Saturday, June 18, 2011
Herbal Beverages for Summer
Summer has finally decided to stay in Illinois. (We were not sure for a while there.)
My sister-in-law and her husband were just in for a visit and she & I had to go shopping for flavored selzer water because she cannot get her favorite brand since moving to Wisconsin from Chicago. That got me to thinking about summer-time drinks. I tend to drink sugar-free fruit drinks in the winter, but come summer I lean to iced teas and lemonade.
Lemonade is a summertime classic. We dress it up and make it unique by adding lavender to the recipe. Start by steeping a handful of lavender flowers in 2 cups water for about 10 minutes. Strain out the buds and use the remaning liquid with water as you make lemonade. And that can be any kind of lemonade, both freshly squeezed lemons and sugar or the powdered stuff. To make it special, garnish the glasses with a sprig of lavender. I have also used Backyard Patch Lemon Lavender Splash Tea to do this as well. Just make 2 cups of tea and continue as above. The Lemon Balm in the tea only enhances the Lemonade.
A homemade ginger ale is simple to make and tastes better than what you can buy at the store. Make a simple syrup by combining one cup of water and one cup of sugar and bringing it to a a boil. Chop one large rhizome of ginger root into small pieces add it to the syrup, then simmer for 15 minutes. Allow the syrup to cool and add 1 to 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. If you prefer to strain out the ginger pieces, do it while the syrup is still warm. However, leaving the pieces in will continue to intensify the flavor. Add 2 tablespoons syrup to a glass filled with ice. Fill the glass with club soda and stir. Store the syrup in the fridge for up to a week.
Flavored 7-up or Gingerale
My husband loves gingerale. A dash of bitters in a tall glass of gingerale with ice and he is quite refreshed. If you want to add a colorful, flavorful items to store bought 7-up or Gingerale, try this: Add 3 or 4 tea bags of your favorite fruit tea to a bottle of gingerale. Be sure to tighten the top of the bottle back down to keep the carbonation in the soda. Allow to steep for at about an hour. Serve over ice. I have used Citrus and Cinnamon Black Tea to flavor gingerale.
Best Backyard Patch Iced Teas
Not all herbs give great flavor when iced, but mints, flowers and sweet herbs tend to work best. I have experimented with all my herbal teas, trying them hot, cold and as a syrup. The results include these three best summer-time iced teas: Rest Easy, Calming Spirit and Rose Blush. We even market them as Sun Teas in large tea bags for summer brewing.
Syrup Iced Tea Base
If you or your family prefer traditional iced tea, try making a simple syrup of equal parts honey and water. Place the honey and water in a sauce pan and heat until the honey is dissolved and liquid. Add herbs or tea bags to steep in the syrup after removing it from the heat. While it is still warm, strain out the herbs or tea bags. To use the syrup add 1 to 2 Tablespoons per cup of water and ice. You can also add a splash of lemon juice to the glass for added flavor. The syrup can be kept in the refrigerator for about 1 week.