MY GRANDMOTHER called it iced tea, and everytime she made it, it was different. She began on the premise that the concoction should have at least some tea in it (often as much as 50 percent), but what made each batch unique was her addition of various juices and fruit syrups. If there was such a thing as a standard version of her iced tea, it tended to be one of tea, lemonade, and however much orange juice was left over from breakfast. But if, for instance, Grandmother had made a gelatin salad that morning, then the drained mandarin orange syrup might be added to the mixture. Or fruit cocktail syrup, or whatever. Maybe it should have been called a punch instead of iced tea, but whatever it was called, the end result was always delicious.
These iced tea/fruit juice punches aren't the classic iced tea by any means. They even have the "cloudy" look much of the time that iced tea purists deplore. But what they lack in form they make up for in character. Cooling, satisfying and easily made, they also provide the chance for numerous variations.
To get you started, here's one version of my grandmother's iced tea recipe, plus a number of other tea and juice combinations. They should help to keep you cool and refreshed during the muggy August days. ELVA JAMES' ICED TEA (about 10 servings) 4 cups tea 2 cups strong mint tea 1 can (6 ounces) frozen lemonade concentrate 1/2 cup orange juice Sugar to taste
Make the lemonade according to the directions on the can, and combine with the teas and orange juice. Add sugar if necessary and sweeten to taste. Served chilled, over ice. Garnish: a sprig of fresh mint in each glass. ORANGE TEA (8 to 10 servings) 4 cups tea 2 1/2 cups orange juice 1/2 cup sugar 1 cup boiling water
Combine the orange juice, sugar and boiling water. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Combine with the tea. Served chilled, over ice. Garnish: orange slices and fresh mint sprigs. RED ZINGER TINGLER (6 to 8 servings) 2 cups Red Zinger herb tea 1 1/2 cups cranberry cocktail juice 1 1/2 cups orange juice 2 tablespoons lemon juice
Combine and serve chilled, over ice. SPICED TEA PUNCH (6 to 8 servings) 4 cups strong orange spiced tea 2 cups tea 4 tablespoons lime juice Sugar to taste
Combine the ingredients and sweeten to taste. Serve chilled, over ice. GOLDEN SUNSET TEA (12 to 15 servings) 1 stick of cinnamon, (about 2 inches long) 20 whole cloves 1 quart cold water 10 teaspoons of leaf tea (or 10 tea bags) 1 quart apple cider 2 cups cranberry cocktail juice Juice of 1 lemon
Combine the cinnamon stick, cloves and cold water and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add the tea to the spiced water. Steep until the tea is a dark amber color. Strain into a container and cool. Add the remaining ingredients and serve chilled, over ice. RUMMY TEA COOLER (1 serving)
Thanks to the far reaches of The Empire and the variety of its culinary offerings, the British came up with this drink. It sounds odd, but once you give it a try you may well want to make up a pitcher full. You might even wind up adding rum to other iced tea mixtures as well. 1/2 cup strong tea 2 ounces dark rum 2 teaspoons lemon juice 1 teaspoon fine granulated sugar
Combine, mix well and pour into a tall glass filled with ice cubes.
NOTE: One word of warning about making iced tea -- boiling water and glass containers don't always mix well. Unfortunately, every summer there are accidents caused when boiling water shatters a cold glass pitcher or, on the other hand, when cold tea is poured into a glass or pitcher still hot from the dishwasher. So remember to take care.