Iced tea and lemonade were served at lunch and supper, as well as for midafternoon breaks. They were always made from scratch. Drinks from powdered mixes were unacceptable.
I live in the Northeast now, but I still love to make icy-cold drinks as soon as the weather turns warm. Two of my favorites are Julep Iced Tea and Old-Fashioned Lemonade. The first is a new recipe that a fellow Southerner shared with me. The other is a variation on an old family recipe.
Julep Iced Tea, created by Mississippian Lynn Wilkins, takes its name from the famous mint julep. Like the mint julep, this thirst-quenching drink is prepared by combining crushed mint leaves with sugar. But strong brewed tea and freshly squeezed lemon juice replace the conventional bourbon.
The delectable lemonade consists of a sugar-syrup base blended with lemon and lime juices infused with mint leaves and combined with water.
Both drinks can be made several days ahead and kept on hand in the refrigerator. Either would make a perfect refreshment to enjoy when friends stop by, either invited or unannounced, or just to help stave off summer's heat.
Julep Iced Tea
Makes 2 quarts (serves 6 to 8)
4 or 5 lemons
2 cups loosely packed fresh mint leaves
6 black-tea bags, preferably English breakfast tea
1 cup sugar
Fresh mint sprigs, for garnish (optional)
1. With a sharp paring knife or vegetable peeler, carefully remove the rind from 1 1/2 lemons. (Cut away just the colored part of the rind and not the bitter white pith beneath.) Cut the rind into thin strips and set aside. Juice enough of the lemons to yield 2/3 cup; set aside.
2. Place the 2 cups mint leaves in a large, heat-safe glass bowl or measuring cup. Using your fingers, rub the leaves against the bottom of the bowl to bruise and break them and help release the flavor. Add the lemon rind and tea bags and cover with 4 cups boiling water. Steep for 10 minutes.
3. Remove the tea bags. Stir in the sugar and lemon juice and steep another 10 minutes.
4. Strain mixture into a glass pitcher. Add 4 cups cold water. Cover and refrigerate until chilled.
5. To serve, pour the tea over ice cubes in tall glasses. Garnish with a mint sprig, if desired.
Per serving: 99 calories, no protein, 26 grams carbohydrates, 24 grams sugar, no fat, no cholesterol, 0.5 milligram sodium, no fiber.
Makes 12 servings
2 cups sugar
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about 6 lemons)
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (from 2 or 3 limes)
3/4 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
Fresh mint sprigs for garnish (optional)
Thin lemon slices for garnish (optional)
1. Combine 2 1/2 cups water and the sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves, then simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for 20 minutes.
2. Stir in the lemon and lime juices. Place the 3/4 cup mint leaves in a medium non-aluminum bowl and pour the lemon-lime mixture over them. Let stand for 1 hour.
3. Strain this lemonade base into a jar. Cover and refrigerate. (It will stay fresh about 4 days.)
4. To serve, pour 1/3 cup lemonade base into a glass. Stir in 2/3 cup water. Fill the glass with ice cubes and garnish with a mint sprig and a lemon slice, if desired.
Per serving: 130 calories, no protein, 34 grams carbohydrates, 32 grams sugar, no fat, no cholesterol, 0.6 milligram sodium, no fiber.