This Is Just What We Need On A Hot & Sticky Summer Day

When people come over to my place on a hot day, I usually offer them one of two things: iced water or iced coffee. Recently, I got a few asks for iced tea, and I was like, "Are you serious?”

Why am I so down on tea, you ask? I've analyzed this many times. It wasn't until the Larry David episode of Jerry Seinfeld's Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee that the answer became crystallized in my mind: Larry David links the failure of his first marriage to his switch from coffee to tea. "What's the difference?!" Larry asks incredulously. Tea and coffee are both hot drinks, you can drink them from a mug — what’s the issue? Seinfeld replies with something that sums up how I feel about coffee versus tea. He says: “You’re not going to like what I have to say. But I am afraid your wife has a bit of a point… [It's] like us going to an ice cream shop; I get a cone. And you get a salad. That’s the difference.”

However, despite my coffee snobbism, maybe I do need to learn a few good recipes for iced tea. But I want them to be easy and fast, just like when I make iced coffee. Maybe I can even make use of all those tea flavors I have, gathering dust in my pantry! Once again, Jackie Alpers comes to the rescue with three iced tea recipes for these unbearably hot summer days (or for your weird friends who actually don't like coffee). You never know; these might turn even the staunchest of coffee lovers to the other side.

Deconstructed Arnold Palmer
Serves 4

Giant lemonade ice cubes and classic Lipton tea make this an extra-cold and visually captivating variation of the summertime favorite. Giant ice cubes can be frozen in Dixie cups or any of the popular jumbo molds.
4 cups water
6 traditional Lipton tea bags
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about 2-3 lemons)
1/2 cup lemon slices
sparkling sugar or sprinkles (optional)


For the ice cubes
Simmer the sugar in 1/2 cup of water over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar is completely melted and incorporated into the water. Mix in 2 cups of cold water and 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, Place a slice or two of lemons in each ice cube tray. Fill with lemonade and top with sparking sugar and/or sprinkles if using. Freeze.

For the Arnold Palmers
Boil 4 cups of water and remove from heat. Add 6 traditional Lipton tea bags and steep for 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the tea bags and refrigerate until cold. Fill glasses with lemonade ice cubes, then top with tea.
Sparkling Earl Grey With Basil Ice
Serves 4-6

Basil is surprisingly refreshing when combined with the flavors in Earl Grey tea. Plus, it's a great way to make use of all those tea bags in your pantry. Add a spritz of lemon to make it extra-refreshing.

1/3 cup fresh basil leaves
6 bags Earl Grey tea
1 liter bottle of plain or lemon seltzer


For Basil Ice Cubes

Muddle 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves in 2 cups of water in a large, sturdy glass. Top with enough sparkling water to fill the ice-cube trays. Muddling will release the flavor of the basil. Place a small basil leaf or two in each ice-cube tray. Pour the mixture in the trays and freeze. (The muddled basil leaves will probably stick to the bottom of the glass. You can add them to the trays if you want or leave them out.)

For Iced Tea
Boil 4 cups of water and remove from heat. Add 6 Earl Grey tea bags and steep for 5 to 8 minutes. Remove the tea bags and refrigerate until cold. Fill glasses with basil ice cubes, then fill 2/3 of the way up with cold tea. Top with plain or lemon seltzer.

Thai Boba Black Bubble Tea
Serves 4

Boba pearls are available at most Asian grocery stores and specialty supermarkets. They come in a variety of colors, including white and black. Light coconut milk is used instead of the traditional sweetened condensed milk in this recipe, to reduce the amount of sugar.
6 black tea bags
3 tbsp, plus one tsp sugar
1 cup dried boba tapioca pearls
1 cup light coconut milk

1. Boil 4 cups of water and remove from heat. Add 2 tablespoons of the sugar and stir until dissolved. Add 6 black tea bags and steep for 8-10 minutes.

2. Remove the tea bags and refrigerate until cold.

3. Bring another 10 cups of water to a boil over high heat in a large saucepan. Stir in the boba. When they start to float to the top, reduce the heat to medium, cover, and cook for 5 to 8 minutes or until fat and tender.

4. Scoop out the Boba with a slotted spoon, and rinse with cold water in a colander for 30 seconds. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of the sugar.

5. Put 1/4 of the boba in the bottom of each glass. Pour in the cold ice tea, then slowly pour in about 1/4 cup coconut milk. Drink immediately. If you wait too long, the pearls will loose their chewiness.

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