Ah, summer in the South. It is hot as a skillet here, with temperatures topping the 102 degree mark. So there really is no option but to make as much iced tea as possible. For the only real solution to a southern summer (okay, besides air conditioning) is endless glasses of tea.
This brew combines two favorite Southern summer refreshers – sweet tea and ice cold watermelon, with a hint of the mint that is slowly taking over your garden in this heat. Use as much mint as you can manage – big handfuls from your garden, or a couple of those packs you buy in the grocery.
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
3-4 nice leafy stems of mint
For the Tea:
1 family sized tea bag (I like Luzianne)
7 cups boiling water
A few more leafy mint stems
3 pound piece of fresh watermelon
For the mint simple syrup:
Place the water and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves then bring to a boil. Boil 3 minutes, then remove from the heat. Drop in the mint leaves and push them down into the syrup. Leave to cool. When cool, pour into an airtight jar and refrigerate. You won’t use all the syrup for this tea.
For the tea:
Place the tea bag and mint stems in a large pitcher. Pour over the boiling water and leave to steep for 8 – 10 minutes, until the tea is a dark amber color. Remove and discard the tea bag and the mint. Leave to cool.
Meanwhile, cut the watermelon flesh into cubes and puree in a blender until smooth. You may need to add a little water to get things moving. Pour the puree into a strainer set over a bowl and gently push the pulp the release the juice. Don’t scrape and push too hard, or your tea will come out to pulpy. You should have about 3 cups of juice. Refrigerate the juice until the tea is cooled.
In a pitcher or jug big enough to handle all the tea, mix the tea and the watermelon juice and stir well. Stir in the mint simple syrup to taste – how much you need depends on how sweet that watermelon is, but you are unlikely to use it all. Remember though that you want it a little sweeter in the pitcher, because the ice will dilute it a bit. Save any extra in the airtight jar in the fridge to sweeten other drinks.. Serve over lots of ice with a sprig of mint.