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a primer on real-deal iced tea + a sweet mix


Sometimes there are these tiny clues in the every day that let you in on something really, really big. I love going on long drives with my love in the summer, in any season really. We laugh about everything, talk on some real grit stuff, enjoy the silence when it arises, simultaneously get outraged at some bad driving in the next lane over, relax and sip on coffee when it’s back to normal again. It’s a transition period to the next thing/destination, but it’s totally premium together-time if you ask me.

Best of all, Mark knows what I want to listen to as soon as we settle in to get everything moving on. He has a certain intuition and a breadth of musical awareness that keeps me happy wherever we go. Sometimes it’s dance hall, or it’s Midnight Marauders (my go-to summer driving album of choice), some stand up for a really long drive is usually called for, he’ll never EVER go wrong with Bruce (and he knows this), Talking Heads when it’s late… Those sweet and perfect little selections reflect the ridiculous-good harmony I feel every day in our life. It all works just right every time. Happy, silly, smily-faced gal right here.

So naturally I asked him to scheme up a little summertime mix for this post. What am I bringing to the party? A tutorial and three recipes on wholesome, delicious iced tea to keep you hydrated all the way through to Labour Day. A very necessary summer mix and a mega refreshing beverage (that isn’t loaded with high fructose corn syrup and artificial flavourings)? That’s a happy union for sunny days on end, guys. I hope you all love it as much as I do. That soft clinking of ice cubes lazily floating around in some home brew is synonymous with summer for me.

The essential formula I go with is as follows: tea (black, green, herbal or my fave-rooibos) + herbs/spices + citrus juice of some kind + fresh fruit if you feel it + appropriate chilling time (+booze if you wanna get tore up crazy). That’s it.  I’ve offered up three fairly choice recipes but this technique is up for plenty of variation and wildness on your part.

One more thing: with at-home iced tea making you can go the hot or cold-brewed route (I’ve included instructions below). They both require the same amount of tea when all is said and done. Cold brewing results in a more clarified beverage with more subtle nuances taste-wise. I love this method if I’m using green tea. If you need iced tea immediately, the hot method is gonna be your jam: brew, sweeten, add ice and go.

Link for the lovely mix is below (just click on the picture). Listen to it when you’re driving to the beach, coming home from a barbecue, getting on a plane to NY for some early summer fun (we leave Thursday!) or when you’re fixing up a cold drink for someone you really, really like.

basic iced tea formula + hot and cold brewing methods
serves: makes 1 litre (32 oz.)
notes: I’ve included a basic frame of ingredients, 3 specific recipes and hot + cold brewing methods for your convenience :)

BASIC INGREDIENTS:
6 tsp loose leaf tea OR 5-6 tea bags
fresh herbs, fruit & whole spices if using
water (amount depends on method used)
1/4 – 1/2 cup citrus juice of your choosing
1/4 – 1/3 cup liquid sweetener (agave nectar, raw honey, maple syrup, simple syrup etc)
ice (if using hot-brew method)

RECIPE 1: strawberry vanilla bean rooibos iced tea
Rooibos is like nature’s gatorade (electrolytes!), so I love sipping on this when the heat rises.

6 tsp rooibos tea or 5-6 rooibos tea bags
4 strawberries, hulled and sliced
1/4 vanilla bean pod (I save the leftover pods when I bake with the seeds)
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup agave nectar (I like light agave here)

RECIPE 2: iced green tea with lemongrass, mint and lime
So fresh, light caffeine and all the antioxidants/good stuff you love about green tea.
6 tsp green tea leaves or 5-6 tea bags
1 stalk of lemongrass, cut in half and bashed up with the back of your knife
2 sprigs of mint, leaves removed
juice of 2 limes
1/4 cup raw honey

RECIPE 3: not-super-sweet sweet tea with orange and spice
My man’s insane love of Southern-style sweet tea finds its healthy match right here (adapted from Bryant Terry’s amazing recipe in this book).

6 tsp ceylon orange pekoe tea or 5-6 tea bags
1 large cinnamon stick, broken in half
juice of 1 orange
juice of 1 lemon
1/3 cup dark agave nectar

HOT BREWING METHOD:
1. Place tea, fruit, herbs/whole spices in a non-reactive pitcher
2. Pour 2 cups of boiling water over top
3. Add citrus juice and sweetener, stir to combine
4. Brew (2 minutes for green tea, 3-5 minutes for black tea, 5+ minutes for herbal or rooibos teas)
5. Strain out tea and herbs/whole spices
6. Return brewed and sweetened tea to the pitcher
7. Top up to 1 litres-worth with ice
8. Stir to rapidly chill and enjoy!

