The inevitable Indian summer is always around the corner, and there are few better ways to tackle it than settling down in the shade of a good eatery with a light snack and a cold beverage – like an iced tea! While the ubiquitous lemon and peach iced tea powdered/brewed versions of this are wildly popular and ensconced in the most innocuous of menus, a heartening variety of other avatars across the city caught our eye as well.
At Malaka Spice, for instance, the beverage takes a South East Asian spin – much like the rest of the menu – with a Thai twist in the form of cinnamon and lemongrass spice brewed into the tea, fortified with condensed milk and ice cream for a sweet energiser with surprising depth of flavour. And it goes well with a plate of their golden-fried calamari and mango dip or crunchy mutton ‘top hats’.
The Flour Works goes down the condensed milk route as well with its Vietnamese iced tea, but also does dairy-free, tart and invigorating apple and Boston (cranberry) versions of the cooler – best enjoyed with a tasty platter of their crunchy cheese, jalapeño and bacon crostinis.
Tiny bistro Le Petit Amour Patisserie and Bistro rustles up a sweet-sour, dark pink Pomegranate iced tea, which honestly works perfectly to wash down their gorgeous pomme frites (French fries) with a caper aioli.
The ginger lemon iced tea at German Bakery Wunderbar packs in a hit of spicy flavour with classic citrus freshness, and actually makes for a great non-alcoholic digestif, perhaps after pigging out on the spiced bacon marmalade thin-crust pizza here.
The Little Door’s Mediterranean décor brings you an unusual version that blends almost every other iced tea flavour known to mankind, mixing up peach, lemon, strawberry, melon, maple spice, green apple and orange into one glassful! Drink up with a plate of their little vol au vent pastries stuffed with creamy, herb-n-garlic mushrooms and corn.
But if ‘mild’ is your watchword, try the jasmine lime iced tea at Café Colombia, with its fragrant floral overtones. Alternatively, the masala chai iced tea has all the familiarity of our favourite morning cuppa distilled into an icy fresh guise – perfect with Colombian regañonas (corn fritters) with sour cream.
Over at Chili’s, where you can gorge on Tex-Mex fare to your heart’s content, the fiery flavours and richness of the food are easily balanced out with their watermelon Moji-Tea, passion fruit frozen tea, or the simple mango iced tea imbued with the zest of the king of fruits. These are quite the offset for their giant platter of chipotle and cheddar cheese doused nachos!
Perks N Brews lets you curl up with a book or a board game over snacky food and a long list of beverages, of which the ‘green tea on the rocks’ is a distinctive chilled version of the libation usually drunk steaming hot. Alternatively, a mixed berry iced tea is another tangy, aromatic possibility to sip on, maybe alongside a serving of their moist banana tea cake.
The organic unsweetened iced tea is a bit of an acquired taste over at Shisha Jazz Café, but a notably healthy version of this usually sugar-laden drink, which you could order several glasses of in this beautifully decorated, relaxed restaurant, alongside a bowl of their crisp and hot garlic mushrooms.
Effingut Brewerkz, though best known for its tasty craft brews, also offers up a strawberry iced tea for fruit-inclined teetotallers – recommended for non-drinkers accompanying beer lovers to this vibrant brewery (to maybe try with their Yassa roast lamb tossed in a ginger, oyster and chilli sauce).The kiwi iced tea over at Copa Cabana puts another exotic spin on this iced glassful, incorporating the unusual and fresh sweet-sour flavour of this green fruit into the mix – the crisp golden fried prawns starter is an excellent accompaniment.
Central Perk 7, styled along the lines of the famous café in the popular TV series Friends, rustles up a delicious and mellow peach-apricot version of iced tea, while the BottleRock Restaurant & Bar does an unusual melon-infused iced tea for a musky hit to the refresher. Across town, New Yorkers brings a blast of blueberry to this concoction, making for an appealingly scented energiser along with its deliciously cheesy appetisers.
And, if you would rather keep it classic, kick back with a tall glass of the lemon iced tea doused with the generous bite cooling mint at Dario’s.
However you may like it flavoured, the ubiquitous iced tea is clearly one summer antidote nobody in the city will be refusing this season.
Shweta has been writing about food for a few years now and has dabbled in TV, print and online journalism for over almost a decade. She has written on and edited for topics ranging from the environment, culture and lifestyle to politics, business and, of course, food. She has written for publications under the Times Group, Fox Life India and NDTV. When she's not devouring a good book or spending vast swathes of time on the Interweb, she loves to set off on all manner of culinary explorations.