copyright Grace Albaugh
The tea is in! I've been missing it for quite some time. I settled for herb teas I got at the grocery store but it just isn't the same. My tea is special. It comes in wonderfully hand packed foil pouches. The aroma that wafts out when you open it is amazing. My tea is sold with passion and love by a woman who offers easy conversation. My tea is an entire experience not just something to drink.
I went to choose some new tea varieties one day a few months ago only to find out my tea shop was gone. An empty space was all that was left. I felt deflated and sad. I asked the woman who also had a shop in the same building where my tea went. Apparently it moved to Minneapolis in the sky way system. A good move for the tea but it may as well be on Mars for me. I don't drive into downtown Minneapolis unless my life depends on it. I'm sure if you live there it all makes perfect sense to you but I lovingly call it the city that lets you in but never lets you out. I have to be feeling very brave to venture into the Minneapolis experience. So I did what anyone would do and headed for my computer instead. I googled Northern Lights Tea and there it was. Their web address. I clicked on it and wonders of wonders, not only was it the right tea shop but they had on line ordering.
I quickly devoured all of the tea descriptions and chose about six of them, placed my order, and added a little note. Then I waited. It only took about four days and then, the tea arrived! I was so excited to open that package and tear the tops of the foil pouches. Stick my nose right inside and breath deeply. Aaaah, that's the aroma I remember. I'm back in tea heaven.
Mother made the best iced tea I ever had. The ingredients were simple and the process was the same every time. First she had me fetch the large clear glass pitcher. It lived on the top shelf in the kitchen cupboard. I pulled up a chair, climbed up on the counter and reached for the handle. It was heavy but I managed it and handed it off to mother before I got down.
Next came the sugar. We kept a small porcelain cup in the sugar canister, about a half cup in size. Four scoops went into the pitcher. Then two lemons cut into six wedges squeezed on top of the sugar. They lived together like that for about ten minutes as the water in the pan came to a boil. Then went in the good old Lipton tea bags, I think four of them, and as soon as the tea was really strong, mother removed the bags and poured the tea over the sugar and lemon. I loved to watch as the sugar swirled around in the dark liquid until it melted. Then came the ice, half a pitcher full to cool it all down. That's why the tea had to be so strong. When the pitcher was empty of all it's tea I reached down in and plucked out the lemon wedges. This was the best part. They were devoid of almost all their juice after having been squeezed, but I loved to peel what remained of it's fruit and taste the sweet/sour flavor with a hint of tea.
Mother always served the iced tea when we had fried chicken and fruit salad for dinner on a hot summer day. That was the only time. Don't ask me why. Don't ask mother either, she doesn't remember, but that was the way it was.