Picture this: sand between your toes, salt in your hair, and the blazing sun overhead. To recreate this exact summer feeling is why we've crafted a delicious, limited-time seasonal iced tea collection featuring six mouthwatering new organic tea, herb, and fruit blends. We sat down with our in-house tea master Anastasia Arampatzi to learn more about how she developed each of the new iced teas, her creative process, and what makes iced tea so special.
What was your first reaction when you learned we were starting a new iced tea line?
I got excited right away! Even before I asked for the details of the project or anything else, I was already thinking of possible combinations or recalling ideas that I kept in my memory bank until the right project came up.
Your memory bank?
Yes, that’s what I call it. I come across inspirations for new tea blends all the time. Sometimes a smell transports me to a long-lost memory from my childhood. Sometimes a flavor sparks a creative curiosity. All these ideas brew in my head, sometimes for years before the right project presents itself.
How would you describe your creative process?
It usually starts with a blank piece of paper. I make myself a tea and sit down in the sunlit tea kitchen at our back offices in Charlottenburg. Then, I start to draw down an ever-expanding mind map. There’s always a key ingredient in my tea blends, and growing from there are possible combinations I remember or could imagine. Once I have found a few interesting recipes, I try them out and play around with the exact combinations and ratios.
Which inspiration became an iced tea first?
I immediately thought of summers growing up in Greece. My family has jasmine trees in the garden, and I remember their smell in the warm air. That’s how SUMMER LOVE AFFAIR N°836 came along. I really wanted to create an iced tea on the basis of jasmine tea to encapsulate that feeling. Combining it with mandarin oil gave it even more mediterranean flavor, giving that thick summer air a flavor to bite into.
How would you describe the general concept behind the Iced Tea line?
Like everything we do at PAPER & TEA, the line is clean, elegant and fresh. These tea blends are simple but not simplistic. There is usually a core of two to three ingredients, which give the tea its character and are supported by the remaining ingredients. I am a strong believer of the "less is more" principle. I prefer few ingredients and creations where each ingredient can be sensed, enjoyed for its individual quality and at the same time rediscovered in harmonious combinations, rather than having a plethora of ingredients that cover each other. For this project, we wanted to create 6 distinctive iced teas using only organic ingredients of the highest quality and as many tea categories as possible to show how well they can work as iced teas too. This is why we have a japanese sencha in our WONDERFUL SHORT NIGHTS N°839 or herbals like the honeybush in the SWEET MOSQUITO BITE N°834.
To what extent do the iced teas express this underlying concept?
You can taste it. I wanted each of the six creations to represent a different summer mood, a different story. For instance the strong juicy presence of red berries in PERFECT SUNBURN N°838 is so playful it reminds me of kids playing outside with delightful strawberry stains on their cheeks. Compare that to the urban scene set with WONDERFUL SHORT NIGHTS N°839, a modern and vibrant iced tea combining Japanese sencha with bergamot oil which tastes sophisticated like a summer night out in the city. All six iced teas are refreshing and summery, so you can feel, smell and taste the summer, even if you are drinking them at work.
What was different to crafting iced tea blends in comparison to "regular" Master Blends?
It’s important to stress that all kinds of tea – whether pure, blended, or herbal – can be enjoyed hot and cold. When you have a high-quality tea, chances are it will shine when prepared as an iced tea or cold brew too, because the brewing process is much more gentle. However, I wanted to show in this line that some ingredients that we typically associate with the colder months are actually pretty delicious when enjoyed in summer. Take SANDY FEET JOY N°835 for instance, a delicate blend of fruits and white tea with cinnamon and cardamom. Whilst cinnamon and cardamom are often used in warm chai blends or in Christmas biscuits, they are super refreshing and soft in this iced tea creation. I hope to surprise you with this tea blend.
Any tips on how to prepare the perfect iced tea?
The principle is simple: You brew your tea leaves as usual but with only half the amount of water. The other half comes later in the form of ice cubes. Once the tea is ready, you pour it over the ice cubes and let them melt. Allow time for the hot tea and the ice cubes to mingle. Of course, you can drink your iced tea straight away, but allowing more time will result in better mingling of the flavors and aromas. However, do follow precisely the brewing instructions for the concentrated hot tea! Green tea in particular, gets bitter if brewed for too long or at too high water temperatures. Also, I’d always suggest using bottled or filtered water, as the water quality makes a huge difference in your final cup.
Thank you for the beautiful insights. We can’t wait to taste more of your creations!