Today is the first in a series of Maryland (my homestate) oriented posts. Maryland summers are full of just-picked corn on the cob, Blue crab feasts, Thrasher’s French Fries, and pitchers of iced tea. My mother used to make 2 quarts of iced tea with a few Lipton’s tea bags, a cup of sugar, and a couple of lemons. She would let the tea and lemons steep for a really long time. Like most of the afternoon. It was awesome and there was never enough. I didn’t think I would taste tea that good again, but two things happened. I moved to California and my tastes changed a bit (a whole cup of white sugar? Ouch.) and my friend Paige brought over a batch of her iced tea. It’s iced tea heaven all over again.
There are three secrets that comprise the genius of this tea.
1) The black & Green combo
2)The honey and
3)The Meyer lemons.
In Marin County, where Paige and I live, it’s as if Meyer Lemons grow on trees. Well, not as if; they do. Lots of them. People are often trying to unload them because there are so many. We are so lucky. Eureka lemons are the bright yellow lemons you usually find in the grocery store. Meyer lemons are darker on the outside and are nearly orange on the inside. In fact, Meyer lemons aren’t truly lemons. They are believed to be a cross between lemons and either oranges or mandarins. They are less acidic than Eureka lemons and have earthy, herbal undertones. They are a great match for the Green Tea in this mixture. If you can’t find Meyer lemons (since they are usually only available in specialty stores from later winter to early Spring), you can substitute a mixture of two regular lemons and one small orange.
Meyer Lemon Black & Green Iced Tea
Makes 2 quarts
4 Black Tea Bags (I like Earl Grey)
4 Green Tea Bags
1/4 cup honey or more to taste
2-3 Meyer Lemons, sliced thinly and seeded
Mint springs to garnish
For the Green Tea
Heat one quart of water to boiling in a medium saucepan. Remove from heat and allow to cool for a couple of minutes. Green Tea is best steeped at about 180˚F and remember, water boils at 212˚F. Add 4 Green Tea bags to the pot and allow it to steep for 1-3 minutes. Remove tea bags and allow Green Tea to continue to cool.
For the Black Tea
Heat one quart of water to boiling in a medium saucepan. Remove from heat. Add 4 black teabags to the saucepan and allow it to steep for about 5 minutes. Remove tea bags and allow black to continue to cool.
While both teas are still a bit warm, pour them into a glass pitcher. Add honey and stir to dissolve and mix. Add half of the lemon slices, reserving the other lemon slices for garnish.
Fill glasses with ice, add the tea and garnish with lemon slices and mint sprigs (optional).