At this time of the year when many wine drinkers turn to indisputably quaffable wines (Read: “rosé”), I turn to drinking tall glasses of iced tea. But not just any iced tea. My version of choice involves lightly brewed delicate white tea flavored with the fleeting berries of summer, requiring nothing artificial, synthetic or nature-equivalent. It’s just pure berry flavor. Choose whichever berries are best in your area—red or black raspberries, blackberries, loganberries, boysenberries, ollalieberries. In truth, everything but blueberries will work; they don’t release a flavorful liquid when pureed. You can use a combination of a few kinds if you’d like.
The method is simple and doesn’t vary no matter which berries you are using. Use 1 quart of the most fragrant berries you can find per quart of cold brewed tea. Puree the berries and then place in a medium-fine sieve over a stainless steel bowl or other container that fits nicely under your sieve with a few inches of clearance between the bottom of the sieve and the bowl. Stir a few times and then allow the mixture to drain of its own accord at cool room temperature for a few hours or–if the kitchen is hot–place the whole assembly into the refrigerator for a few hours.
Brew a quart of white tea using the cold brew method overnight if you can be leisurely about it, placing the loose leaves into a clean glass carafe. I use 20 grams of tea leaves per quart of good quality water. Lest I run out, as I note the amount of brewed tea in the refrigerator dwindling, I set up another cold brew and allow it to brew slowly and lazily, for at least 24 hours in the fridge, even for as much as two days before sieving out the spent leaves.
Once the berry juice has finished dripping into the bowl, combine this flavorful liquid with the brewed tea, discarding the pureed mixture. Chill further if you’d like. I tend to serve this neat in chilled glasses sweetened to taste with a simple sugar syrup (boil equal parts by weight of sugar and water until dissolved and then cook further until it has the consistency of maple syrup, then chill and store in the refrigerator in a covered glass jar). I feel ice dilutes the delicacy of the drink.
Place some berries in the freezer in a single layer and freeze for a couple of hours. Use as a garnish, throwing a few of them into each tall glass. Then say a collective “Aah” as you enjoy the drink. All together now…..
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