Saturday, September 5, 2009

Mary’s Mint Infused Southern Sweet Iced Tea

Southern sweet iced tea, infused with fresh mint.

Mint Infused Southern Sweet Iced Tea

I cannot believe that Labor Day, the unofficial end of summer, has just about arrived! Is it just me, or did it seem that the summer pretty much flew by this year?

This year was the first year that I grew mint in my garden and I have to say that I have really enjoyed it. Now, yes, I did heed the warnings about growing it in a container so that it would not grow wild and take over the garden, though I did also think what a fragrant ground cover that would be!

Now I admit, more than a few of those mint leaves might have been harvested more so for a mojito here and there than for anything else, but, I also do love a good minted iced tea.  This recipe is basically my Southern Style Sweet Iced Tea, except with an added infusion of mint, but the mint is just enough for a subtle hint without over-powering the real star here, the southern sweet iced tea.  You can, of course, use as much mint as you like.

You may also add freshly squeezed lemons and a can of orange juice concentrate to turn it into a Southern French Mint Iced Tea. Either way, what a great way to honor the unofficial end of summer!

Recipe: Mary’s Mint Infused Southern Sweet Iced Tea

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 10 min |Inactive time: 45 min | Yield: 1/2 gallon (8 servings)

  • 5 to 7 individual Luzianne brand tea bags
  • 1 quart of cool filtered or bottled water
  • 1 (4-cup) glass Pyrex measuring cup for steeping
  • 1 cup of loosely packed mint leaves
  • 2 quart glass pitcher filled with ice
  • 1 to 1-1/2 cups of granulated sugar, more or less to taste
  • Fresh lemon wedges and mint sprigs, to garnish

Grab a pot and pour in one quart of cool filtered or bottled water, bringing to a full, rolling boil. For a milder tea, use 5 bags; for a more robust tea, go with 7. Put the mint leaves in the bottom of your steeping vehicle - I like to use a 4-cup Pyrex measuring cup to steep my tea in. With the handle of a wooden spoon, muddle the mint leaves a bit just to begin releasing the oils. Spin the tea bags so all the strings wrap together and set them inside a 4-cup glass Pyrex measuring cup with the tags hanging on the outside.

Pour boiling water into the container and dip the tea bags in and out to begin releasing the tea leaves. Stick a plate or some kind of a cover on top and set the timer for exactly 9 minutes; let the tea bags steep. Do not go longer than 9 minutes or you risk burning your tea leaves and will end up with a bitter tea.

After the steeping time is up, take a wooden spoon and press the tea bags up against the side of the container and toss the tea bags into your compost pot. Leave the mint leaves in there though. Replace cover and let the tea steep with the mint for at least 45 minutes.

After that period of time, stir, strain the tea, and put the mint leaves in your compost.  Mix the sugar into the warm tea and stir until dissolved. Fill a glass pitcher with ice and slowly pour the infused tea over the ice. Stir well.

Fill glasses with ice, pour tea over top, garnish with a sprig of mint leaves and a nice juicy wedge of lemon. Makes 2 quarts.

Southern French Mint Tea: Use 8 teabags and a 1 gallon pitcher. After you have removed the tea bags, steeped the mint leaves alone, and then strained them out, add the sugar and stir until dissolved. Squeeze in the juice of 4 lemons and add in 1 (12 ounce) can of thawed, unsweetened frozen orange juice concentrate.  Mix until everything is well blended.  Fill pitcher halfway with ice and pour tea mixture over the ice, add water as needed to make a gallon. Garnish individual glasses with orange slices and mint springs.

Tea Tips:

1. For perfect tea always start with fresh filtered cool water - never tap water!

2. Cloudiness is often caused by putting hot or still warm tea directly into a cold refrigerator. My method prevents this since you are pouring your steeped tea directly over ice cubes.

2. Bitterness in tea is caused by overcooking and burning the tea leaves - that is why it is important not to boil the teabags and not to steep them too long in boiling water. To counter, a pinch of baking soda - only about 1/8 of a teaspoon - can be added to the hot, steeped tea after you remove the bags and strain the mint leaves out. It will not affect the taste of your tea, and provides insurance against bitterness.

3. Use wooden spoons to squeeze your tea bags, a glass container - like a large Pyrex measuring cup - to steep your tea, and store it in a glass pitcher, not metal or plastic. After all that it seems proper to serve it in a tall, iced tea glass and not plastic, but that's up to you!

4. If you prefer your sweetened tea more on the sweet side, you'll probably want to go with 1-1/2 cups of sugar.

5. Of course, substitute artificial sweetener per glass, or use one Splenda Quick Pack for the entire pitcher, if you don't want to use sugar.


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©Deep South Dish
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Posted by on September 5, 2009
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