Fruity Sweet Tea
A few years ago, Scott & I visited Texas & Louisiana on a road trip. We love to eat and made sure to sample as much cuisine as we could on our ten day tour. The food varied widely from barbecue to cajun cuisine, but the one thing that stayed true throughout was the sweet tea! In Canada, we call it "iced tea" and can find bottles of iced tea in every convenience store, gas station, and grocery store. Prior to our trip, I had never even thought about making homemade sweet tea from scratch! But once we got home, I thought, how hard can it be?
I'm here to say that making homemade sweet tea at home is super simple! You'll find the recipe for simple homemade sweet tea here on the Lazuli Farms blog. You start with black tea leaves (more on where to buy looseleaf tea below), a sweetener of some sort (white sugar, maple syrup or honey) and add hot water. Let the tea leaves steep for 5 to 10 minutes before straining them out. Cool your sweetened tea & add ice, and voila, you've got sweet tea! Once you feel comfortable with the process of making sweet tea, there are so many fun variations you will want to try!
The most recent sweet tea concoction we've been enjoying here on the farm is what we call "fruity sweet tea". We've incorporated raspberry tea leaves and hibiscus for a kick of fruit flavour in the sweet tea.
You might be wondering where to buy loose leaf tea and how to pick which tea to buy, so let's jump into that!
Where to buy loose leaf tea?
About Black Tea:
Black tea isn't really as simple as saying "black tea".
Let's start with black versus green tea:
Black tea differs from green tea in how the plant is processed after it is harvested. Black tea leaves are fried and fired over a longer period of time - leading to the darker colour. Green tea leaves are fried but not fired. The longer processing of black tea concentrates the caffeine content so black tea is often "stronger" than green tea.
Let's talk varieties:
There are a number of different varieties of black teas that are typically named based on the region in which they are grown. You will commonly see assam (grown in Assam region of India), darjeeling (grown in Darjeeling region of India), and ceylon (grown in Sri Lanka) black teas. Less commonly, you may also find Kee Mun and Lapsong Souchong and their many varieties grown in China.
Varieties like English, Scottish, or Irish Breakfast are blends of black teas. Earl grey tea is a black tea infused with bergamot oil.
Now let's look at cut:
When black tea is processed, Black teas can be classified into four different "grades" or cuts.
About Raspberry Tea:
Raspberry leaf tea is made from the leaves of a raspberry bush. It has a full body flavour similar to black tea with a fruity and earthy taste. This tea is considered a "woman's" tea leave - it's chockful of vitamins and minerals and is said to soothe the female reproductive system.
About Hibiscus Tea:
Hibiscus tea comes from the dried petals of the tropical hibiscus flower. The tart flavour is similar to cranberries. Hibiscus contains anti-oxidants and may have some health benefits. Of note, it is best to avoid hibiscus in pregnancy.
Fruity Sweet Tea with Raspberry & Hibiscus Recipe
- 2 tablespoons black assam tea leaves
- 2 tablespoons raspberry leaf tea
- 1 tablespoon hibiscus leaf tea
- 4 tablespoons sugar, honey, or maple syrup (3 to 5 tablespoons depending on how sweet you like it)
- 2 tablespoon lemon juice, optional
- 4 cups boiling water
Add tea leaves, sweetener, and lemon juice to a litre/quart jar. Bring water to a boil in a kettle, then pour over the tea mixture.
Set aside to steep for 10 minutes. Strain into another liter/quart jar through a metal strainer to remove the tea leaves. Tuck the jar into the fridge to cool.
Once cooled, you can drink as is for strong sweet tea (I like to add lots of ice and drink it strong!). Or mix 1:1 with cold water. Just don't forget lots of ice!