COLD BREWING METHOD:
1. Place tea, fruit, herbs/whole spices in a non-reactive pitcher
2. Top up to 1 litres-worth with filtered water
3. Cover and leave in the fridge to brew slowly overnight
4. Strain out tea and herbs/whole spices in the morning
5. Return brewed tea to the pitcher
6. If using honey or maple syrup, dissolve it in 1/4 cup boiling water before adding to brewed tea to sweeten. Any other liquid sweetener should dissolve just fine in the cold tea (like agave or simple syrup).
7. Add citrus juice, stir to combine and enjoy!

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sarah29/05/2012 - 10:12 pm

Nice!! Your post feels like summer. I like it.
And thank you for all the ice tea options! I always drink black tea lemonade, but finding good tasting lemonade concentrate with out corn syrup is next to impossible. I’m excited to try some of these.

[And I can’t wait to check out your mix!}

Eileen29/05/2012 - 10:47 pm

Yay, it’s finally iced tea weather! I love your different fruit & spice variations. Right now I have plain mint and plain green iced teas in the fridge, but I certainly feel some further experimentation coming on soon!

jaime @ sweet road29/05/2012 - 11:18 pm

I’ve never actually made iced tea before… I guess I could say that one too many times I have let my tea go cold, so instead of reheating it I add ice, but I’m not sure that counts. I love how you add herbs, juices, and fruits. I can’t wait to try!

Elenore Bendel Zahn30/05/2012 - 2:26 am

Ahh, I love that you let us in on your car adventures;) Sounds superfun! (Downloading the list now!)

Also, great recipes of course!

Have an amazing time in NY!

Love
Elenore

Michelle30/05/2012 - 3:21 am

Ooh brilliant. As a South African living in London rooibos is my staple drink in the winter but I just can’t drink hot things in the summer. Hadn’t thought of icing it. Doh.

art and lemons30/05/2012 - 8:55 am

I’m a big fan of the cold brew method for it’s low maintenance stick-it-in-the-fridge-overnight breezy attitude. Perfect for summer. I like the twists in each of your recipes too, a hint of vanilla bean, a bit of lemongrass and mint, cinnamon and citrus. I think Bruce and the Talking Heads are a must on summer driving/flying mixes, look forward to listening to yours. Enjoy New York!

Sarah30/05/2012 - 9:21 am

Love iced tea; love your attention to method in making it. Most of all, love how smily-faced you are :) Cheers to that—S

Jocelyn @ Peace Love Nutrition30/05/2012 - 1:14 pm

There’s nothing better than homemade ice tea on a hot summer’s day!

The Pink Leopard04/06/2012 - 7:20 pm

this IS the real deal. Its going in my filing cabinet for when summer rolls around
T x

kickpleat05/06/2012 - 2:05 pm

I grew up making iced tea from scratch. My mom’s was always the same style: few bags of black tea, sugar, lemon. But I like to be a bit more creative and try something new. I love your variations and I can’t wait for warmer weather to get started on some ice tea experimentation! And downloading your summer mix now!

[...] And for those of you who do not or are unable to enjoy one of these fine cocktails, you need to head over to The First Mess and check out Laura’s awesome post on all things ice tea! [...]

Kate09/06/2012 - 9:43 am

I am a stickler for real brewed iced tea and could drink it by the gallon every day of Summer. Much like it should be.

I’m also a stickler for that alone time, shoulder to shoulder in the car, just him and I, the ribbon of road unwinding beneath us and no agenda. A stop for coffee, an open window, the right words or the perfect silence. Sometimes it pulls us together like nothing else.

[...] Iced Green Tea with Lemongrass, Mint and Lime from The First Mess [...]

[...] Morning Tea: An of Strawberry Vanilla Bean Rooibos Iced Tea from The First Mess. [...]

[...] “Not-So-Traditional” Sweet Tea Recipes [...]

[...] Real – deal Iced Tea from The First Mess is the perfect refreshment on warm Summer nights. [...]

[...] Iced Green Tea has a fresh taste that will keep you cool in the heat. Packed with lemongrass, mint leaves and [...]

[…] plain tea lightly sweetened with simple syrup, but for the past two years I’ve been loving Laura’s iced tea tutorial – especially the green tea with lemongrass, mint, and […]

[…] blend, boil and grill away from yummy supper on the porch/balcony/kitchen counter with a cold beer (or iced tea!) in your favourite cut-offs. Hope you’re all eating well, loving each other, and adventuring […]

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