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Just peachy: ‘Tea Lady’ shares recipe for peach iced tea in honor of national peach month

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MISSY SHEEHAN / For The State Journal MISSY SHEEHAN / For The State Journal
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By MISSY SHEEHAN

For The State Journal

It’s August, otherwise known as National Peach Month, and that means it’s time to celebrate one of the most beloved fruits of summer: you guessed it, peaches.

The soft, fuzzy fruit is believed to have originated in China before spreading westward to the Mediterranean region and Europe and then to the Americas along with Spanish explorers. Today, peaches are grown commercially throughout the United States, including in West Virginia. Peak season for peaches in West Virginia can last from mid-July to early September, depending on variety, treating us to ripe, juicy peaches just in time for the hot, sticky days of August.

Judy Larkin, also known as “The Tea Lady,” who owns and operates The Larkin Tea Co. LLC, with her husband, Bill, said peaches pair perfectly with another favorite on hot summer days: iced tea. Like peaches, the tea plant also originated in China.

“The peach was a symbol of immortality to the ancient Chinese,” Larkin wrote in a post on The Larkin Tea Co. website. “Peaches were placed in the tombs of close family members to prevent the bodies from decaying. Giving the fruit was a sign of friendship just as offering a cup of tea is still a gesture of friendship the world over.”

The flavors of peach and tea complement each other perfectly, said Larkin, who combines the two ingredients to make her peach iced tea — a recipe she said she found and adapted to make her own. “We use Ti Kuan Yin, an oolong from China, along with local peaches from Kitchen’s Orchard,” Larkin said. “It’s nice and refreshing, especially on a hot day.”

Larkin also makes marigold-flower ice cubes, using flowers from her own garden, to add just a hint of flavor and a nice visual effect to her iced tea.

While any variety of peach will work for her recipe, Larkin recommends buying peaches directly from orchards or at farmers’ markets.

“It makes a great difference in the quality of the peaches,” she said. “And tree-ripened peaches are always the tastiest.”

Larkin serves her peach iced tea along with her British-style peach scones topped with ginger-peach jam for a sweet afternoon treat. Get her scones and jam recipes at larkinteacompany.com.


 Judy Larkin’s  Peach Iced Tea Recipe:


Ingredients:

  • 1/2 to 1 oz. marigold flowers (Larkin grows her own, but suggests checking health food stores for this ingredient.)
  • 8 cups hot oolong tea (Larkin uses Ti Kuan Yin.)
  • 2 cups peeled and finely diced peaches
  • Honey, to taste

Instructions: 

Remove petals from the flowers and place 3 to 4 petals in each compartment of an ice cube tray. Fill the compartments halfway with water and freeze for at least 2 hours. Fill each compartment to the top with water and freeze until solid.

Combine the strained hot tea with the diced peaches in a medium-sized bowl. Allow to steep for one hour.

Mash the peach pulp against the side of the bowl.

Pour the tea and peach mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a pitcher. Press the solids with the back of a wooden spoon to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard the solids.

Add honey to taste and chill for at least a couple of hours.

Serve in tall glasses with the marigold-flower ice cubes.