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A Sip of Summer

December 9, 2016 Back to Picks >


This is the time of year that no self-respecting Texan will be too far away from a tall glass of iced tea. Some have called it the “house wine” of our state. I call it my personal mood manager. No matter how hot and sticky the day has been, put a glass of iced tea in my hand and no one will get hurt.

Of course you can buy bottled iced tea almost anywhere, but the best tea is home-brewed. Whether your preference is for traditional black tea or herb tea, here are the basic instructions:

  • Start with the best tasting water possible. If your home water is heavy with minerals, use bottled water for the best overall flavor.
  • Heat four cups of water just to boiling. Too much boiling drives the oxygen out of the water and makes the tea taste flat.
  • Remove the water from the heat and add four teabags, your choice of flavor. Allow to steep 5-7 minutes. Any longer and many teas (traditional or herbal) will develop a bitter taste.
  • Pour tea concentrate in a two quart container and add water. Chill before serving.

Once you have the basic process down, it’s time to try some variations in flavor. If you have tea traditionalists in your home (the ones who like it just black and sweet), start by adding mint. You can use a purchased mint tea bag and substitute it for one of the four bags in your brew. Or you can reduce the black tea to two bags and add in a handful of fresh peppermint leaves. Serve with a sprig of mint sparkling on top with the iced cubes.

Ready for some other ideas? Try making your own herbal blend. Start with one of the mints (peppermint, applemint, or spearmint) and add some lemon flavored herbs. Lemon verbena and lemon grass are good choices. Consider adding fresh grated ginger root for extra zing. If you’d like a bit of spice try including a crushed cinnamon stick or whole cloves. You can add these loose tea ingredients to the hot water and strain them out after the brew is done.