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Tè al limone

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This drink never fails to remind me of summer days sitting in a café on the edge of a piazza, quenching my thirst while the heat beats my face. This drink is cold, or iced, lemon tea. Tè freddo (cold tea) as it is known, is a popular drink that is consumed widely throughout Italy. It is typically available in lemon and peach flavours, but there also some other varieties such as green tea. Yes, I probably should have titled this post “Iced tea” but the lemon variety is what I tend to associate with this drink–yes, I really ought to try the peach one next time!

The two main commercial brands are Lipton (also available in the UK) and Estathe’ (a brand by Ferrero, who also produce Kinder and Ferrero Rocher). Not only are they served in cafes and restaurants, but you can usually buy them in large bottles from supermarkets and grocers. In this sense it is quite different from the UK–even though the British are avid tea consumers, we don’t really drink iced tea in the same way as Italians and other Europeans. Typical… 🙂

The drink itself usually contains sugar and lemon extract, and is often served with ice (if bought at a café). In supermarkets, they are usually kept in the non-chilled sections next to soft drinks like Coke–you will have to put them in the fridge for an hour or two them at home before drinking, or add ice. If you don’t do either, then you’re basically drinking a lukewarm sugary drink with a mild lemon flavour–a bit like drinking unchilled Coke. Yuck. It’s the cold that really brings out the taste and refreshment.

If you order it at a café, you can ask for ‘te freddo’, but the waiter will then almost certainly ask you if you want ‘al limone o alla pesca’ (lemon or peach). I usually just ask for ‘te al limone’, without mentioning the ‘freddo’. Once, in Genoa, I was actually asked “freddo, vero?” by the waitress, when it was nearly 30 degrees. I should probably have said “No bella, il piu’ caldo possibile.” 😉

Featured image from Flickr (

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