Lazy summer days call for Fresh Peach Iced Tea.
OK, so my summer days have been anything but lazy, but I am an iced tea lover through and through. I’ll admit that I generally drink my iced tea unsweetened, but every once in a while I enjoy a little flavor action.
When I was a kid, I LOVED sweetened iced tea, and more specifically, sweet tea made by my aunt in Georgia. Nothing tasted better than her sweet tea. I would watch her make it on the stove, throwing tea bags into a sauce pan. I always remember I thought it was so strange to make tea in a pan on the stove, but that is the southern way and her sweet tea was the best.
One of the things I remember is that her tea started off concentrated. She would make it nice and strong and then dilute it with water or ice. At least, I think that’s how she did it. I picked up that tip and have been doing it that way ever since. I use a 2:1 ratio. That’s two bags of tea for every one cup of water. I like using a concentrate because it gives you the opportunity to cool down the tea with water or ice without diluting it into a too weak tea. It also gives you the opportunity to adjust it to your liking. Stronger tea? Add less water/ice. Weaker tea? Add more.
When I entertain, I always make a simple syrup for the iced tea. Trying to dissolve sugar granules into a glass of cold tea is a fool’s errand; simple syrup is the answer. Simple syrup is generally a 1:1 ratio of water and sugar. I usually heat it up on the stove just until the sugar melts into the water. Making a separate syrup allows each person to add as much or as little as they like. I like flexibility and options, so I’ll be giving you all kinds of options with this recipe.
Today we’re making Fresh Peach Iced Tea, which calls for a peach simple syrup. The peach syrup is a piece of cake to make and it is so pretty! Remember the lemon simple syrup I made for Fresh Lemonade? This is similar, but this time I need to extract that delicious peach flavor so I’ll be adding fresh chopped peaches in with the water and sugar. And because we want as much flavor as possible, I’ll bring that mixture to a boil. Then, I’ll smash the peaches just a little while they are in the pan, put a lid on it and let it steep for about 30 minutes.
When the peaches are done steeping, I strain the mixture into a small pitcher. I love the blushy color, it’s so pretty! I set the strained peaches aside. Don’t throw them away, they were amazing over greek yogurt, on top of oatmeal, pancakes and ice cream. We were actually fighting over those darn peaches. I thought I might have to make a batch of just the peaches so that we could have more to go around.
On the other hand, you could also NOT strain the peach mixture and add it directly to your tea and have little pieces of sweetened syrupy peaches throughout your drink. Or, you could puree the peach syrup up and then add it to your tea. This will make for a more opaque look with more texture and, of course, lots of peachy flavor. It really depends on your preference. I like it aaalll the ways. For me, the more peach, the better. But for today, I strained it out and added the syrup to a tall glass of tea along with a bunch of fresh cut peaches and blueberries. Fresh sprigs of mint or basil from my garden top it all off.
Summer’s here, but I’m still waiting for the lazy days of summer to arrive. They’re coming, just not yet and certainly not fast enough for me. Until then, I’ll just take a nice, tall, icy glass of Fresh Peach Iced Tea out to my back patio, close my eyes and steal myself a few moments of a lazy summer day.
Sometimes, you just have to make it happen :)
Fresh Peach Iced Tea
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
- 2 fresh peaches chopped (don't peel)
- 8 tea bags I used a black tea
- 4 cups hot water
- Fresh sliced peaches
- Fresh mint or basil
- Make the peach syrup. Place sugar, water and peaches in a small sauce pan and stir to combine.
- Bring the mixture to a boil, smash the peaches lightly with a fork. Then cover, remove from heat and allow to steep for 30 minutes.
- Make the tea. Steep 8 tea bags in 4 cups of very hot water (not boiling) for 5-6 minutes. Remove tea bags and discard.
- You now have a nice, strong batch of tea. You can dilute it with cold water, ice, or both. A) For a weaker tea, add 4 cups of cold water to the hot tea, then serve it over ice. OR B) For medium strength, add 2 cups of cold water and serve it over ice. OR C) For a stronger flavored tea, do not dilute with any cold water; simply pour over a full glass of ice and let the ice dilute it.
- After 30 minutes of steeping, decide how you want to use your syrup. A) Strain the peaches to use as a clear peach syrup. (Save those peaches! See notes) OR B) Use the syrup with the peaches in it OR C) Puree the peach syrup and use it as a pulpy peach syrup.
- Pour tea over ice and add syrup to taste. I added fresh sliced peaches and blueberries to the glass and topped it off with a sprig of mint.
*Be sure to use a heat tempered pitcher if you're brewing your hot tea in glass. Otherwise, the glass will break. I brew mine in an 8 cup pyrex glass measuring pitcher. Then, when it's cool enough, I transfer to a pretty pitcher.
*The temperature of your hot water really depends on your type of tea. Some brew best at almost a boil, other, more delicate leaves, will not fare well with such a high temperature. I used a black tea and used water that was very hot but not boiling. I don't bother with thermometers for this.
*DO NOT refrigerate a pitcher of hot or warm iced tea. You will risk it getting cloudy, plus you will heat up your whole refrigerator for hours while the tea is cooling. If you do end up with cloudy tea, it is still fine to drink, just not as pretty. I always wait until it's room temperature to store it in the refrigerator.
*The color of your syrup will vary based on the peaches you use.
*Advice varies on storage times for simple syrup. I store mine covered in the refrigerator and use within a week or two.
*If you choose to strain your peaches and use just the syrup, save them to top oatmeal, pancakes, yogurt, ice cream...I ate some with greek yogurt and it was delicious!
*If you choose to keep your peaches whole in the syrup, I would make the syrup with 3 peaches instead of two so you have extra fruit to stir into your drink.
*I often use 7 black tea bags and throw in a vanilla chai tea bag for the 8th. This adds a lightly spiced flavor that I love.
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