It seems like summer has officially begun. Yesterday was sweltering, hitting 30°C in my town, which is almost unheard of for the month of May. Usually, living in Vancouver means it rains all through spring, but this year we’ve been blessed with some pretty amazing days. Blame it on climate change, global warming, whatever – I just know that I love it.
I love the heat. The kind that hits you like a brick when you walk out the front door, the rays of sun that seem to smack you in the face. Bam. The kind of heat that warms you up all the way to your bones, sun hot enough that it makes your skin tingle. (sunscreen required, obviously.)
I usually have to dream of somewhere tropical to get that kind of heat, except for the few short months of summer here in Vancouver when the weather is gorgeous. Luckily these sunny months have started early, and it might turn out to be a long, hot summer. Knock on wood. Please oh please oh please.
While 30°C might not be hot for some, it definitely is on the West Coast. Living right beside an ocean means it’s significantly cooler than in the Interior, where temperatures can get almost unbearable (even for me). I can’t imagine what it’s like in places like Louisiana and Texas during the summer months.
As I’ve mentioned before, it’s been a dream of mine to do a road trip down through the deep south. Fly down to Louisiana, rent a car and make my way through Alabama, Georgia, South & North Carolina. There’s something so magical about the culture, the foliage, the swamps and marshes, the old architecture. Plus, the food.
You all Y’all know how much I love my food. What fun that would be!
One day. Until then I can live vicariously through, well, my imagination.
I’ve never been down south so I’ve never had authentic sweet tea. From what I gather, the sweet tea down there is insanely sweet; a few recipes I looked up called for 2 whole cups of sugar per pitcher! Even that seems like a bit much to me, despite my incredible sweet tooth.
But in the heat, anything goes. Sometimes, when it’s stifling hot outside – too hot to even walk the dog – an ice cold glass of sweet tea is the only thing that’ll satisfy. I get it, sweet tea lovers. I get it.
While this tea is in no way authentic, it is a cold tea, sweetened with a fair bit of sugar and infused with enough blueberries to make it interesting. It’s incredibly refreshing, best served in a tall glass with tons of ice and fresh blueberries. Bonus points if you add a bit of gin to your glass (which I did) or turn it into popsicles (which I also did).
If you have a bit of time, this tea is worth it. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to make, but it does take a while to cool in the fridge. You don’t want to rush that part, no matter how thirsty you are. Let this tea cool completely before drinking. Ice cold, baby. Ice cold.
To start, simmer some frozen blueberries with some lemon juice for about 5 minutes until the berries have broken down and the mixture is slightly thickened. I suggest using frozen blueberries over fresh, since the frozen ones have more juice to them. Simmering over the heat really breaks down the berries and leaves you with a great blueberry “juice”. Strain the mixture over a fine mesh sieve to remove the blueberry chunks. Admire the colour of the blueberry “juice”, then transfer it to a pitcher.
Boil 4 cups of water, then steep 8-10 teabags (10 for a bolder flavour) for 3-5 minutes. Transfer the tea to the pitcher, then add another 3 cups ice water and desired amount of sugar, to taste. I used 1/2 a cup in my batch, as I didn’t want it to be too sweet (what’s wrong with me!) but feel free to add however much you prefer. Resist the temptation to drink right away and place it in the fridge to chill for at least an hour.
Serve ice cold, over ice, with fresh blueberries and lemon wedges.
|Lemon & Blueberry Sweet Tea|| |
- 2 cups frozen blueberries*
- 1 cup fresh lemon juice (from about 2 large lemons)
- 10 tea bags
- ½ to 1 cup sugar (to taste)
- fresh blueberries, to garnish (optional)
- lemon rind strips, to garnish (optional)
- In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, bring blueberries and lemon juice to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 8 minutes. Remove mixture from heat and pour through a fine mesh sieve into a large bowl. Discard the solid blueberries. Rinse saucepan.
- In the same saucepan over medium-high heat, bring 5 cups of water to a boil; add tea bags and let stand 5-8 minutes (8 minutes for a stronger tea flavour). Discard tea bags, then transfer to a pitcher.
- Add another 3 cups of water to the pitcher, and stir in the sugar (using as much as you like, to taste) and blueberry juice mixture. Chill 1 hour. Serve over ice. Garnish, with fresh blueberries and lemon rinds.