ISSUE 83  |  Entertaining: Summer Edition

Iced Tea, No Sugar Required

July 29, 2013 3:00 PM

BY Kendra Wilson

Over lunch last week at the very wonderful Honey & Co. in London’s Fitzrovia with Julie and Christine, we cooled off with glasses of orange-blossom iced tea. Very sweet, no ice. And delicious, but like a cocktail at noon, there are just so many of these that you can drink before feeling “unusual.”

It got us to talking about iced-tea recipes and I was asked to share the version I always make. On really hot days like the ones we’ve been experiencing, my first thoughts in the morning turn towards this tea. The absence of sweetener and caffeine makes my blend all the more quaffable. It works like an icy slow drip throughout the day. 

Photographs by Jim Powell.

Above: Start the morning with a three-teabag infusion, each a different variety of tea. My vital ingredient is red bush tea (also known as rooibos). Made from the leaves of a South African herb, Aspalthus linearis, it‘s decaf and isn’t even related to traditional tea, but serves as a great substitute with a subtly sweet taste and less than half the tannin of regular tea. And unlike wan fruit tea, it still has a kick to it, essential when avoiding caffeine. 24 bags of African Red Bush Tea is available for $3.81 on Dr. Vita and can be found in most supermarkets.

With red bush as a base note, add another strong flavor, such as rose hips tea, for a rosy drink, or ginger tea, which is what I used here. 16 bags of Yogi Ginger Tea is available for $3.19 at the Vitamin Shoppe.

The third bag can be as flowery or fruity as you like. I chose Twinings Green Tea with Cranberry; $2.99 for 20 bags from Twinings.

Fill a two-quart heavy glass pitcher to about a third with boiling water to make a strong infusion. (You can also use a teapot, of course, but I skip that step by using a pitcher that can stand up to hot water.)

After steeping for long enough to let the liquid cool down (say 20 minutes), fill up the jug with cold water and stir. Then add citrus slices–lemons are fine but limes give more depth. If you are craving some natural sweetness, sliced orange or clementine make a good addition. 

Above: The inclusion of mint is a must, especially if it is dominating the herb bed by the back door. Mint loves a morning trim.

I like ice as much as the next person but feel that the quantities added to drinks in the US waste valuable space in a glass. Like the people at Honey & Co., I prefer my summer tea to be “iced” not “ice.” It may be all in the spelling.

For a floral variation on iced tea, see Summer Goddess Sun Tea with Chamomile Syrup. For a mint variation, see Roll Your Own: A Moroccan Mint Tea Primer