A couple of years ago I tried to make homemade iced tea from a recipe at the Hillbilly Housewife web site. Tea, sugar, and lemons were relatively inexpensive, and they were also easy to store in large quantity. This meant we had an easy drink for summer that wouldn’t require frequent trips to the grocery store, and it also wouldn’t break the bank.
The problem is, the recipe was hit and miss. Sometimes we left the tea a little too long, and it would be too bitter. Sometimes the sugar didn’t dissolve right, and there would be a nasty sludge in the bottom of the jug. And if we didn’t drink it fast enough (which happened whenever the kids decided it didn’t taste enough like the powdered stuff) the darned stuff would start to ferment in the fridge!
I have a new recipe for iced tea this summer, thanks to one of our local tea vendors. She had a vat of it made up for the Canada Day celebrations, and even the kids approved. It’s quick and easy to make, and there’s no mess from juicing lemons, measuring sugar, and all that other stuff. You may know this recipe as an “Arnold Palmer” or a “half and half,” depending on where you live. If you haven’t tried it yet, do make up a batch with your favourite tea. It’s a real crowd pleaser!
Easy Homemade Iced Tea Recipe
1 part strong black tea, steeped four minutes
1 part lemonade
sugar or honey for extra sweetness (optional)
Just brew up the tea and mix it with your lemonade. If it isn’t quite sweet enough you can add sugar, honey, agave syrup or whatever sweetener you prefer. But if your lemonade was already sweetened, do taste before adding any sweetening.
If you want to cool the drink quickly, freeze a little of the lemonade in an ice cube tray earlier in the day. Pop those cubes into the warm tea, and then tuck your jug of iced tea into the fridge for about a half hour.
Choice of Lemonade for Your Arnold Palmer Iced Tea
You can use homemade or bottled lemonade for this recipe. You can also mix it up from frozen concentrate, which I find really convenient. Putting the frozen concentrate directly into the warm tea helps to cool it faster. Just remember you also have to add water to dilute the concentrate!
Another option is to substitute a little grapefruit or lime juice for some of the lemonade. Grapefruit is the “secret ingredient” in the California iced tea blends I’ve enjoyed in the past, so even if you aren’t a big fan of grapefruit don’t turn your nose up at this variation without first giving it a try!
You can use a commercial limeade or citrus punch if you want to experiment with a tropical iced tea. And if you’re really adventurous, try a completely different fruit juice like raspberry or peach. If the folks at Snapple and Arizona can have a whole line of flavoured iced teas, you can surely find a few blends your family will enjoy! (Or just start with one of their bottled teas, and add lemonade to it!)
If you like bubbles, substitute soda water for a little of the water in your tea or lemonade. Or use your favourite citrus soda instead of the lemonade.
What Kind of Tea to Use
Choose any tea you like for the base – whether it be your everyday orange pekoe, a flavoured tea, or an herbal blend like Celestial Seasonings Chamomile & Lavender, or Ginger & Turmeric. My absolute favourite version of this recipe was made with a lovely orange cream Early Grey that I bought from The Curling Leaf.
Of course both green and white teas will also work, instead of a black tea.
How do you take your iced tea? I’d love to hear about your preferred iced tea blends, and if you decide to try this recipe please let me know how it turns out!
This is an expanded version of an earlier piece I published on Bubblews (now defunct) in July 2013