Recipe: Honey Hibiscus Iced Tea
Twice a month, Berkshire County native Alana Chernila, mother of two, and author of the cookbook, The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying & Start Making (Clarkson Potter), contributes a thoughtful and heartfelt essay/recipe created exclusively for Rural Intelligence readers. Her first cookbook has achieved top-seller status, and Chernila has a new one in the works, titled “The Homemade Kitchen,” due out this year.
Oh, summer food.
It’s too hot to cook, and these days our eating reflects that. Even more, we seem to get out of the very habit of eating once the simultaneously crazy and relaxed schedule takes over.
Take tonight, for example. After opening my fridge and staring at it more for its cool air than its contents, I gave up on the possibility of dinner inspiration. In the end, dinner consisted of a loaf of sourdough bread, three ripe tomatoes and a bunch of basil upright in a jar. I cut the bread, sliced the tomatoes, and set the pepper grinder alongside of it on the counter.
“Dinner,” I announced to the empty kitchen (others deep in novels behind closed room doors, working on random art projects outside, or searching for the last raspberries in the garden) and left the dinner there to make itself.
I love summer food. But I might love summer drinks even more.
The rest of the year, I don’t think too hard about keeping the fridge stocked with drink choices. But these days if you come over to visit, I’m giving you a drink list as long as a restaurant menu. Fruity iced tea, black iced tea, cold brew coffee. How about some Kombucha? (Rose or mint/lemon balm?)
It’s more than just the need to drink something cold in this heat. I fill the fridge with jars of deep purple, light green and dark coffee-black, because there is nothing so pleasing to me as a well-timed beverage in the summer. I’m tempted to stop into every coffee shop and store for fruity iced tea, strange coconut/maple water concoctions, dark creamy iced coffee. But when I make them myself, I save money, I feel resourceful, and I get to tailor the blends exactly to my taste. It’s a small pleasure, but isn’t that what summer is all about?
This makes a sweet tea with just a little tang. If you prefer your tea less sweet, reduce the honey or leave it out altogether.
Honey Hibiscus Iced Tea
Makes 8 cups
3 tablespoons dried hibiscus flowers
¼ cup packed fresh mint leaves
2 cups near-boiling water
¼ cup honey
6 cups cold water
Combine the hibiscus and mint in a large jar or container. Pour the hot water over the herbs, then stir in the honey. Top off with the cold water.
Cover the container, then refrigerate for 24 hours. Strain out the herbs and store in the refrigerator for up to one week.