This past weekend was hot. Not your normal, sticky, humid Atlanta summer-hot. That's unpleasant, but tolerable. The sun was glaring, the humidity was in full force, and the temperatures did not waver much below 105. My recent sunburn only made things worse. All I could do was watch movies: the #1 and #2 in the box office, both of which were mentally stimulating and deeply contemplative [my sarcasm runs rampant when I'm hot and cranky]. I also spent a fair amount of time in pools, and even made my way to one of my more stress inducing places, the mall, just for any excuse to get out of the heat.
Enough ranting about the weather, here's a recipe for cooling down this wet, hot American summer [which also happens to be an awesomely awful American 'classic']. There's nothing I love more than iced tea on a summer afternoon [well, fresh lemonade is pretty unbelievable too, but I'll save that for another day].
There are three tricks to making the perfect iced tea:
#1 is of course the tea [I love Teavana's tea, but any good quality tea works]
#2 is the sugar used. Caster sugar is extremely fine, and will dissolve in most liquids, so it's perfect for making iced tea. If you can't find Caster, you can always create your own simple syrup, and use that in a pinch.
#3 is in the tea/water ratio. Normally for black tea, I use one teaspoon tea for every 8oz. water. For my iced tea I double my ratio of tea [2 teaspoons for 8oz.]
Raspberry Lemon Iced Tea
2 quarts water
16 teaspoons raspberry tea [or 5 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon for quicker measuring]
2-3 tablespoons Caster sugar, or sugar syrup [you can double this if you want 'sweet tea']
1 lemon, juiced
A few sprigs of mint [optional, but delicious]
Pour tea leaves into a pot or glass pitcher. Bring water to a boil in a tea kettle [I use my favorite electric]. Pour the hot water over your tea, allowing it to steep for 10-15 minutes, or longer if you prefer it super strong.
Strain out the tea leaves and add the sugar, stirring to dissolve. Add lemon juice and mint leaves [I use a tea ball for the mint, since it infuses the tea without the need to fish out the leaves later, see above]. Allow the mint to steep for another 15 minutes. Pour this mixture into a pitcher and allow it to cool completely in the fridge [this can take a few hours, so I always like to make my iced tea super early, or the night before]. To serve, fill a large glass [I use these awesome old milk glasses, see below] with ice and pour tea over. Garnish with a sprig of mint or a twist of lemon rind. Or, if you've got raspberries on hand, throw a few of those in!
*For a fun, alcoholic cocktail, forego the caster sugar completely, and add a half cup [or more if you're feeling up for it] of sweet tea vodka.
I like my tea to have a bit of sweetness, but I much prefer lemon and mint as additions, because they help bring out the delicate flavors in tea.