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It's 90 degrees and my iced tea pitcher needs some inspiration!

  • h

I was reading through a bit of this list over at Epicurious and wondered what CH's considered their most inspired, refreshing and unique take on the perfect home brewed summer iced tea? Has anyone tried any of the ones listed on the Epi site? Have you found some sterling tea blends for iced? I'm in a bit of an iced tea rut and welcome your ideas! TIA! J


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  1. HillJ, this might be really boring and not at all unusual if you like sophisticated iced teas, but I've been using lemon verbena for desserts the past few days and adore it (it's my new obsession). We don't drink iced tea here, but I'm looking forward to using this herb much more over the summer, will probably use it in this way as well. I looked through what I have as soon as I saw your post, nothing here even remotely interesting :(

    7 Replies
    1. re: lilgi

      Good to see you here, lilgi! Hopefully, we'll pick up some new tips together. I am also a fan of lemon verbena steeped in sugar syrup. Start another thread about lemon verbena in desserts so I can learn more from you on that!

      1. re: HillJ

        Will do ;) I posted a few on the Last Course thread, you've gotta try the ice cream you will love it. Meanwhile I'll keep my eye out for some interesting summer teas, this should be a good thread.

        1. re: lilgi

          I must have missed the Last Course thread altogether..

          1. re: HillJ

            Probably cause it got split from a prior thread ;)

            kay, opened my fridge today and realized I had an unopened half pint of fresh blackberries and thought of this. There are a few recipes on line for "blackberry mint iced tea", thought you might like it and I may try this as well. The link below has a few recipes someone posted, there's lemon verbena and one for chamomile I might try.


            1. re: lilgi

              Terrific link with tons of ideas, love it! Thanks, lilgi! Exactly what I was looking for regarding fruit "mash" in the iced tea. Love blackberry!

      2. re: lilgi

        lilgi, I couldn't help but notice lemon verbena which I am a big fan of...What I like to do in the summer is squeeze some lemon, mix with honey (warm up to meld), fill a glass with ice and a few sprigs of lemon verbena, pour syrup over and relish!
        It's also good with rosemary (or both herbs!). Yum.

        1. re: spm

          That sounds wonderful; I've grown so fond of this herb, used it in a few desserts lately including ice cream. The ice cream was my favorite use for it, I luv it!

      3. Great post - I'd like some new thoughts also.

        I'm making two kinds:

        3/4 cup sugar
        1/2 cup lemon juice from bottle ("Real Lemon")
        a large bunch of mint
        8 to 10 heaping spoonfuls (teaspoons) English Breakfast or Earl Grey tea

        In one gallon container, bruise mint in sugar & lemon juice, and let sit while you steep the tea (in another container). Pour steeped tea onto mint mixture, mix well to dissolve sugar, and add cold water to fill container.

        I'm also making a variation of Heidi Swanson's Apricot Nectar Iced Tea:

        5 cups cold water
        5 bags black tea
        5 cups apricot nectar (organic, like Walnut Acres)

        pour the boiling water over the tea bags, steep off heat for 5 minutes. Remove the tea bags & let cool to room temperature if you have time - this keeps it from clouding up. Stir in apricot nectar. Serve over ice garnished w/ mint. This is exactly as good as the apricot nectar, so find a brand you like. There is huge variation.

        1 Reply
        1. re: THewat

          Thank you for commenting, THewat. I'm loving the sound of both of your rec's. Especially the apricot nectar and black tea.

          I have a bunch of loose Rooibos tea, which has a natural sweetness, but I'm looking for a way to spruce up the flavor.


        2. well, the only fruit i want anywhere near my iced tea is lemon. i also love ginger or mint, but i'm not a huge fan of flavored teas beyond that.

          instead of looking for new things to *add* to black tea, how about switching up your *tea leaves* instead? i adore iced green tea - genmaicha, sencha, matcha...and if you like fruity tea you'd probably also appreciate some of the more floral white teas.

          1 Reply
          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

            Any ideas for the Rooibos tea I mentioned above? I have plenty of tea on hand and I'm kinda "over" green tea on its own. I use it is so many baked goods already.

            I'd rather grab a cirtus infusion from citrus and flower scents taste like perfume on the tongue sometimes. But, I really want to experiment more.

            I also have a big bag of lavender buds I should use up.

            So, more ideas pls.

          2. Add some dried goji berries and sliced ginger to your brew.

            5 Replies
            1. re: ipsedixit

              Ginger I am definately using a good deal already; I like the spice/heat of ginger. But, goji berries I've never tried in tea. At $18.99 a bag..not a likely item on regular rotation but I'll keep my eyes open for value.

