2018 Trends: Exotic iced tea

Lemon and peach iced teas are passé. Today, it’s all about giving things a spin. Experimenting with local and exotic ingredients to arrive at a harmonious blend that offers the best of both worlds. So, you have a local beverage — aam panna pitted against caffeine-free butterfly pea tea or eternal favourite nariyal competing with Honeydew Melon, all there to quench your thirst one sip at a time.

How butterfly pea tea replaced lemon? 

When you picture a tall glass of iced tea — the flavours that you generally associate with it are lemon and peach. For the longest time, these were the only options till people started experimenting with both local and exotic ingredients. And now with the availability of various infused tea blends, it’s possible to create interesting combinations — from a thandai oolong tea, Butterfly Pea tea to a seasonal favourite Aam panna tea. Variety is clearly the spice of life with exciting variations to sample. And with more and more people trading that can or glass of beer for something non-alcoholic, mixologists have had to step up to the challenge and create something unique.

2018 — The year of booze-free beverages

Alcohol-free drinks was proposed to be a big trend this year. And with the heat burning things up, it’s not surprising that people would look for natural, refreshing coolers giving booze a skip. Add to that, the millennials’ conscious decision to stay away from alcohol and mixologists have a tall order to fix a concoction that’s booze-free, refreshingly new and delicious. Kevin Dias, mixologist at Nara, Mumbai, shares, “Since people are looking for booze-free options, non-alcoholic drinks are in demand. Another reason is that iced teas and non-alcoholic drinks are light. They are also sometimes low in sugar or no added sugar apart from the juices used which are naturally sweet.

These drinks are also fresh and people who are health conscious veer towards them.” Abhishek Bindal, VP Operations, KA Hospitality, agrees and shares, “There is a growing demand for iced teas, smoothies and different fruit blends, especially during this time of the year as with the scorching heat people look to order coolers like fresh juices and iced teas. We also have a range of them to cater to different tastes. We have the strawberry and the vanilla iced tea for those who like sweeter drinks, we have the cherry and ginger iced tea for those who like a spicy-sweet drink, we have the lime and passion fruit iced tea which is our truly Asian-inspired iced tea and the cucumber and lime iced tea that is perfect for a hot summer day.”

Creating flavours but not losing the essence

And while the emphasis is on creating interesting flavours, mixologists have two ways of achieving that. Some rely on their in-house tea blends like The Kettlery that uses its thandai oolong tea blend to prepare a Must Thandai replicating the festive, summer beverage in all its glory, served with a jalebi on top. While others like chef Sidney D’cunha, executive sous chef, JW Marriott Mumbai Sahar, has taken the essence of the summer cooler — Aam Panna to create their version of the Aam Paana Iced Tea. He says, “Aam Paana is a traditional summer cooler served in most states of India.

We have taken the essence of the drink and added that to another popular beverage — iced tea. This way, guests can indulge in the flavour of chilled ice tea spiked with mango.” And it’s not just the flavours that you can look forward to. Restaurants are also playing with techniques, as in the case of Shizusan that uses a particular cooling technique to create their pulled iced tea. Chef Paul Kinny elaborates, “Teh Tarik literally meaning pulled tea can be found in kopi houses in Malaysia and Singapore. The beauty lies in their customary ‘pulling’ or cooling technique.” It’s a sweet iced tea and is pulled to frothy perfection. Nilesh, the beverage head at Social believes the trick is knowing how to use the flavour tones to your advantage. And what you see, is not what you get. He explains, “We make a Na’ Real Whiskey, which is unlike any non-alcoholic drink out there, smooth and complex all at the same time.

Na’Real Whiskey is a hearty drink as we use Lapsang Souchong tea. The smokey element from the tea lifts the entire drink from a singular note to a flavour that cleverly mimics actual whiskey and single malts. We use fresh coconut water that is formed into ice and with time it keeps adding a layer to the drink.” And while back home we are used to iced teas without milk, tourists who have had the opportunity to visit Thailand would have also sampled Thai Iced Teas which are very popular there. And, that’s inspiring chefs back home to create versions of it here.

With love from Thailand

The sweet taste of the chilled coconut water and the green or black iced tea with milk stick with you long after your trip to Thailand. And chef Farrokh Khambata at Izaya chose the latter as an inspiration for his take on it. He says, “The idea to incorporate the Thai Iced Tea on to our menu came from the bewilderment of seeing the addition of dairy in an iced tea during our trip to Thailand. The use of carnation milk (Thai evaporated milk) gives a little richness to the iced tea while maintaining its light qualities.” The people at Mango Tree on the other hand have gone with a fruity twist. Trevor Mackenzie, managing partner says, “The idea of the HoneyDew Melon Ice Tea was inspired by the abundance of flavours in Thai cuisine and of what most envisions Thailand as a holiday spot. Therefore we wanted to create a refreshing feeling just as most have experienced in Thailand and if they haven’t yet then we hope to inspire that feeling in them to transport them as if they were there.”  So the next time you are thirsty, cool down with a Thai Iced tea or a kiwi lime or a mango cha.

Source: Exotic iced tea trends