A lot of folks just can’t wait for those Winter gray skies to disappear, those snow drifts to melt and flow down the storm drains (if you’re lucky), and the hours of daylight to get longer with the coming of warmer temperatures, gorgeous flowers, and brilliant blue skies of Spring. The outdoor tea time is part of that excitement and it’s calling you now!
The Outdoor Tea Time vs. the Picnic
Just a word or two here to clarify between that outdoor tea time and a picnic. The difference is more than just tea.
- The Outdoor Tea Time – the focus is tea. Sounds rather obvious, but tea can be served at picnics, making things a bit confusing for some folks. A tea time is real tea, not weak iced tea like you get at many of the fast food places. That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy iced tea or, better yet for you from the Southern regions of the U.S., sweet tea at your outdoor tea time, but it best when made from premium tea, as close to tea time as you can, and using loose leaf tea instead of bags and/or instant.
- The Picnic – the focus is on food and activities. There are certainly foods served at outdoor tea times, but they are secondary. For the picnic, food is foremost. And there are usually various activities, depending on the occasion for the picnic, which is another difference, that is, a picnic is often a way of celebrating or recognizing something (family reunions, church gatherings, company get-togethers, etc.).
That being said, on to the tea time!
5 Do’s and Don’ts to Enjoying Tea Outdoors
A few do’s and don’ts that will help you enjoy that tea outdoors a bit better.
1 – Do Beware of Insects
This is sweet tea time for many folks. And for others, sweet tea is a year-round event but in these warmer seasons they get to enjoy it outdoors. The “sweet” in sweet tea usually comes from sugar. And that makes it attractive to certain critters, including bees and wasps. So a covered cup is a good thing.
2 – Don’t Worry About Spills
A great thing about eating and drinking outdoors never seems to get mentioned: you don’t have to worry about spills! Well, not most of the time. And this is especially true of tea. You can certainly shed a tear over spilt tea, but you won’t need to worry about carpet stains, tablecloths ruined, etc. Your deck or patio are another matter.
3 – Do Bring Enough to Share
Tea tends to draw a crowd. The sight of you swigging (and hopefully not spilling) your tea, iced or hot, sweet or not, will naturally attract attention. Be ready with a bit extra. Having some to share is always a friendly gesture.
4 – Don’t Overstay the Tea
When the tea is gone, your time outdoors should be done. You need to go back inside the house or a store or a tea shop and get some more tea.
5 – Do Come Back Outside
When you have more tea, head back out and be ready for more outdoor enjoyment!
Can You Have Tea at Your Picnic? Sure!
Tea is pretty simple to do and is also rather essential to a truly proper picnic.
Hot Tea at a Picnic
The Yard Picnic can be the easiest location to arrange for having tea served. Hot tea is a simple matter of an electric kettle and a long extension cord to an external outlet on your house. If you prefer a stovetop kettle, you can get a hot plate and have it outside plugged in to that outlet and set the kettle full of water on it to heat.) Or even better, use a camp stove and kettle (but set the camp stove on a nonflammable surface).
If your picnic is taking place further from home and/or any electrical outlets, you have two alternatives:
- a thermos full of hot water so you can steep the tea at the picnic (just be sure you’re going to be steeping a tea that doesn’t need boiling hot water – a green or white or even a lighter oolong)
- a thermos full of the hot tea already steeped
Iced Tea at a Picnic
Iced tea (or cold tea that’s been chilled overnight) can be made in advance and put into an unbreakable container such as a plastic pitcher. The lidded kind are obviously best.
How to make:
- Boiling water
- Twice as much dry tea leaves as you would normally use (for example, 6 cups of water and 12 teaspoons of tea leaves instead of the usual 6 teaspoons)
- Fill the plastic pitcher with ice (chills and dilutes the hot tea and keeps the plastic from being melted)
- Pour in the hot tea (straining out the loose tea leaves)
For Sweetened Tea
- Strain the hot liquid into a heat-safe pitcher
- Add sugar or other sweetener while the liquid is still hot and stir well
- Pour into that plastic pitcher full of ice
- Alternative: Store sweetened tea in the refrigerator until it’s time to pack up to go to the picnic and put it in a cooler for transport, add ice to it at the picnic
Enjoy your tea, hot or cold, at that picnic and have a fabulous time.