I grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, where summers are hideously hot and humid, so we often had a pitcher of iced tea in the fridge. Appropriate, apparently, as it seems the beverage was popularized (but not invented — see internet evidence HERE) at the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis. (Other portable summertime culinary wonders popularized at this fair: the ice cream cone and the hot dog bun.)
I am currently packing up my apartment to move, a seriously sweaty task in New York City in August. Around the time I drank my eleventh glass of water one recent afternoon, I wondered why I didn't take a cue from mom and keep some iced tea around. I hit the grocery store, in hopes of finding some Numi Moroccan Mint, which was not available in spite of this wall.
So I went for Tazo Refresh Mint (get it?!) tea, because it was the only mint I saw that wasn't pure peppermint, which can be a bit overpowering. Mom used to make a spiced sun tea, leaving a pitcher on the brick wall by our driveway for a few hours. Since all I have is a not-especially-sanitary-looking NYC fire escape, I just boiled the kettle.
I put six teabags in the pitcher, and let it stand for about 5 minutes before I fished them out with a wooden spoon. I let the tea cool and then poured myself a glass over ice that afternoon. Lovely! Later that night, I wondered whether a spiked iced tea would be equally refreshing, and lined up a taste test - one with Old Overholt Rye Whiskey and the other with Goslings Gold Rum.
I preferred the Rye version, which was sort of like a subtler julep. It would have been better with Bourbon, but you know, moving. Gotta clear out the ends of the bottles. But the winning combination was this drink plus a cookie.
Before realizing just how much packing I had to do this weekend, I planned to spend the weekend with cousins at their lake house, and made a batch of Joy the Baker's Dark Chocolate, Pistachio, and Smoked Sea Salt cookies in anticipation. (These required extra trips to Dean and Deluca for smoked salt and Trader Joe's for shelled pistachios, and were worth every single step — though they may be one of the reasons I am running out of time.)
So, on the downside, I will not be floating on my back in a blue-green lake this weekend. On the upside, I will have an entire batch of these bad boys in my freezer as I pack boxes, along with plenty of ice for tea.
TIPS FOR LAZY AND CREATIVE BOOZERS
• Tea and booze possibilities are endless! Think of creative cocktail-inspired combinations. For example, the mint + rum combination could get very mojito-y given some simple syrup and seltzer.
• Make a whole pitcher for a party which is much easier than muddling juleps or mojitos to order.
• My boyfriend was "meh" on these. I think without simple syrup, the tea + booze can start to taste a little dry. Don't be afraid to sweeten a bit.
• Follow the tea's steeping instructions, lest it get bitter. (Though take them with a grain of salt. That Tazo tea instructed me to steep 3 minutes while "contemplating my favorite eternal mysteries." I contemplated how to pack a Kitchen Aid mixer.)
Jenni Avins mixes drinks in her New York kitchen, where she also writes about food, fashion, travel, and the arts for various magazines and websites. She makes videos too. Follow her on Twitter @jenniavins