              1. re: HillJ

                If you like ginger in your tea, try steeping some star anise.

                1. re: HillJ

                  HillJ I found some dried gojiberries at Fairway yesterday (don't know what equivalent store is by you), a 4 ounce package for $6 and it must be seasonal or they just brought it in because it wasn't available before. Anyway, the 4 ounce package looked as if it would go a long way and I picked some up since I think I might try this as well (thank you Ipse ;))

                  1. re: lilgi

                    lilgi, last night I made a pitcher of green tea infused with a small dose of coconut water, muddled lychee and a touch of lemon verbena. Just drank my first glass and it was wonderfully refreshing. The lychee was a brillant suggestion and I thank you.

              2. i love using celestial seasonings "red zinger" as part of an iced tea blend. along the lines of using a fruit nectar -- like the epicurious "apricot tea" or "fruit tea" -- the red zinger would be good with some sweetened pomegranate syrup or to go in a mid-east direction -- some rose hip syrup.

                you could make a really concentrated version (ALWAYS a good idea anyway), then dilute with chilled sparkling water and drop raspberries in it.

                yesterday i made the mistake of using all "constant comment" and the tea was just overpowering in the orange spice flavor. it needs to be cut…. maybe i'll cut it with ginger ale for a "punch" effect.

                7 Replies
                1. re: alkapal

                  always great tips from you alkapal! I haven't purchased Celestial Seasonings teas in years; must revisit.

                  1. re: HillJ

                    thanks hillJ -- the red zinger for some reason is a little hard to find. i don't know why, but it is worth it. it also makes such a pretty tea!

                    1. re: alkapal

                      I like any of the "zinger" teas for iced tea - Wild Berry Zinger and Peach Zinger are great too. I don't even sweeten them - I like my iced tea TANGY.

                      ETA: Wild Sweet Orange and Passion by Tazo also make delicious, tangy iced tea!

                      1. re: biondanonima

                        I'll be @ Starbucks tonight so I'll look for the Tazo blend. I know the new line is slightly different. The Chai has changed. Speaking of which...

                        Has anyone made chai iced tea?

                        1. re: HillJ

                          heck yes! i didn't even mention it because i just assumed you'd been there, done that ;) iced chai is delicious.

                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                            I'm thinking chai iced tea pops (frozen) is in my future...and that's the other aspect I'm going for frozen iced tea pops...I've gotta give that a larger whirl beyond the Vietnamese type.

                  2. re: alkapal

                    Finally tracked down red zinger and a handful of other CS teas yesterday. The line must be very popular in summer, I had some challenge landing them.

                    I'm going to make a tea sangria tomorrow for a party and I'll let you know how well it's received.

                  3. I freeze peaches in the summer and use them as ice for my tea.

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: Sue in Mt P

                      LOVE that idea, sue! wow, that makes me think that cherries would be a pretty combo with your peaches. frozen green or red seedless grapes might be overkill. ;-)).

                      1. re: alkapal

                        Sue, Alk..what about a fruit mash as opposed to cut fruit. The peaches need to be super sweet/floral to impart the flavor usually. For instance, if I mash sweet watermelon and add that to the bottom of the tea pitcher the flavor comes across much better than adding slices. Thoughts on fruit mash?

                        1. re: HillJ

                          A cup of vodka should fix it.

                          1. re: DPGood

                            Ha! Spirited iced teas would be interesting DPG. Just not for my everyday pitcher!
                            I do need to get SOME work done :)

                          2. re: HillJ

                            fruit mash isn't as pretty, so you have a trade-off. cloudy tea (from a mash) or a little less flavor. for tea, i'm gonna go with the whole slices and cherries, 'cause then i can eat them when the glass of tea has been duly gulped.

                            1. re: alkapal

                              Good point...maybe a fruit mash in the glass...then pour...like a bubble tea.

                          3. re: alkapal

                            Watermelon ice cubes I use quite often. The whole fruit-as-ice is an excellent tip!

                        2. I through bruised pieces of lemongrass in my water bottle all the time. I've also thrown it in with iced honeybush tea. I think this would go well with the rooibos tea as well. I've even used the tough outer layers this way, and it adds some nice flavor.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: corneygirl

                            Great idea and I have lemongrass in the freezer. Definately going to try this one; thanks corneygirl!! Lovely.

                          2. I wish it were 90 degrees here and I was drinking iced tea! Instead, it's 59 and raining. Sigh.

                            1. Have you considered keeping a supply of Torani syrups around?

                              I think they are marketed for adding to coffee like a lot of the coffee shops do but they work great for tea. I keep raspberry, vanilla and peach around to add to my ice tea.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Hank Hanover

                                Another helpful tip from HH! Thank you. I do like many my own syrups but the Torani line provides lots of inspiration.

