Julie Alkmin, Wikimedia Commons
Celebrate National Iced Tea Month with a tall glass of your favorite tea over ice.
I was glad to find out about June being National Iced Tea Month, because I am quite a fan of iced tea. Many years ago in the early ‘70s, I lived in South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia, where I became quite comfortable with sipping iced tea the entire time.
I had enjoyed iced tea before that, of course, but it was part of the culture of the South that was comforting and almost seemed to be a requirement of residency. The only thing that took some getting used to was how sweet most people made their tea.
These days, I don’t even add any sweetener to my iced tea, but I understand that is purely a personal preference and there is no right or wrong way to prepare the beverage. I also found out the hard way that making sun tea was not a very healthful idea, as one time I wondered how all those threads got into my sun tea jar that I had brewing on the deck outside. Well, those threads happened to be strands of yucky bacteria and I never prepared tea that way again.
Works perfectly fine setting the jar in the refrigerator to brew. Or use an automatic iced-tea maker. On to the recipes.
Raspberry iced tea
8 1/4 cups water, to be divided
2/3 cup sugar
5 tea bags
3 to 4 cups unsweetened raspberries
1. In a large saucepan, bring 4 cups water to a boil. Stir in sugar until dissolved. Remove from heat; add tea bags. Steep for to 8 minutes. Discard tea bags. Add 4 cups water.
2. In another saucepan, bring raspberries and remaining water to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 3 minutes. Strain and discard pulp. Add raspberry juice to the tea mixture. Serve in chilled glasses over ice.
Basic iced tea
Many people love to use Orange Pekoe tea and spring, filtered or distilled water when they brew tea. Use your favorites; it’s all good.
2 1/4 cups water
6 regular-size tea bags (about 1/2-ounce total), or 2 family-size tea bags
6 cups cold water
Granulated sugar, if desired
Lemon wedges, for garnish
Mint sprigs, for garnish
1. In a small saucepan, bring the 2 1/4 cups water to a gentle boil. Add the tea bags, remove the saucepan from the heat, and cover. Steep for 15 minutes.
2. Remove the tea bags without squeezing them (which would add bitterness) and pour the steeped tea into a 2 1/2-quart heatproof container (like a large Pyrex liquid measure). Add the 6 cups cold water and mix. Let cool at room temperature and then refrigerate until cold. Serve over ice, garnished with sugar, lemon wedges, and mint sprigs.
Mango iced tea
1 quart water
4 tea bags (or however many your package directs you to use for 1 gallon of tea)
3 tablespoons Truvia-type sweetener or 1 cup sugar
3 quarts water
1. Heat first quart of water in a saucepan. Peel and chop mango, and add to hot water. Bring to a simmer, and let simmer for five minutes.
2. Add tea bags and let steep for five minutes or more. Strain into a pitcher or jar. Stir in Truvia or sugar. Add remaining three quarts of water. Refrigerate and serve over ice.
Watermelon iced tea
1 small watermelon, about 2 pounds
5 black tea bags
4 cups water
1 cup sugar
2 to 3 drops of red food coloring, optional
Fresh mint leaves, optional
1. Bring the 4 cups of water to a boil, then remove from heat. Toss in tea bags, and let sit for 20 minutes.
2. Cut the top of the watermelon off, and save for later. Scoop out the red part from the bottom. Place the red part of the watermelon into a blender or food processor, and puree.
3. Pour the watermelon puree into a pan, and sprinkle in the sugar. Mix until well combined, then bring to a boil, and cook for 2 minutes.
4. Turn the heat off, then remove pan from heat, and let sit for 5 minutes. Pour the watermelon puree into a pitcher, along with the now concentrated tea. Add in a few drops of red food coloring ( optional). Stir, then let it sit until it cools.
5. Cut the leftover watermelon into cubes. Place the mint leaves, watermelon cubes and ice into a pitcher. Pour the watermelon tea over the ice. Let sit for 5 minutes and serve.
Lavender peach iced tea
8 cups water, to be divided
3 tablespoons dried lavender blossoms
3 large peaches
1/2 cup honey, optional
1. In a large pan, bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Add lavender flowers and steep for 5 minutes or until desired strength, then strain.
2. Dice the peaches and put them in the bottom of a half-gallon jar or pitcher. Drizzle the honey on top of the peaches, if using.
3. Pour strained lavender tea over the peaches. Muddle slightly. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature, about one hour.
4. Add the remaining 4 cups of water to the peaches and tea and refrigerate until cold. Serve over ice.