The summers of my childhood were filled with days spent exploring the woods across the street from our house, riding bikes, roller skating on the back patio in those little adjustable skates that fit over tennis shoes, swimming in our little three-foot-high pool and trying to get my cats to participate in tea parties under the shade of the huge trees in our backyard. The evening was for catching fireflies in the front yard, rolling down the hill between our house and our neighbor's until our clothes were covered in grass stains, and complaining about being sent to bed before it was completely dark out.
And growing up in the South, there was plenty of sweet tea. We probably made a fresh gallon of sugary, lemon iced tea every single day in the summer.
When we sold our house in South Carolina to prepare to move to Colorado, we lived temporarily in an old, white house, which we refer to as "the white house". The white house was divided into oddly proportioned sections to create five separate apartments. We got a section on the first floor, leading onto the wide, wrap-around porch. We lived there with infestations of mice and ants, and fortunately we weren't there for long, but I loved the dinners we shared on that porch at night.
Dinner was often a big salad with lots of vegetables, cubes of ham and cheese, gobs of ranch dressing and crumbled cheese crackers. Slices of soft bread and butter. And sweet tea, of course.
And when it rained, we'd eat dinner on the porch anyway, with the rain misting all around us. Sometimes, the rain would cool the evening down, and sometimes, it would create a warm, humid steam which curled my hair up even more and made every bit of my skin sticky.
Last month, Jamie and I flew to Baltimore, MD for his cousin's wedding, and when we left the airport to head to our hotel, the humidity wrapped around me like a damp blanket. I instantly recalled those summer days and nights of my childhood.
When we got home, I suddenly craved sweet tea, but instead of dissolving just sugar into tea, I used some of the blackberry syrup I made for Italian Cream Sodas. With my cold glass of tea, sweetened from the blackberry syrup, fresh blackberries and mint, I sipped tea from the balcony in our condo, longing for the day when we have a house, and dreaming of a big, Southern wrap-around porch to relax on summer nights and warm early fall evenings...
Blackberry and Mint Iced Tea
- 6 Lipton "cold brew" tea bags
- 3/4 gallon cold water
- 3/4 cup Blackberry Syrup (click for recipe in previous post)
- juice of 2 lemons
- 2 lemons, thinly sliced
- 6 ounces fresh blackberries
- handful of mint leaves
Place the tea bags in a gallon pitcher and add water. Let steep, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes. Remove the tea bags, pressing to extract as much flavor as possible. Add the blackberry syrup, lemon juice, lemon slices, blackberries and mint, and fill the pitcher the rest of the way with ice.
Refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour, to let the flavors infuse into the tea, then serve.
Yields 1 gallon.
Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen