Turn everyday tea into something special with a few extra ingredients and some imagination.
By Lana Christian
Long before Ruth Bigelow added orange peel and spices to tea bags, our great-grandparents made sunny sippers with tea as their base. They called it tea punch. Whether it’s tea or punch, depends on your frame of mind, and what you pour it into. It’s absolutely refreshing on hot summer days. Even your kids will like it.
The recipe our family uses has been handed down for more than 80 years. My mother served this at my high school graduation party. A few variations of it exist on some recipe web sites, but I’ve never found one exactly like ours.
Start with some fairly strong brewed tea. Pour it over sugar; then add cold water, at least two fruit juices, and some fruit slices. Some recipes also call for ginger ale; others don’t. Maybe the fizz distinguishes the drink as a “punch”. Either way, it’s a treat for the taste buds.
Today’s teas give you many choices for your “base”. The type you choose is up to you. But know that different varieties require different brewing times and temperatures. White and green variety should be steeped in 160° F to 180° F water, for a few minutes. (Don’t worry about exact temperature. The key is not to boil them. Boiling “burns” it and creates a bitter taste.) Oolong can be brewed up to eight minutes at a temperature just under boiling. Black tea should be brewed for five minutes in water, that has just been brought to a rolling boil.
This recipe uses black tea. But feel free to experiment.
Graduation Tea Punch
- Boiling Water, 3 cups
- Tea Bags, 4
- Sugar, 3 cups
- Cold Water, 6 cups
- Orange Juice, 3 cups
- Lemon Juice, 1½ cups
- Fresh Strawberries, 3 cups (sliced)
- Ginger Ale, 48 oz.
Pour boiling water over tea leaves. Steep for 5 minutes. Strain and let it cool. Pour hot tea over sugar. Stir until it gets dissolved. Add cold water. Add orange and lemon juices, half of the strawberries, and ginger ale. Let it chill in the refrigerator. Garnish with thin slices of fresh strawberries and oranges. The end result will look like tea in color, but it won’t taste like it. You can also use cranberry juice, which would give this punch a nice color. You can substitute or adjust it as per your requirement and taste.
You can also prepare a hot spiced beverage made with honey instead of sugar, apple juice instead of orange juice, and spices. You can keep this heated in a crock pot, just like mulled cider.
Now, you don’t have to pay exorbitant prices to enjoy a small cup of flavored tea. Instead, make it for you and your family at home.