Apple Ginger Mint Iced Tea

Apple Ginger Mint Iced Tea

from Steamy Kitchen column in Tampa Tribune 5/21/08

When I was little, my mom used to take a 2-quart pitcher, fill it with water, add a few tea bags and placed it in a sunny spot early in the day. My job was to chase the sun. As the sun moved throughout the day, I had to nudge that stupid pitcher.

Not a fun job, especially since back then as a kid, tea to me tasted like tree bark. What made the whole job worse was that our patio was covered with an open latticework canopy of two-by-fours. Great for playing a quick game of tic-tac-toe in the shade-produced lines, but you can imagine the frustration of making sun tea?

I’m sure many of you also used this highly inefficient, child-labor intensive method. Oooohhhh, it’s “green” you say, since the only energy you’re using is the sun’s rays? Well, it’s green alright, green as in nasty bacteria. Ok, well, the bacteria isn’t necessarily green, but you know what I mean. According to the Center for Disease Control, brewing tea in the sun for long periods of time actually encourages the growth of bacteria. The water in the jar may only heat up to 130F, not nearly hot enough to kill any bacteria that may be already lurking in your water, jar or tea leaves.

I don’t ever recall any of our houseguests getting sick from our sun-brewed iced tea, but hey, I’m not going to doubt the CDC. To borrow a famous quote from the shamed E.F. Hutton, “when CDC talks, people listen.”

So, I’ll give you two of my favorite methods of making iced tea. Because now that I’ve grown up and have reached that certain income bracket where I’m required to enjoy nasties like beer, cigars and coffee, I really do like iced tea.

The first method is cold brewed, and it’s so easy you can make it in your sleep! Before you head off to bed, fill a pitcher with 6 cups of cold water and add 3 tablespoons of loose leaf teas or 6 tea bags. Stick the pitcher in your refrigerator and when you wake up, it’s ready to be served over ice. According to The Simple Leaf, this method produces a “fool-proof, crystal clear iced tea.”

Easy enough, but sometimes, you don’t have the smarts to remember to do this before you go to sleep. I’m not great at predicting the next day’s food or drink urges when I’m yawning and clawing for my comfy mattress, since most of my urges seem occur pretty darn spontaneously. In the moments where I want iced tea NOW, I brew a batch of triple strength tea and pour that over a pitcher full of ice.

My latest obsession is a hand-blown, heat-resistant glass pitcher from Tea Forte, called Tea Over Ice. While pricey ($40.00) it’s been getting a lot of use in my home because it makes the perfect vessel for 5-minute home-made infused iced teas.

The recipe below is for Apple Ginger Mint, but feel free to experiment with your own favorite herbs, spices and fruits like: blackberry-basil iced tea, peachy-cardamom iced tea or apple-cinnamon iced tea. Just make sure you cut up or smash the fruit to release all of its flavors. Add fruit juice for that extra kick. Speaking of kick, read my note at the end of the recipe!

Apple Ginger Mint Iced Tea

2-3 bags of green tea
2 inch piece of ginger, cut into matchsticks
1/4 apple, cut into matchsticks
1-2 sprigs mint
2 cups boiling hot water
1/2 cup apple cider
2 cups ice in pitcher
Honey, as desired

Combine tea bags, ginger, apple and mint in a tea pot. Fill with boiling hot water and steep for 5 minutes. Pour and strain into ice-filled pitcher. Add apple cider and honey as desired. Fill individual glasses with ice and serve.

Yields 4 servings

Psssst!!! To make Apple Ginger Sake-Tea-ni: pour 1-1/2 oz chilled sake in martini glass and 1-1/2 oz of Apple Ginger Mint Iced Tea.

Apple Ginger Sake-Tea-ni

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Comments 43

  1. joanne

    This sounds yummy. I brew tea in a big gallon rubbermaid containter using loose leaf teas in those paper brewing bags you find in Japanese dollar stores. I use my 3.2l hot water pot. Fill it up, brew 10 min, then fill with the rest of the container with ice. The lazy way for me.

    By the way, I had to flip my laptop screen Waaaayyyy back so I could read the text on a slant. The red backdrop gave me issues when trying to read the type.

  2. Ric

    “Im not going to doubt the CDC. To borrow a famous quote from the shamed E.F. Hutton, when CDC talks, people listen. ”

    When it comes to food, the CDC is insane. They recommend heating meat to a temperature of 160 F, and poultry to 180 F, or pretty much well past when these substances have ceased to be food and have begun to resemble carpet. Oh, and fish to 145 F, which is ruinous to most species of that as well.

    When the CDC talks, I shake my head and sigh.

  3. Erin

    I was just checking this out in google reader and was like … awe… so pretty I wish it had booze and than you promptly obliged. Bravo!

  4. courtney

    I”m taking that martini! I like to brew just plain ginger, and plain apples in hot water. Now to combine with tea is a great idea. And you take it a step futher for a grown up drink. Oh Yes!

  5. Cler

    What a gorgeous photo, love it. Thanks for the recipe, I’m going to try it but which kind of apple cider should I use the clear one or the brown one? Thank you!

  6. amyjosmith

    Did you have to introduce me to ANOTHER tea website?? I’m already an addict (we buy in pounds…) but the real problem is my addiction to tea-ware.


  7. Lynn

    What beautiful iced tea! I love the flavor combo. But really, sun tea is bad for you? The whole hippie 70’s generation would have died by now if that were true.

