The Iced Tea Taste Test

It was brutally hot outside today.  Even the tropical plants are suffering.  The kids came in the house all sweaty from playing outside and I figured this was a good time for an iced tea taste test party.  I asked for volunteers and it was the two boys that were interested.  The two girls took off to tell each other secrets somewhere and the toddler promptly fell asleep on the floor.  She was not  happy when she woke up and found out she missed it. 

We picked lots of ingredients from the yard that we figured would make our iced teas delectable.  We made a big pot of Luzianne (unflavored) tea as our base and used tupelo honey as our sweetener.  We put the hot tea in many different pots and added the different ingredients to flavor the tea.  After they steeped for a few minutes, we poured the tea into a glass of ice to do our taste test.  We rinsed each glass after we tasted the tea and added more ice for the next tasting. 

That's lemongrass on the left, then echinacea (clockwise), jasmine flowers, stevia, spearmint, bay leaf and galangal.

The ingredients we picked out of the yard are basil, cranberry hibiscus, lemon balm,  jasmine flowers, stevia, spearmint, echinacea (cone flower), galangal, ginger, lemongrass, bay leaf and fresh lemon juice.  We included some fresh curry leaves that I bought from the Indian market.  I don’t have this growing in my yard yet, but I will soon. 

A cranberry hibiscus leaf.

Fresh curry leaves.

Stevia leaves. We only used them as a garnish because we learned that stevia does not taste good after it's been heated. It's delicious, mega-sweet and doesn't have an after-taste when it's just eaten fresh.

Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea), also commonly called cone flower.

The first flavored iced tea that we made was with lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) and edible jasmine flowers (Jasminum sambac).  Grayson said this was his favorite and Jackson said he favored this one too.  They agreed that they tasted the floral jasmine first and then the lemon balm.  It would be extremely refreshing on a hot summer day.  We added some fresh ginger to it as an after-thought.  

Lemon balm and jasmine flavored Luzianne iced tea.

The next concoction was cranberry hibiscus  (Hibiscus acetosella) and cone flower (echinacea) petals.  Both the kids thought it tasted a tad strange but said it was still pleasant.  I thought it tasted great.  

The next experiment was just bay leaf added to the tea.  We all thought it was surprisingly good.  It made a wonderful spicy flavored iced tea.  

The next was sweet basil and fresh, squeezed lemon.  Jackson thought it was pretty good, but I could tell he wasn’t that impressed.  Grayson’s description was that it had “a tangy flavor with a zig-zag instead of a whole turn”.  I couldn’t have said it better myself. 

We then tested fresh-cut galangal and smushed lemongrass stalk.  Grayson said it burned his neck (he meant his throat).   Jackson said it didn’t burn his throat at all.  I fell in love instantly with this concoction and will definitely be making this again.  I think I’ll probably add some spearmint to it next time too.  Before we put the galangal into the tea, Jackson asked to smell it.  He exclaimed, “wow, that smells really good!”  It does smell really, really good.  It adds an incredible flavor. 

Fresh cut galangal and lemongrass iced-tea. I will add more lemongrass and some spearmint next time I make it.

We mixed a bay leaf and some fresh curry leaves together too.  I said, “no, not good”.  Grayson said, “no”. Jackson said it was “okay”, but he was just being nice.  Curry leaves have some excellent uses, but this isn’t one of them.  Although, if they were used alone and not mixed with the bay leaf, it might have worked. 

Our final and absolute favorite iced-tea was spearmint and a little bit of fresh lemon juice.  The cooling menthol with the “green” flavor of the spearmint and some tangy lemon was excellent.  It was super refreshing.  We agreed that this is the iced tea we’d make for guests. 

We could have spent hours coming up with new flavors of iced-tea.  The possibilities are endless. One of my personal favorites has always been iced green tea with spearmint and lemongrass.  

 

Come grow with us!

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3 Responses to “The Iced Tea Taste Test”

  1. 9bgardener Says:

    Terrific Tea Taste Test! Lovely, Lucky Kids!

    Your posts inspired me to experiment with my under-utilized lemon grass. I was delighted at the wonderful tea made by adding the chopped stems and leaves to boiling water and steeping for 20 minutes over low heat, then straining. ‘ Delicious hot or cold, sweetened with stevia extract, with or without a squeeze of lime and/or crushed chocolate mint leaves. I use the same method every spring & summer to brew the smaller crushed leaves of what I always called ‘roselle,’ (actually “false roselle,” your cranberry hibiscus), into tea. The resulting drink is fragrant, has a beautiful jewel-like color, and is so much better than any commercially available hibiscus tea.

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