The other day, I blogged about my awesome Big Book of Backyard Cooking. In the review, I mysteriously mentioned my favorite iced tea recipe, but I didn't want to go into detail until I could share pictures of all the tasty ingredients. So, over the weekend I ran to the store twice (because I lazily didn't check my food supply before going the first time), and whipped up a nice batch of my absolute favorite iced beverage: Julep Iced Tea.
Instead of bourbon, which keeps many a folk sauced at the Kentucky Derby, this recipe uses a super-potent batch of English Breakfast tea. It takes a little more effort than your usual iced tea, but it's well worth the effort. Julep Iced Tea is super tasty, with that immediate kick of fresh mint and the sweet, sugary aftertaste of lemony tea. Check out the recipe after the jump and the gallery below.
Julep Iced Tea(click thumbnails to view gallery)
Julep Iced Tea
Serves 6 to 8, Makes 2 Quarts
4-5 lemons (if large enough, you might be able to get away with 3)
2 cups of loosely packed fresh mint leaves
6 regular black tea bags, preferably English Breakfast
4 cups of boiling water
1 cup sugar
4 cups of cold water
First, you need rind. Being careful to take mostly the yellow portion, and not the bitter white pith, peel 1 1/2 lemons. (A peeler works really well for this.) Take these strips and julienne them into thin slivers (refer to gallery). Set the rind aside.
Take the lemons you just peeled, plus any extra that are needed, to get 2/3 cup of lemon juice -- slight variations in the amount won't matter much. I had just under 2/3 cup with 3 lemons, so I just used that. Set the juice aside.
In a large, heat-proof bowl, add your mint leaves and bruise them on the bottom of the bowl with your fingers to help release their flavor. (I also rub them a bit between my fingers.) Then add the lemon rind and the tea bags, and cover with the boiling water.
Note: I was one bag short on my English Breakfast tea, so I just added one Irish Breakfast to the mix with no noticeable change in flavor.
Let the concoction steep for 10 minutes. Then, remove the tea bags, mix in the sugar and lemon juice, and steep for another ten minutes.
The mixture will have cooled off considerably in this time, but will still be warm, so make sure that you pour it into a pitcher that won't be damaged by the heat. To be on the safe side, I add the cold water to the pitcher first, and then pour in, or ladle in, the julep through a strainer.
The recipe calls for letting it chill, but if you pour it over ice, it'll be plenty cold for drinking right away.