Cooling Off With Herbs
by Brenda Hyde
You simply can never have too many summer drink recipes, especially when you grow fresh herbs! There is nothing that refreshes more than a glass of herbal iced tea or punch made from herbs you've grown. Also, learn to be creative--substitute another lemon herb for the lemon balm, or lavender for the mint in a cooler. Try different combinations and come up with your own unique summer beverage!
Summer Herb Tea Punch
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 sprig lemon balm
5 sprigs borage (young leaves best)
1 sprig salad burnet
3 anise or anise hyssop leaves
2 cups of hot black tea
Juice of 3 oranges
Juice of 2 lemons
Pound the sugar, salt and herbs in a mortar or a bowl with a wooden spoon. Pour the tea and fruit juices over them. Cover and allow to stand for several hours. Strain and pour over ice in the punch bowl, fill the rest of the way with ginger ale. Use fresh mint to float as a garnish.
Iced Spearmint Tea with Strawberry Nectar
From: Herbs: A Country Garden Cookbook
by Rosalind Creasy and Carole Saville
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
Zest of 1 orange, cut into strips
4 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup dried spearmint, or 3/4 cup fresh spearmint
1 cup sliced strawberries
1 cup strained freshly squeezed orange juice
Fresh spearmint sprigs and strawberry slices, for garnish (optional)
To make the sugar syrup, in a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, water and orange zest. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat and let cool. Pour the syrup through a fine-mesh sieve placed over a bowl, pressing down on the orange zest with the back of a spoon to extract as much of the flavorful oils as possible. Discard the zest and set the syrup aside.
In a medium saucepan, bring the water to a boil, then remove from the heat. Crumble the spearmint and add to the water; let steep for 5 minutes to obtain a strong infusion. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve placed over a large bowl. Discard the mint and let the infusion cool. Meanwhile, place the strawberries in a fine-mesh sieve set over a medium bowl. With the back of a spoon, press the berries through the sieve, leaving the pulp and seeds behind. Scrape any purÃ©e clinging to the bottom of the sieve, and then add all the purÃ©e to the cooled infusion. Add the orange juice and 1/2 cup of the sugar syrup to the tea and stir vigorously. Taste and add more sugar syrup as desired. (Store any remaining sugar in the refrigerator for when you make another batch of tea.) Cover and refrigerate the tea until well chilled. Just before serving, fill a large pitcher with ice and add the tea. Pour into chilled glasses. Garnish with a sprig of mint and a slice of strawberry, if desired. Serves 6.
Borage Cucumber Drink
Sprig of borage
1 cucumber, peeled and cut into chunks
Juice of 2-3 fresh limes
1/4 cup granulated sugar or more to taste
Place the borage, cucumber, sugar and lime juice in blender with enough water to reach an inch or so below the top. Blend well. Strain and serve over ice. Garnish with a borage blossom.
Honeydew Mint Cooler
3-pound honeydew melon
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 3/4 cups fresh lime juice (or mixture of lime and lemon)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
3 cups cold water
1 cup cold ice cubes
Remove rind from melon, discarding it, and cut enough fruit into 1-inch chunks to measure 6 cups. In a blender puree melon in batches with sugar, lime juice, and mint until completely smooth. Pour into a pitcher with the water and ice. Add the lime juice just before serving and garnish with fresh mint leaves. About 9 cups.
Lemon Balm Mint Cooler
2 cups loosely-packed lemon balm
1 cup loosely-packed mint (apple or pineapple works well)
6 cups hot water
juice of 4 fresh lemons (1 cup)
honey or sugar to taste
Place the leaves into a 2-quart jar or pitcher. Bruise them to release the flavor with a wooden spoon. Pour hot water over leaves and let sit for 1 hour. Strain and discard the leaves. Add lemon juice and honey or sugar to taste. Mix and serve over ice with sprigs of lemon balm or mint for garnish.
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