                              2. I believe I have posted this before, but will post again. We love this tea. It is so cooling and refreshing.

                                Barefoot Contessa’s Herbal Iced Tea

                                4 Celestial Seasonings Lemon Zinger tea bags
                                4 Celestial Seasonings Red Zinger tea bags
                                4 cups boiling water
                                4 cups pure apple juice

                                Steep the 8 tea bags in 4 cups of boiling water for about 10 minutes. Discard the tea bags. Combine the tea with the apple juice and refrigerate until cold. Serve over ice.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Wtg2Retire

                                  that contessa gal has a great idea! and i think i'd like to split the apple juice with some cranberry juice.

                                2. Surprised no one has suggested simple peppermint iced tea - made with peppermint tea bags (not spearmint) and sweetened with honey. It's our standby for the summer.

                                  1. Agua de jamaica (hibiscus iced tea with sugar syrup and lime). It's pretty, pink, and tart and sweet. I drank so much of it last summer

                                    6 Replies
                                    1. re: limoen

                                      miss limoen, how do you make the agua de jamaica -- particularly the hibiscus tea? where do you buy it? is it only available in a specialty store or ethnic market or is there some national brand?

                                      1. re: alkapal

                                        Yes, do tell. All of the above posts have my attention-thanks so much everyone I'm cutting and pasting like mad!

                                        1. re: alkapal

                                          I've bought it at the local Mexican grocery store - by the bulk-ish herbs. They're deep red dried flowers. I used a Bayless recipe similar to this...
                                          However, I tried it before adding the sugar and being a big fan of sour flavors I didn't add sugar, just a little more water. It's really refreshing with some club soda or fizzy water.

                                          1. re: corneygirl

                                            I'd love to try this, thanks for posting this one.

                                          2. re: alkapal

                                            I bought the dried hibiscus flowers at a friend's herb and spices concession stall at a market in Belgium (helpful, I know), but I'm sure you could find them in organic or health food shops (or Whole Foods?), or maybe ethnic stores catering to the Latin American market if you have those in your area? Apparently it's popular in Mexico. I live in London so I'd aim for a Waitrose or Alara Wholefoods here.

                                            I first came across the recipe in Heidi Swanson's Super Natural Foods. She uses 1/2 cup dried hibiscus to 4 cups water. Bring to the boil in a large saucepan (one that won't stain - also wear an apron. It's like beetroot!). Take off the heat and let steep 10 mins, then strain.

                                            She then has you add about 1/3 cup natural cane sugar, and dilute it with 3 cups water (to taste), but I just add as much simple syrup as I want (I used lemon simple syrup - leftover from a making a batch of candied lemon peels) and then added the juice of a lime. It's suggested that if you serve it in glasses to garnish with a slice of lime. I just toted it around cold in a thermos to various places all summer. Very refreshing, a good combination of tart and sweet.

                                            1. re: limoen

                                              just an fyi everyone, the red zinger has hibiscus as one of its ingredients.

                                              thanks, limoen, for the shopping and recipe information.

                                        2. Does someone have a recipe they enjoy using fresh lychee?

                                          5 Replies
                                          1. re: lilgi

                                            If you have fresh lychees, peel, then either use a food processor or a lemon juicer to make fresh lychee juice.

                                            If a food processor (or blender), strain the pulp out, and reserve the liquid.

                                            If using a juicer, well then it's sort of self-explanatory.

                                            Add to fresh brewed ice tea at room temp, then refrigerate. I suppose if you want to go all rustic everything, you could add the pulp to the tea.

                                            1. re: ipsedixit

                                              Thanks ipse, I'll be picking some up soon next trip to Chinatown ;)

                                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                                Ipse I know I didn't mention this on my post but I'd love to do a combo with lychee, not just straight. If you can think of something let me know. I'm thinking a lychee mash inside the glass but I'd love to include another flavor in this.

                                                1. re: lilgi

                                                  Lychee and fresh mint are a match made in heaven.

                                                  F*ck, just typing that makes my mouth water ... and my nose perk up.

                                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                                    That sounds perfect. I have 2 combinations with mint I know I'll enjoy (the other with fresh blackberries, and I also have the dried goji berries I purchased yesterday (not sure about the ginger mix yet). I looked for the Jamaican Red Flowers with no luck, but with some leftover Lemon Verbena from a previous preparation I'm definitely set for summer ;)

                                            2. Teas (loosely) based on cocktails, e.g., "Mojito" tea...lime juice, sugar, muddled mint and black or green tea? "Sangria" tea... Rooibos tea with sliced citrus (other fruits) and seltzer? There are probably a plethora of cocktail take-offs you could create with flavored teas.

