For those without the benefit of a calendar, Memorial Day has come and passed. This is significant for two reasons: First, it means I can finally wear my white shoes at the mansion in the Hamptons. Second, it signals that summer, Iced Tea season, has officially begun. It is time to hang up those hot tea mugs, replace them for giant, frosty glasses, thirsty for iced tea.

endless summerIf you’re sitting there reading this while a pitcher of super-sweetened, tea-colored liquid chills in the fridge, buckle down… we’ve got quite a bit of ground to cover. But for the already-enlightened, don’t click-off! In this latest installment of your favorite Tea Sommelier’s Blog, I’ll share some my favorite “cool” new ideas for this refreshing summer beverage, perfect for both the novice and the experienced. With all the interesting Iced Tea ideas that have been imported, ingenious recipes that have been created and old favorites that have been improved, it is apparent that tea is just as hot Iced.

Chill with your friends this summer by infusing Iced Tea into your next party. Of course, “normal” iced tea is always a safe bet to serve at this event. To make a great pitcher, simply double the amount of tea leaves (making it two teaspoons per cup of water in most cases), and steep as usual (five minutes in most cases). Once tea is ready, dilute with an equal amount of cold water or ice and garnish with mint or lemon. For a tropical variation, try a pineapple-coconut flavored white tea and garnish with melon balls and pineapple chunks.

green tea margaritaAnother surefire hit is Green Tea Margaritas — a much fuller, more interesting variation on the classic Margarita. Simply combine your favorite green tea (I recommend Lemongreen or Dragonwell), lime juice, sugar, Tequila, Cointreau and Triple Sec and pour into a salt- or sugar-rimmed glass (note: this drink works just as well if the alcohol is omitted!).

Any way you brew it, the most important thing to remember when making iced tea is quality. These ideas I’ve shared are to be utilized with this kept in mind: for the best iced tea, you’ll need the best tea. You’re allowed to splurge a little, it’s National Iced Tea Month after all!

Stay cool and drink deep.