These are not your ordinary Iced Teas and Lemonades folks. These are summer beverages that POP!
I know it’s a little late in the season for this but, I just wanted to share how much fun I have been having re-creating delicious iced teas and lemonades this summer. One of the things I love about summer is the re-opening of my local farm stand where I can go to discover new and exciting foods. Last year I discovered Apple Mint leaves.
Apple mint is a sweet mint. It’s not as pungent as spearmint or peppermint, which makes it perfect for summer beverages. I have an entire process dedicated to making iced teas and lemonades that I am more than happy to share with you here.
1. So, needless to say I start with apple mint. At first I would pluck every leaf off of the stem, but I learned it was better to just place 3-5 sprigs of leaves in a gallon sized pitcher of water. The leaves wont clog up the spout and it saves more time. I fill a one gallon pitcher about three quarters full with water and apple mint sprigs and put it in the refrigerator to sit overnight
2. Meanwhile I take out two or more lemons (more if I’m feeling more lemonadish) and let them sit on the counter overnight to bring them to room temperature so I can get a nice roll and squeeze out of them in the morning.
3. In the morning I boil about two cups of water and put 1 cup of sugar in a large measuring cup. While the water is boiling I roll and squeeze the lemons, adding the juice and a couple of lemon peels to the mint water for added flavor (if I have any left over lemon peels I add them to my bucket of vinegar as I described in this post.
4. Once the tea kettle sings I pour the hot water into the measuring cup with sugar to dissolve it. If I am making Iced Tea I add four tea bags of the flavor of my choice. Celestial Seasonings has some really good fruit flavors like Acai Mango, Peach, Black Cherry and Blueberry. I swear, its like guilt free Kool-aide.
5. Once the tea bags have steeped, I squeeze them dry and add the concentrated tea to the lemon-mint water. If necessary, I fill the pitcher to the top with filtered water. Then I pour myself a glass (first dibs) and refrigerate.
Now mint and lemons are the basis of all of my iced teas and lemonades but I am not afraid to add a variety of other ingredients to make it pop. I’ve sliced and added strawberries, oranges, limes, and pineapples. I’ve added berries to the mix by putting a handful of blueberries and a cup of the lemonade in my Vitamix and blending on low speed for a few seconds, then pouring it right back into the lemonade.
There are so many places to go with this. Add Sparkling Water, cinnamon or nutmeg spices, or even grape juice. For summer gatherings you can take the time to pluck the leaves off of the mint and pour the beverage into a bottom spout pitcher to make a pretty presentation. The leaves and fruit will float to the top so there is no danger of clogging the spout.
My family loves these drinks. We have never been consumers of sodas or artificial drinks, we mostly just drank fruit juices. But buying organic juices in order to avoid the pesticides in the apples and grapes that show up on the Dirty Dozen List every year gets expensive. Making my families summer beverages (anytime beverages really) puts me in control of the ingredients, and helps me to stay within my Wholefoods Market budget. #EverybodyWins, well, except maybe Wholefoods…but they’ll be OK.
So How Do You Do Summer Beverages?