A few weeks ago, I had the chance to attend a class on iced teas and tea sangrias at the Park Plaza. The Park Plaza is one of the many places in Boston to treat yourself to afternoon tea, but it is the only place with a tea sommelier, Cynthia Gold, who will walk you through the tea choices and find the right blend for you. She also offers Tea 101 classes, complementary looks into brewing and enjoying teas.
When I first signed up for this class, I thought the focus was going to be primarily iced teas. But we focused rather intently (at least for the first half of the class) on sangrias featuring iced teas. I didn’t think I was going to be a big fan – at least, until I actually tasted it. From the first sip, I couldn’t help but think that this would be a light and refreshing summer drink, and I knew I would be mixing up a batch soon. And although we were given some recipes to follow, the class was really more about learning the guidelines of how to brew a good tea and how to match flavors to make a tasty sangria.
In general, white and green teas pair better with white wines, while black tea pairs better with red wines. Keep the wines light – we used Rieslings in-class, and since Rieslings are my favorite, I was quite happy. Lighter fruits, like nectarines and apples, also work well with white wines, while berries are a little better suited to reds (although I added berries to my white and loved the flavor). And steep the fruit in the brandy overnight to make them thoroughly boozy.
Jasmine Iced Tea Sangria
Summer fruits, sliced thin (I used one white nectarine, one plum, and handful of blueberries, and a few pitted cherries, but try whatever you have on hand)
2 Tbsp loose jasmine tea (I used this lovely tea from Tealuxe) or 6 tea bags
3 ½ cups hot water (not boiling, about 175 °)
1 bottle Riesling, chilled
Simple syrup (I had rhubarb syrup on hand, which added another nice layer of fruitiness)
Place the fruit in a jar or a bowl and cover with brandy. Give the fruit a good stir, then cover and let sit overnight.
In a heat-proof pitcher or measuring cup, add hot water to the tea and let steep for 3 minutes. Too hot and the tea will taste dull; too long and the tea will taste bitter. Strain leaves from the liquid, the chill tea until cold.
In a large pitcher, combine fruit (drain off brandy, although you may want to add a tablespoon or two to the finished product), tea, and wine. Add simple syrup to taste, and stir.