Savoring Summer Iced Teas

You may be surprised at how refreshing it can be to let yourself get a little crazy with the iced tea brews.

| August/September 1999

  • Photography by Anybody Goes
  • The garden’s bounty yields myriad possibilities for iced tea, including roses, hibiscus, parsley, sage, basil, lavender, and bee balm.
  • Rose petal iced tea, served with scones and rose hip jam, makes a refreshing late-summer afternoon treat.

Herbal tea recipes:


When winter’s winds are howling and snow piles up at the door, we don’t hesitate to make a steaming cup of herbal tea to warm our spirits. For many people, summer’s hot, humid days instill a desire for its equivalent: a cooling glass of iced herbal tea. Creating herbal iced teas is no more difficult than preparing hot ones. It’s just a matter of brewing and chilling a double-strength hot tea or steeping herbs in water for several hours in the refrigerator.

With the summer garden at its peak, there are plenty of fresh herbs to choose from to make iced tea. Some herbs immediately spring to mind: the mints, lemon balm, and lemon ­verbena. There certainly are others, including some of the familiar culinary herbs, that provide cooling refreshment as the temperatures soar (or even as they subside).

Mint is an obvious choice. The Roman naturalist Pliny wrote that “the very smell of it reanimates the spirit.” Drinking mint tea is reputed to improve one’s mood, relax the nerves, and calm the digestive system. Peppermints, spearmints, and fruit-flavored mints all can be used to make delicious, refreshing iced teas, but dozens of cultivars in each category are available. To make choosing among them even more difficult, flavor can vary from plant to plant: your neighbor’s orange mint may yield a tea that tastes quite different from the tea you make from your own plants.

Pungent bee balm (Monarda didyma) and hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis), both members of the mint family, add depth to a mint tea, and their lovely flowers make a delightful garnish to a frosty glass.

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