It's all about hydration come summertime: Added hours of sunlight, heat and humidity charge our batteries socially, but dehydrate us physically, necessitating a change in our drinking habits.
Tea's quenched thirst for time immemorial, whether it be in the form of sweet black tea in the South, a regal Arnold Palmer at the club or bottled green tea. In addition to hydration, tea's caffeine, antioxidant properties, and pleasant texture make it a natural choice over soda or bottled water.
And it just so happens to pair perfectly with booze: earthy black teas with whiskey, flowery tisanes with gin, and green tea with rum, for instance. In the wintertime, stiff toddies prepared with hot tea defrost and decompress us, while in the summer, tea is punch's best friend.
Punch requires twice the dilution of a standard cocktail, rendering it preeminently quaffable. The format is perfect, as the preparation is front-loaded, so you can relax with guests and enjoy your handiwork (say, this Memorial Day weekend), instead of heading back to the shaker. And you can just use a casual, glass iced tea pitcher in place of a punch bowl—it's both charming and convenient when you're moving the party in and out of the house.
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Instead of freezing a big block of ice, or filling your punch with standard cubes, which will water it down, store it in the fridge or a cooler to keep it cold, and add fresh ice to each serving. I've made large portions of Green Tea Punch (see the recipe) in less than five minutes by brewing fresh tea and cooling it rapidly with crushed ice. In this classic five-ingredient (tea, rum, lime, sugar, nutmeg) punch, earthy sencha tea is balanced by the bright mint tisane. Be sure to add the sugar while the tea is still hot (so it melts), and add the citrus after the tea cools down (so it doesn't scald).
Then put out your pitcher and let everyone wonder when the bar's opening.
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