  8. meeso

    My auntie use to make iced tea and I drank it up and I don’t think I ever got sick from it… Apple Ginger sounds like a great flavor!

  9. dickie

    I use the Mr. Coffee Iced Tea Maker for my ice tea fix. Fast, easy, and if you don’t put the ice in ahead of time, the tea always comes out clear. Wally-world carries them for about $15 US.

    Now to try out this recipe in the unit! Yum.

  10. Gay

    Your pictures are stunning! And the way to make iced tea seems easy. I get a lot of tea leaves as gifts from China and India and I can’t seem to finish them. I’m the only tea drinker at home (unless it’s iced tea!). I’m going to be making this one soon, perfect for my mint I just have planted at home.

  11. Shari

    I’ll have to make that apple mint ginger martini! I like your story about chasing the sun. Hmmm. Maybe that’s a way to keep my kids busy this summer holiday!

  12. Zenchef

    Oh my God! the new design ROCKS! You do all that yourself?? You ROCK!! No wonder your husband put a ROCK on your finger. And that picture of the ice tea on the ROCK, ROCKS too!

  13. Ann

    Jaden, that first picture could not be more beautiful and visually just “suck me in”, love it! So fresh, clean, lively, bright. Loving the new design as well. Bravo!

  14. Cakebrain

    Ooooh. I collect tea pots and anything tea-related! That iced tea pitcher smacks of “gadget” to me…I love gadgets! I just love functional art!

  15. velops

    I’m impressed with the photo. You definitely have your photography mojo back. That would have definitely hit the spot after the heatwave a few days ago.

  16. Kim

    Sun brewed tea sounds so lovely and hippie-ish; too bad its essentially bad for you. Oh, I love the pitcher! It is just so cute. Oh and the pictures for this post are terrific.

  17. Mary

    I’ve always thought that if you put iced tea in the fridge it clouds up. I’m going to try your overnight method. But my question is this–is the pitcher in the fridge open at the top or closed? Or it doesn’t matter?

  18. jd

    That looks delicious – bacteria and all 🙂

    I’m a fan of sun tea, too, although I haven’t made it in a really long time. This sounds like a great recipe – very summery – & the perfect way to get me back into making it again.

    Nice work battling your patio to make this!

  19. The Survival Gourmet

    Sake-tea-ni sounds like something I would enjoy on a warm summer evening in the backyard. And I love your pics. The one with the pitcher and the tall glass is awesome.

  20. Alia

    I just don’t beileve in either the sun tea or the cold brewing method. For any black or herbal tea, you need fully boiling water to bring out the flavorful oils that make tea so good. (With green tea, you don’t want to use fully boiling water, because most will become too bitter quickly. And oolong is too expensive and too fragrant to ice!)

    Here is how we make iced tea at the August Moon Teahouse in Bainbridge Island, WA. This is the method we developed at Teahouse Kuan Yin back in 1990.

    1)Put 3/4 cup of a good, loose black tea in a glass gallon jar. Pour on fully boiling water to halfway. Set a timer for 4 minutes. (Here is where the flavor is developed.)

    2)When the timer dings, fill the jar up to the top with cold water. Set the timer for another 4 minutes. (Here is where color continues to develop but not bitterness.)

    3) When the timer dings again, strain the tea into another gallon glass jar (or whathaveyou) and add cold water up to the top again to make up for the volume soaked up by the tealeaves. Let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate. (If you refrigerate a black tea before it has cooled to room temp, it will often get cloudy. This does not affect flavor. In fact, some high-grown Ceylons will cloud no matter what you do.)

    It’s not difficult — only thing is, when that timer goes, immediately do the needful, or the batch will be too strong.

  21. Michelle

    Love the pitcher and thanks so much for posting the link! Your tea recipes sound yummy even though it below 40 degrees here in IL!!

  22. Luke

    Alia, that sounds like a great recipe that doesn’t require any special hardware! That said, the Tea Forte container looks awesome.

  23. Alia

    One more thing: Use filtered water for all your tea, hot or cold. Chlorine bleaches flavor, just as it does clothing, and if you have hard water, the minerals make it difficult for the tea’s flavor to shine through.

  24. Single Guy Chef

    Wow, that’s some fancy glassware for iced tea! Looks very relaxing. I love iced tea too but I make it the old-fashioned way. No, not in the sun (I need a backyard or porch for that, and I don’t in my studio). But I brew a pot of tea and then pour it into a pitcher and add sugar (not too much though) and then just put it in my refrigerator. This way, the tea leaves isn’t sitting for extended periods of time. It always brews a perfect body of tea that tastes great throughout the week for dinner. Mmmmm. (I don’t even bother with ice because I’ve kept it refrigerator and this way the tea doesn’t get watered down.)

  25. Alex

    This looks amazing. We are having a barbecue this weekend and this is certain to feature. Thanks for your kind words too. Great to know that someone is reading!

  26. Amy at XING Iced Tea

    I loved your story about making sun tea as a kid! Thanks for sharing it and these incredible recipes for home-brewed teas. At XING, our all natural iced tea is sweetened with pure cane sugar and honey. We also brew and can it hot, which kills any bacteria attempting to colonize your delicious drink!

  27. Adam

    Apple, ginger, and mint sounds like a wonderful refreshing drink combination. When it starts to get hot again we are going to try this.

  28. Huckjr

    Now this look delicious. Do you have any bubble tea recipes by chance? My wife is a huge fan of them and the local store is getting very expensive.

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