It’s hot. It’s summer. And I love to drink hot tea now. The scientific research about whether drinking hot tea makes one feel cooler in torrid weather is inconclusive, but as a tea lover, unapologetically, I drink hot tea all year ‘round. Each cup is a journey with its own terroir contained within.
With each hot cup of tea, whatever the weather outside, I am transported to new tea-growing regions, each with its own personality. When I drink tea in hot weather, I am put in mind of the climate where the tea is grown, somewhat analogous to southern California, where the days in summer are hot, but the evenings are cool; the temperate ocean air rolling east from the Pacific, blanketing my area of the city with its cooling effect.
All of this puts me in mind of the cycle of a cup of tea, which progresses from hot to warm to cool. I like to experience the cup in all of its temperature phases, each of which reveals something different about the tea. And particularly in summer when the most fragrant stone fruit is plentiful at markets everywhere, I do something else with the hot cup of tea: I pour it over sliced, pitted, and peeled stone fruit such as peaches, plums, nectarines, of all hues and hybrids, aromatic, highly perfumed, sweet and tart, and let the fruit steep for a couple of hours in the refrigerator. (Just as a guideline, I use 8 ounces of brewed tea for each 8 ounces of prepared fruit.)
I can sweeten the liquid with some sugar syrup or honey as desired, but most times, I like to enjoy the tea and the fruit as is, no sweetening added. If I want to be a bit fancy, I might dollop some softly whipped cream, sweetened lightly with honey – or Greek yogurt – or a combination of the two, over the tea based compote and luxuriate in the lushness of the fruit and the sharpness or mellowness of the tea, depending on which tea growing region the tea comes from—Assam, Darjeeling, Yunnan, or Kenya. I’m transported and revel in the marriage of flavors of the tea and the fruit commingling, merging, complexing each other. This is a no-recipe dessert for tea drinkers and farmers’ market aficionados that can be enjoyed all summer long, or as long as the hot weather and the fruit last.
What might you drink with this dessert? A cup of hot tea, at the end of a hot summer day, of course, whether the heat of the day has subsided or not.
Image of tea and fruit courtesy of Grant Cochrane of freedigitalphotos.net