July 4, Barbecue Season and Tea: An All-American Combination

July 4, Barbecue Season and Tea: An All-American Combination

Here in Colorado, every season invites us out to our grills.  The sun shines 300 days a year, and rain is sporadic—weather doesn’t often keep us away from our outdoor kitchens. The exception: It’s -6 degrees, and the path to the grill is deep in snow.

But still—no season rivals summer for its volume of outdoor smoke-and-sizzle atmospherics. A favorite beverage in hand, we flip burgers, smoke ribs, char onions, blacken chicken and savor our time cooking out in the open, listening to the wind rattle leaves and the birds sing.

With July 4 next week sending families and friends to their grills en masse, it’s time to get ready! And when you put together the list of provisions you’ll need from the grocery store—the bratwurst, wings, ground beef, gojuchang barbecue sauce (yes!)—make sure to add tea to the list! Skip the boxes of negligible stuff you buy in boxes at the supermarket. It’s time to up the tea selections for the heart of grilling season!

And remember, American colonists in 1773 tossed 342 chests of tea into Boston Harbor as an act of protest for English taxation. The event—the Boston Tea Party—served as a pivotal event in the beginning of the war that liberated America from England. The United States and tea enjoy a long, consequential relationship. We can’t think of any beverage more suited for July 4 celebrations than tea!


Teas for Summer Barbecues: Lapsang Souchong

Go for the smoke! With lapsang souchong.

One quality that will perfume your barbecue, regardless of whether the all-important grill involves charcoal, wood or gas flames: smoke. And so the famous Chinese tea lapsang souchong, from coastal Fujian Province, stands as an ideal July 4 partner—it’s smoky! 

Legend has it the first lapsang came about in 1646, as people living in the Wuyi Mountains fled Qing Dynasty soldiers. To prevent their just-plucked tea leaves from being ruined, they dried them quickly over fires made from pine wood, and buried them in sacks. When it came time to sip the tea, it had changed—dramatically. But people grew to love the smokiness of the tea, and it’s been a Chinese mainstay ever since. The word lapsang comes from la (pine) and sang (wood), and souchong means “small sort”; the teas leaves are slender and slight.

Chefs and home cooks often incorporate lapsang souchong into cooking; it of course adds smokiness to dishes. We think many fish dishes, in particular, respond elegantly to lapsang souchong. 

But we adore sipping it—including iced, while standing beside the flame-kissed, sizzling New York Strip.


Teas for Summer Barbecues: Cape Town Medley

Get your braai on—with South African rooibos.

Down in South Africa, a braai is a barbecue-centered gathering. It’s immensely popular in the country, and typically involves a big range of meats—beef and lamb, but also things like ostrich. Crayfish tails figure into many braais, too. The star of the meal is often boerwors, a sausage made from beef or beef and pork, and swaddled in classic baking spices like nutmeg and cloves. 

What are those South Africans drinking? Beer and wine, sure. But South Africans drink rooibos, a tea made from the local rooibos shrub, like it’s water. We understand why—rooibos is absolutely delicious. In addition, it’s extremely refreshing. The flavor ups the refreshment ante, but so does the botanical’s high quotient of electrolytes—minerals that quench thirst and boost the body with caffeine-free vitality.

We think it’s a perfect barbecue tea, regardless of whether you are in Johannesburg or Jamestown. Our Cape Town Medley contains rooibos, pomegranate, pomelo, orange, carrot and safflower.


Teas for Summer Barbecue: Summer Tranquility

The peach and apricot in this blend complement a wide range of foods, and the white tea cuts through fat and balances sweet.

Summer is busy—but it also should involve quite a bit of relaxation. Which is one reason we often brew our Summer Tranquility blend during the hot months. There’s something about this melding of beautiful white tea with peach and apricot natural flavors that brings about feelings of serenity and peace. Fortunately, it also serves as an outstanding barbecue partner. As so many meats and fish pair winningly with peach and apricot, this tea is a natural. Meanwhile, the subtle white tea cuts through fat and balances sweetness. It’s wonderful.


Teas for Summer Barbecue: 14 Hours Ahead Cocktail (With Matcha)

A magnificent matcha-based cocktail – a barbecue gem.

Maybe you want a little adult juice for that barbecue? We understand. Make tea cocktails! Given tea’s enormous diversity of flavor, it’s an outstanding cocktail complement.

For this drink, compliments of the excellent website devoted to bartenders, Liquor.com, we turn to glorious matcha tea—the bright green tea made from powdered Japanese tea leaves.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 ounces London dry gin
  • 3/4 ounce lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 3/4 ounce lime juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1/2 ounce honey syrup
  • 1/2 ounce heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon matcha (powdered green tea)

Steps

  • Add all ingredients into a shaker with ice and shake vigorously until well-chilled. (You may wish to dry-shake—without ice—first, then add ice and shake again to chill.) 
  • Strain into a Collins glass over fresh ice. 
  • Serve with a straw.

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