sweet lavender black tea (on the rocks)

24 Jun

I tried a new take on iced tea recently, and it was so easy and delicious that I think it will be entering my regular beverage rotation.

Most of my friends know that my love of iced tea runs deep. As I’ve tried to reduce my consumption of chemical-laden pop over the past several years, the deliciousness of tea has filled the void. While I will always love the carbonated refreshment that Diet Coke with lemon offers, brewed tea has a lot more to offer in its “pro” column:

–(literally) endless flavor options

–both herbal and regular teas offer numerous health benefits

–you can drink it unsweetened, or pile up the honey or sugar cubes. either way, you’re in control of the amount of sweetness, unlike with packaged drinks.

The impetus for this particular tea was the lavender plant on my porch, which seemed to be determined to spread its leaves all over the place. I knew I needed to prune it down, and I was struggling to decide on a method of consuming its deliciousness. I remembered that fresh herbs can be used to flavor simple syrups (which are basically sugar dissolved into water). I did a cursory Google and turned up several recipes for Lavender Syrup. And with visions of a lavender-sweetened black tea dancing in my head, I took the pruning scissors to my wild plant.

I came away with a generous handful of lavender. As you can see, the plant in the background is still pretty bushy.

Making the syrup is as simple as dissolving 2 parts sugar into 1 part water. You add 1/4 cup of fresh herbs and stir occasionally over low heat. That’s it! I didn’t even bother to strip my lavender leaves from their stems.

sugar, water, and lavender stems stirred together in a saucepan over low heat

within about five minutes, the sugar had dissolved into the water

I let the syrup cool, then strained it into a small canning jar.

the syrup can be refrigerated in a closed jar or tupperware container for up to two weeks.

I brewed up two very strong quarts of English Breakfast tea, and added about 1/4 a cup of lavender syrup to that while it was still warm (because I am impatient). The thing that is really nice about simple syrup is that you can use it to flavor cold beverages as well! No need to stir furiously like with plain sugar.

I served the sweetened tea over ice, with a sprig of fresh lavender just to be a fancy-pants. It's how I roll.

Verdict: if you like lavender, and you like tea, you will like this! It is totally refreshing, sweet but not too sweet.

I had been a little worried that the taste would remind me of soap. But this fall I tried a latte flavored with dark chocolate and lavender, and it was good enough to convince me of the versatility of this herb. As you can see, herb syrups are simple to make, and the ingredients aren’t pricey considering how gourmet the payoff is. I paid $2.00 for my lavender plant– you can always buy fresh herbs at the grocery store, but if you have the space and sunlight, it’s definitely a better investment to shell out for a plant.

Now I’m brainstorming my next simple syrup experiment! I’ve read a lot about basil-infused lemonade… Readers, do you have a favorite summer drink? A favorite tea or lemonade or Kool-Aid flavor? A dream herb to simmer in sugar water? I’d love to hear your ideas.

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3 Responses to “sweet lavender black tea (on the rocks)”

  1. Recipe Chefs June 24, 2011 at 1:36 PM #

    This looks like a very tasty recipe. Thanks for sharing, I really enjoyed reading today’s post.

    I love sharing recipes also. I believe everyone can enjoy them. You can get our recipes on Twitter.

    Try This Pasta Dinner Recipe

  2. Jon L. July 17, 2011 at 6:24 AM #

    We are growing rosemary on our patio. I am having trouble picturing iced tea enhanced with that particular herb; what do you think? We will have more than we can use, so feel free to come by and clip all you like.

    • hopingfor July 18, 2011 at 12:00 AM #

      i think i’ve heard of rosemary lemonade, jon! but i tend to prefer rosemary flavor with savory items like roast potatoes or focaccia bread. i actually have a little rosemary plant next to my lavender, but thanks for your offer! you and julie are welcome to snip some lavender, basil, thai basil or peppermint whenever you want them.

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