For many parts of North America, once we hit June, we know it’s officially the start of summer. Many of us are lucky enough to be able to bask in the sunshine on a hot summer’s day with a refreshing beverage. It makes sense then that June is National Iced Tea Month, rejoicing in America’s love of the classic cold brewed beverage of summer. And American’s are certainly passionate about their cold tea, a tradition that dates back to the early 1900’s, when provers of hot tea tried to boost popularity at the St. Louis World’s Fair by routing the hot brew through a series of lead pipes plunged into ice.
So let’s raise a cool, crisp glass to celebrate America’s favorite refreshing beverage…
The sunny combination of chilled tea and late spring rhubarb will wet your tastebuds for the summer season ahead. Brew your favorite bags while simmering 8 stalks of fresh rhubarb in water. Strain your ruby red liquid, infuse with tea and sweeten with 3 cups of sugar. Don’t forget to garnish with fresh mint springs straight from your garden.
Gaze upon a tall glass of this green jasmine-mint iced tea and you’ll swear it resembles a vibrant sunset with it’s layers of sunny yellow blending with burnt orange. This fragrant cold tea counteracts the often bitter green tea brew with sweet honey and lively lemon. Both tart and sweet elements tease out the delicate, grassy flavors in the green jasmine tea.
Bursting with summer fresh berries with plenty of zinger on the side (thanks to the refreshing lemon), this sweet tea recipe is ideal for a summer cookout or afternoon on the patio. Using fresh or frozen blueberries (but fresh is always best) and freshly squeezed lemon juice, boil in a saucepan then strain and separate the liquid. Add water and your tea bags to brew tea for 5-minutes. Stir in plenty of sugar and blueberry-lemon juice, then garnish with more fresh berries and curly rinds of lemon.
Now for a summer cooler for the adults! And Pimm’s No. 1 certainly does the trick! This amber-yellow fruit cups (or liqueur) infused with bold citrus and slightly bitter herbal aromas adds a gin-based buzz to your favorite patio pitcher. Simply infuse your chosen orange pekoe tea brew with fresh mint, caster sugar, and boiling water. Allow to cool and then add fresh orange and lemon juices, along with Pimm’s. Chill and serve in a tall pitcher with plenty of ice, fresh mint, strawberry, lemon, and orange slices.
Lovely lavender blossoms lend a lovely, fragrant edge to the simplicity of a tall, cold glass of iced green tea. Although I recommend fresh lavender springs for the visual impact, dried lavender will do the trick too (and you can easily acquire them at your local health food store). Simply brew a pot of green tea and infuse with lavender. If you absolutely need some added sweetness, try a touch of honey or stevia.
In the south you can bet on two certainties: the iced tea will be cold AND it will almost always be spiked! When you’re sipping iced tea on an a wide, airy Southern plantation porch, the time of day really doesn’t matter, but if the sun is high, you can almost count on fresh made iced tea. This sweet tea cocktail pays ode to all things Southern by taking classic iced tea from the south and infusing it with a mint julep (bourbon and mint).
Although ingredients like maple syrup and star anise are a bit more reminiscent of cold fall days nipping at your nose and toes, leave it to the Canucks to come up with a iced tea that perfectly personifies Canada and summer. This recipe starts with a boiling kettle of water and tea bags, but quickly chills with a 1/4 cup of maple syrup and a teaspoon of cracked star anise with slices of lemon in a glass pitcher.
Dubbed the “holy grail of iced teas” for good reason, traditional iced tea gets a Thai infusion by brewing up a fragrant vanilla-scented black tea, blending it with creamy coconut milk (no, you won’t miss the condensed milk for even a second), and sweetening the brew with maple sugar or muscovado sugar (instead of refined white sugar). Serve over lots of ice. YUM! Oh and you can add a bit more vanilla extract and a splash of dark rum to turn this drink into your new favorite summer cocktail.