A glass of sweet tea or lemonade reminds us of porches and summer nights.

The best way to get a really good glass of sweet tea or lemonade is to brew tea bags and squeeze lemons. To outdo the fast-food restaurants that offer a giant glass of sweet iced tea for $1, the home cook has taken those summer beverages to a higher level.

Creative cooks are adding fruit juices to tea and lemonade and mixing some very refreshing beverages to make our hammocks and rockers even more pleasurable.

Tea has zero calories and contains a multitude of substances that help the body maintain healthy cells and tissues and contribute to heart health.

According to the Tea Council of the USA, tea is the second most widely consumed beverage in the world after water and can be found in almost 80 percent of all U.S. households. On any given day, more than 127 million Americans drink tea – mostly over ice.

Tea has been around for centuries, but it was in the early 20th century that women’s magazines began offering recipes for tea punch. Recipes called for mixing lemon, orange, pineapple, red grape, cherry or strawberry juices with tea, adding canned or preserved fruits, and garnishing with Maraschino cherries and fresh mint.

Properly preparing iced tea and tea punch required practice, time and patience, virtues that Americans found wanting as the century progressed, according to the Tea Council. But to those women who had time, a perfectly brewed pitcher of iced tea was the mark of a successful hostess.

Lemonade also tastes better made from fresh-squeezed lemons, but because it’s a favorite drink of youngsters, many parents rely on the instant variety. Instant lemonade can be jazzed up for adults by adding pineapple juice, cranberry-apple drink, club soda or carbonated lemon-lime beverages.

Caterer Selma Owens said most clients don’t think about asking for fruit drinks. “When we suggest it, they usually get excited,” she said.

Owens makes a summer drink by combining a small can of frozen limeade with a small can of frozen cranberry juice in a blender with 2 to 3 cups of ice. Pour mixture into a pitcher and add a 2-liter bottle of ginger ale. Pour over ice and garnish with strawberries and pineapple chunks.

Caterer DaRae Marcum makes mint tea lemonade for summer parties. It’s very simple. Place six peppermint tea bags in a container and pour one gallon of hot water over them. Let steep 5 minutes, and remove tea bags. Stir in 1 cup sugar. When the tea has cooled, add 1 can frozen lemonade concentrate. Stir and serve over ice with a sprig of mint.

Lemon-berry pitcher punch


1 quart lemonade

1 cup cran-raspberry juice

1 pint blueberries

1 pint raspberries

1½ cups 7-Up


Combine lemonade, cran-raspberry juice, blueberries and raspberries in a large pitcher, and stir well. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours. Just before serving, add 7-Up. Makes 8 servings.

From “Sangrias & Pitcher Drinks,” by Kim Haasarud

Southern iced tea punch


2 family-size tea bags

½ cup granulated sugar

6-ounce can frozen lemonade concentrate

12-ounce can pineapple-orange concentrate

1 lemon or orange, sliced, optional

2 mint sprigs, optional


Bring 8 cups water to boil. Add tea bags; steep for 5 minutes. Remove tea bags and discard. Stir in sugar until dissolved. Pour the tea into a gallon pitcher. Add the concentrates, stir and chill as long as 24 hours in advance. Before serving, fill the rest of the pitcher with ice cubes and add fruit slices and mint sprigs. Makes 16 servings.

Sweet tea


3 cups water

2 family-size tea bags

½ to 1 cup sugar

7 cups cold water


Bring 3 cups water to a boil in a tea kettle. Place tea bags in a 4-quart measure and pour hot water over tea bags. Cover and steep 10 minutes. Remove and discard tea bags. Add desired amount of sugar, stirring until dissolved. Pour into a 2-quart pitcher and add cold water to fill. Serve over ice.

To make peach ice tea: To 1½ quarts of sweet tea made with ½ cup sugar, add 1 bottle (33.8-ounces) peach nectar and ¼ cup lemon juice. Stir well. Serve over ice.

To make tea ‘n’ lemonade: Stir together 2 quarts of sweet tea made with ½ cup sugar and 1 cup thawed lemonade concentrate. Stir well. Serve over ice.

Fresh fruit lemonade


1 cup sliced ripe strawberries, whole -raspberries or blueberries

1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (6 lemons per 1 cup)

1 cup sugar

4 cups cold water

1 fresh lemon, unpeeled, cut in cartwheel slices

Ice cubes


In blender or food processor, combine berries, lemon juice and sugar; blend until smooth. Pour into large pitcher. Add cold water, lemon cartwheel slices and ice; stir well. Garnish each serving with additional fruit and/or fresh mint leaves, if desired. Makes 6 servings.

Source: Sunkist

Hibiscus tea punch


4 cups boiling water

8 hibiscus tea bags

1½ cups sugar

1 bottle (25.4 ounces) sparkling apple cider, chilled

Lemon wedges


Pour 4 cups boiling water over tea bags. Cover; steep 10 minutes. Discard tea bags. Stir in sugar until dissolved. Chill until ready to serve. Stir in sparkling cider, and serve over ice. Garnish, if desired. Makes about 8 cups.

Source: Coastal Living

Blackberry ice tea


3 cups fresh or frozen blackberries, thawed

1¼ cups sugar

1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint

Pinch of baking soda

4 cups boiling water

2 family-size tea bags

2½ cups cold water

Fresh blackberries and fresh mint sprigs, for garnish


Combine blackberries and sugar in large container. Crush blackberries with wooden spoon. Add mint and baking soda. Set aside. Pour 4 cups boiling water over tea bags; cover and let stand 3 minutes. Discard tea bags. Pour tea over blackberry-mixture; let stand at room temperature 1 hour. Pour tea through a wire-mesh strainer into a large pitcher, discarding solids. Add 2½ cups cold water, stirring until sugar dissolves. Cover and chill until ready to serve. Makes about 7½ cups. For the garnish, cut desired amount of wooden skewers into 5-inch lengths; then place fresh blackberries on skewers. Add a sprig of mint.

Source: Southern Living

Real old-fashioned lemonade


6 lemons, juiced

1 cup sugar, or to taste

4 cups cold water

1 lemon, cut into cartwheel slices

Ice cubes


In a large pitcher, combine lemon juice and sugar; stir to dissolve the sugar. Add the remaining ingredients, and blend well. Makes 6 servings.

To make pink lemonade: Add a few drops of red food coloring.

Tropical lemonade


2 cups fresh-squeezed lemon juice

6 cups water

1 cup sugar

1 tablespoon ground ginger

16 1-inch pieces fresh pineapple


Combine fresh-squeezed lemon juice, water, sugar and ginger, and blend well. Chill. Place ice cubes and 4 pineapple pieces in tall glass and add chilled ginger lemonade. Makes 4 servings.

Source: Sunkist

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