When I plan my Summer Solstice party, I always have a festive non-alcoholic summertime drink for those who don’t choose the stronger stuff. Sweet Iced Tea, long beloved by Southerners and now being discovered by people in northern climes, is the perfect solution.
My daughter has been crazy for Sweet Iced Tea since she first tasted it on a trip through the South many years ago, but the concoctions that we find on our grocery store shelves are often full of high fructose corn syrup and other nasties. I love this recipe, which I found in Sharon Kebschull Barrett’s Morning Glories: Breakfast, Brunch and Light Fare from an Herb Garden, published in 2000. By incorporating fresh herbs—now abundant in our yards and markets—Barrett manages to knock down the sugar content in this recipe considerably.
Whether you’re throwing a party or not, this is a good one to have on hand for porch sitting all summer long.
Sweet Iced Tea
1 gallon water
1¼ - 1¾ cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons (packed) whole rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon dried lavender
3 tablespoons (packed) whole lemon verbena or lemon balm leaves, roughly torn or snipped with scissors
9 standard-size black tea bags (regular or decaf)
Place water, sugar, rosemary leaves, lavender and lemon verbena or lemon balm leaves in a large pot. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Remove from heat as soon as water boils.
Tie tea bag strings together and drape them over the side of the pot of boiling water. (Make sure they’re submerged.) Cover and steep for 9 minutes.
Remove tea bags, pressing gently to extract flavor. Pour tea through a strainer into a pitcher and chill.
Sweet iced tea infused with fresh herbs is the perfect offering for a summer party. Photo by Povy Kendal Atchison