Summer, for me, brings back memories of a string of happy days dotted with sweltering afternoons.
All things winter are packed away, the ceiling fans work overtime, the gulmohar trees (delonix regia) burst in a bloom of bright red colours, the mosquitoes are abuzz, and the sweet smell of mangoes seduce the market place.
In India, as April draws to a close, the season of grisha or summer brings holidays, happiness and heat.
Some Soothing spices and Healing herbs
For generations there have existed hand-me-down summer recipes that speak of some everyday spices and herbs which protect the body from the heat outside.
Cinnamon- the inner bark of the tree that is used in many Indian desserts. Amongst its other properties, cinnamon can cool down the body by two or three degrees. My grandma’s favourite spice.
Lemons and Oranges- Vitamin C is an important nutrient that not only helps hydrate the body but also to give a boost to the immune system.
Lemongrass- Often an herb used in soups and curries in Southeast Asia, lemongrass is one of the most popular ingredients added to tea around the world.
This is because it is not only a source of Vitamin A and C, lemongrass is a cure for colds that is quite common when the season changes from spring to summer.
Spearmint- Mint chutney, mint tea, lime juice with mint- in India mint is quintessentially a cooling herb of summer for its taste and properties. We even have a talcum body powder with cooling mint!
The summer heat can bogue you down give you the Natsubate, which is the Japanese term for “summer fatigue”.
The best drink for this season is tea- whether served hot or cold.
Tea revitalises, relaxes and rehydrates us. Green tea, Black tea and Oolong are versatile tea varieties, and when they are teamed up with certain spices, herbs and flowers, the blends make for wonderful natural health drinks.
Carry your Tea
Tea-bags in sachets. They are light, they can be tucked in anywhere, and you can choose to carry a collection of samplers so you discover a new flavour every time.
Whether you are working or leaving on a summer holiday, a tea sachet is your friend in need.
Imagine, waking up in Pelling (Sikkim, India) at the foothills of the Himalayas and sipping on your favourite Oolong tea.
Or gifting a few sachets of Ginger green tea to your Croatian tour guide (it might make you a new friend).
After some wine and cheese in Paris- a sip of Peppermint tea may even be advisable.
Whether it’s jet lag or sleeping in an unknown bed, sleep escapes you the first night during most holidays. A jasmine tea is your solution to some peaceful shut-eye.
And if you are in a country known for its teas- you can even bring back home some souvenir sachets.
The Iced Tea Party
When the mercury touches 40 degree Celsius, having a cocktail party isn’t practical. Instead, Iced Tea Parties are catching on. A different flavoured chilled tea is served with each course- a cinnamon green iced tea or a matcha tea ice shake, with the evening closing with an aromatic chamomile tea.
Whatever be your beat-the-heat strategy, be sure to add tea to your list.
Quote of the day:“Iced tea! Nothing is half so refreshing as a glass of black tea piled high with ice! More than a quencher of thirst, it is a tamer of tempers, a lifter of lethargy, and a brightener of smiles. It is a taste of Winter’s chill, magically trapped in midsummer’s glass.” ― Paul F. Kortepeter, Tea with Victoria Rose