a party, a shower, or a luncheon, you have to go all out with your tea. You've got to mix it with all kinds of fruit juices and such to make it extra special. And by all means, it must be served in a pretty punch bowl with slices of fruit floating at the top. (I know this might sound awfully fruity to some of you, but hey, it's tradition!) Even C.Z. Guest served her guests her special Party Tea. In case you're interested:
C. Z. Guest Party Tea
6 tea bags
2 quarts water
1/4 cup superfine sugar
1 cup orange juice
6 mint sprigs
Make the tea: either steep the tea bags in boiling water for three minutes or set them in jars in the sun or in the refrigerator for several hours. Chill tea. Before serving, add the sugar, orange juice, and mint sprigs. Slice the lemon and orange and stick each slice with 3-4 cloves. Float fruit slices on top in a punch bowl.
Makes 10 cups.
Image at top from Martha Stewart.com; click here to see all of her iced tea recipes.