Similar to how a great cocktail goes beyond just the liquor, a memorable flavored iced tea doesn't stop with the tea itself. Create an exotic, attractive iced tea by adding farmers market finds like fresh herbs, local honey, and seasonal fruit to the prepared batch. The mix of vibrant colors instantly brightens a table setting, especially at Summer festivities, and the unusual flavors will inspire guests to beg for refills.
- Sweeteners: Instead of the neutral-flavored white sugar, sweeten tea with rich, floral honey. Dissolve honey in the tea while it's still hot or else it will just settle at the bottom of the pitcher. For special occasions, experiment with more expensive local honeys. The flavor profile of honeys cultivated by smaller, independent beekeepers is startlingly more complex than conventional honey. The flowers that the bees are gathering pollen from will determine the flavor, clarity, and sweetness of the honey, whether it's clover or orange blossom honey.
- Edible flowers: Fresh edible flowers like chamomile, honeysuckle, jasmine, lavender, lilac, rose, and violet impart a sweet, nectarlike flavor to teas, which is why many of these flowers are used to create scented or flavor-infused teas. If you don't have edible flowers, try a splash of rose water or orange blossom water after the tea is brewed.
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- Citrus slices: Grapefruit, orange, lemon, and lime are just a few citrus fruits to slice up. Garnish glasses with wedges, thin wheels, twists, or other cocktail garnish cuts. For something more exotic, try kumquats, the petite, tart citrus fruit often used in iced teas found in Asian countries.
- Fresh herbs: Rosemary, mint, sage, and basil can be added to the glass as a garnish. For a more intense flavor, brew the herbs with the tea itself or infuse them in a flavored simple syrup.
- Fruit juices: Pretty much anything goes, but tart varieties like cherry, pomegranate, cranberry, and lemonade complement the tannins in the tea and offer a crisp, refreshing finish. Try freezing fruit juice in ice cube trays so the flavor of the tea doesn't dilute as the ice melts.
What are your top choices for iced tea mix-ins?