Spring has sprung a little earlier and many of us have been caught off guard. Who knew that we would be whiling away March weekends on the porch working on our tan lines and a thirst watching our betters muss themselves up in the garden.
The kids will soon be out in full force, knee-high budding entrepreneurs lining the streets like apple blossoms with their two bits a glass stands hawking lemonade and iced tea.
Ah, the joys of a good glass of iced tea and its endless variations; you can opt for a more traditional beverage made with Earl Grey Tea, or, if you don’t feel like caffeine, herbal iced teas made with your favorite tisanes are just as refreshing.
A good hint when making iced tea is to let the tea cool before refrigerating; if you put hot tea in the fridge it will become cloudy, which may slightly diminish the appearance.
Another tip is to make a few ice cube trays out of some of your favorite teas so when you ice them up in thermoses or travelling mugs you don’t overly dilute your beverage. Alternatively, if you choose to use regular ice cubes, make sure your tea is good and strong, especially if you plan on topping it up with some cold soda water.
Here are a few of our favorite recipes for ice tea, ranging from the basic lemony classic, to Ina Garten’s zippy Rosehip blend, to an adults only version from Bobby Flay’s that feature’s Blackberry and Bourbon.
Basic Ice Tea:
This recipe is not rocket science, basically the name says it all, but suggests using simple sugar syrup, which is always handy to have around for cocktails too!
5 tea bags: Earl Grey, Orange Pekoe, English Breakfast, or any combination of your favourites.
2 tbsp (25 mL) sugar syrup
In large heatproof bowl, steep tea in 8 cups (2 L) boiling water for 5 minutes. Discard bags. Stir in Sugar Syrup. Let cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Refrigerate until cold, about 2 hours. Serve with ice cubes and lemon slices.
2 cups (500 mL) granulated sugar
2 cups (500 mL) water
Combine sugar and water in saucepan and bring to boil; boil for 2 minutes. Pour into clean jar and store in refrigerator.
Keep this in the refrigerator and use to sweeten iced tea, coffee and lemonade. A small spoonful per glass is usually enough.
Ina Garten’s Tea:
The Barefoot Contessa’s Herbal Iced Tea is made from this well-known brand of herbal teas which are all natural and free of preservatives, colour or caffeine. Mixing it with pure apple juice or cider means you don’t have to add any sugar.
4 Celestial Seasonings Lemon Zinger tea bags
4 Celestial Seasonings Red Zinger tea bags
4 cups pure apple juice
Steep the tea bags in 4 cups of boiling water for about 10 minutes. Discard the tea bags. Combine the tea with the juice and refrigerate until cold. Serve over ice.
Bobby Flay’s Blackberry Bourbon Ice Tea
3 cups fresh blackberries
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint, plus mint sprigs for garnish
6 good-quality black tea bags
Good-quality bourbon, to taste (Bobby likes Woodford Reserve)
Combine the blac, sugar and chopped mint in a large bowl and mash with a potato masher or wooden spoon; let sit while making the tea. While the blackberries are macerating, bring 1 1/2 quarts cold water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Remove from the heat, add the tea bags and let steep for about 3 minutes. Remove the tea bags and pour the tea over the blackberry mixture. Let the mixture sit at room temperature for at least 1 hour to let the flavors meld.
Pour the mixture through a strainer into a pitcher, pressing on the solids. Cover and refrigerate until cold, at least 2 hours. (You can also pour the mixture into a bowl set over an ice bath to cool it faster.)
Serve the blackberry tea over ice in tall glasses and float a shot of bourbon on top of each. Garnish with fresh mint sprigs (like a mint julep).