Long beloved by Southerners and now being discovered by people in northern climes, sweet tea is the perfect summer drink. 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 (St. Martin's Press, 2000.) By incorporating fresh herbs—now abundant in our yards and markets—Barrett manages to knock down the sugar content in this recipe considerably.
I keep a batch of this on hand for porch sitting all summer long.
Photo by Povy Kendal Atchison
Sweet Iced Tea with Rosemary and Lavender
• 1 gallon water
• 1 1/4 to 1 3/4 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
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. Remove tea bags, pressing gently to extract flavor. Pour tea through a strainer into a pitcher and chill.