As any northerner worth her flannel will tell you, iced tea should not be sweet. Below the Mason-Dixon line (and in Morocco) Southern types apparently drink tea so sugary you’d think it was mixed for a hummingbird. Up here, we relish black tea that borders on bitter and register utter dismay anytime we find out that a restaurant serves its house iced tea laced with sweetener.
Expert in coconut cake and shrimp and grits, perhaps the Southerners could school us in the pleasures of sweet iced tea as well. Or maybe we could school them about why a glass of unsweetened green tea beats sugar water any day. Or perhaps we should all meet in the middle–somewhere around southern Virginia–and toast to the United States with cool Mason jars filled with slightly sweetened iced green tea flavored not just with sugar but also with strawberries.
I figured if we were going sweet, we might as well go there with gusto, and so I made a strawberry syrup that I’ve been doling out into glasses of iced tea on the pre-summer but very warm afternoons we were having in NYC until this week, when April Flowers turned to May Showers.
On the other hand, if it’s after 5pm (that’s 11am on weekends), you might want to nix the green tea and stir tablespoons of strawberry syrup into flutes of champagne. Then you can toast to drinking the girliest glass of bubbly you’ve ever seen (its pink hue might make it seem to be appropriate only for baby showers and bachelorette bashes, but if you can overcome the color, it’s good anytime).
From my kitchen, embracing sweet tea, to yours,
Cara, THE QUARTER-LIFE COOK
Iced Strawberry Green Tea
1 pound fresh strawberries, washed, trimmed, and quartered
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
zest of 1 lemon
4 cups iced green tea (or champagne, or seltzer, or ginger ale, or the cocktail makings of your dreams)
Combine the strawberries, sugar, water, and lemon zest in a small, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and cook for about 25 minutes. Strain, pushing down on the strawberries to extract all the juices. Place in a covered container and completely in the fridge (store extras in the fridge, too).
Add about 3 tablespoons of strawberry syrup to a cup of green tea. Stir, and taste to see if you want more syrup. Serve over ice.