Making Sun Tea and Tea-Popsicles
by Jennifer Purrenhage
June is National Iced Tea Month, and June 10th is National Iced Tea Day.
Around here, though, we started making sun tea back in May when the temperature jumped above 90 degrees. Seemed like a good idea at the time. We also started making a summer favorite: tea-popsicles! Over the past couple weeks, we've had cold, rainy days and perfectly warm 'summer' days in about equal measure, so we've been enjoying our tea hot, cold, and frozen. Don't let summer get in the way of your enjoyment of tea.
Making sun tea is easy. Add water (room temperature) and your favorite loose-leaf tea blend to a glass jar. Cover. Place outdoors in direct sunlight (or in a very sunny window) for 5-8 hours. Strain your sun tea. Chill. Serve. You can provide freshly made honey simple syrup (just honey and water -- see below) for you and your guests to sweeten by the cup, according to each person's taste.
Next up: Tea-popsicles. For popsicles, you should really make your tea twice a strong as you would for drinking. And if you'd like to add sweetener, you can add honey simple syrup prior to freezing. Once your strong tea is prepared, pour it into popsicle molds with your favorite fresh fruit. Freeze. Enjoy. I suggest Natural Mystic sun tea with fresh pineapple; Tilleul aux Bleuets sun tea with fresh blueberries; Imagine sun tea with honey and fresh strawberries; and Be Joyful sun tea with raspberries or blackberries.
Honey Simple Syrup for sweetening sun tea. Making honey simple syrup is fast and easy. Just heat equal parts water and honey in a small saucepan. Gradually bring to a boil, stirring the entire time to facilitate the water and honey going into solution. You can store your simple syrup in a glass jar in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Honey simple syrup is a healthy way to sweeten cold teas.
What about the ice cubes? Ice cubes are a seemingly small part of your iced tea, but ideally they'll be much more than frozen. Consider making tea ice cubes. As with popsicles, you should make the sun tea for your ice cubes twice as strong as your tea for drinking. Pour your strong tea into ice cube trays. Freeze. Enjoy and impress. It's such a nice touch when the cubes in your iced tea melt into...more tea. Nobody enjoys weak, watered-down tea. This tiny detail will make your day.
Get creative. And don't forget to share!