                                              1. I'm kinda an iced tea purist. I use good loose, primarily black, teas. I may combine some varieties and I usually throw in some jasmine but that's all the herbal/fruity/flowery I want in my tea.

                                                But, since you ask, I've got some very nice limoncello I started steeping last summer and just bottled a few months ago. I might try a splash of that in my tea when it heats up.

                                                PS I never sweeten mine and I can't understand why some people think ti's any more appropriate to do that than it would be to serve a one-size-fits-all brew of presweetened coffee. For god's sake, people, if you HAVE to have your iced tea sweetened, make a simple syrup and offer that with unsweetened tea.

                                                1. My mother-in-law used to add a 12-oz can of frozen lemonade to a pitcher of iced tea, thus both sugar and lemon.

                                                  1. I'm obsessed with Persian style iced tea- there seem to be many variants, but I just add rosewater, which gives it a delightful floral quality.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: caviar_and_chitlins

                                                      I just picked up some rose water yesterday, that does sound nice.

                                                    2. I make a pitcher of dried hibiscus sun tea that is off the charts..
                                                      Red Zinger is great too..
                                                      I am an fresh brewed ice tea addict...love the stuff.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: Beach Chick

                                                        I am a purist when it comes to ice tea.... nothing but tea no flavors added. I love it and drink it daily all year round. We used to drink Tea Java and loved it. Then I 'discovered' the Toddy Cold Brew System and am now I am in ice tea heaven.

                                                        I use loose orange pekoe leaves and get two batches of concentrate (2 quarts) from 1/4 lb. of leaves, so besides being a wonderful drink, it is also economical. Rainbow in San Francisco has a great selection of loose teas.

                                                        My husband is an ice coffee drinker - think Starbucks mocha grande (?) and he came up with a similiar recipe and loves the Toddy too. You can also drink the tea and coffee hot, but we have only had it iced.

                                                        I got mine from Amazon for around $25 - the price frequently varies. It is impossible to buy it locally. If you are not familiar with the Toddy, check out their product page and reviews. (no I don't work for Toddy - just love their product :-)

                                                      2. My current favorite is iced ginger/lemon/honey tea from fresh ginger. I make it very concentrated and then freeze it in ice cube trays to use alone or in black tea. It is very refreshing.

                                                        1. Lighter, fragrant tea e.g. jasmine, various white or green teas can be cold brewed by putting an appropriate amount of leaves in a bottle of water and leaving it overnight in the fridge. Have had good results with a white tea from Yunnan. I'm guessing 1st flush darjeelings might also be worth a try.

                                                          Alternatively, try infusing vodka with a phoenix oolong e.g. mi4 lan2 xiang1. For those talking about lychee flavouring, some of these phoenix oolongs teas have a natural lychee or honey-like flavour. Also, alcohol extracts somewhat different aromatics from the tea compared to water, which some tea drinkers might find interesting for comparison.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: limster

                                                            nice ideas, limster.

                                                            i'm craving some iced tea now, and was thinking how nice it would be to have it made and then use frozen tea ice cubes with some fruit frozen inside….. or lemonade ice cubes for a raspberry iced tea. can you tell i'm thirsty and craving something sweet?

                                                          2. I've been drinking this ginger-peach tea iced: http://siteaspice.myshopify.com/produ... ...

                                                            Peaches and ginger are two of my favorite flavors -- can't wait til peaches are in season.

                                                            1. This has no tea, but it is what's in my pitcher right now, and it's pretty fun: http://www.melissaguerra.com/blog/lim.... I must have gotten the link from someone here, but I can't figure out who. (Thanks to you, whoever you are...)

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: THewat

                                                                your link doesn't work, but on that blog (i worked back on the URL) i found an interesting concept for carnitas! ;-) http://www.melissaguerra.com/blog/car...

                                                                1. re: alkapal

                                                                  Thanks alkapal. I see - there's a period that has snuck into the link I posted. Try this: http://www.melissaguerra.com/blog/lim...

                                                              2. Not purely iced tea, but I make my own juice & tea combo by taking 1:1 cranberry juice to strongly brewed Rooibos. I used to water down my juices but with the tea, I'm getting flavor and health benefit (antioxidants)

                                                                1. not iced tea at all, but if your pitcher needs a shake-up, check out this white peach sangria! http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/white...
                                                                  float some frozen white grapes in it, too! i'd love this for a brunch.