I’ve always had this fantasy of living in a large home, maybe somewhere in the South—one of the Carolinas for sure, I’m thinking North—with a big patio or wrap around porch. In my fantasy, I’m drinking iced tea on said porch or patio, on a hot summer’s day. Heavy on the iced part because I don’t do well in the heat. I’m lounging on a chair and just drinking my tea enjoying the passing days. Waving at a few neighbors that walk on by. I may or may not speak with a Southern drawl in my fantasy, I haven’t decided yet (but you better believe I’ve been practicing it). This is where I’d plot all my villainous schemes. I’d invite my enemies over for some iced tea, all the while planning out ways on how to backstab them….wait, that’s not my fantasy. I think I’ve been watching way too much House of Cards lately. I get confused. Kevin Spacey is teaching me all the wrong ways of life, you can’t blame me.
Now try not to judge me too much, but this is actually the first time I’ve ever made iced tea before. Like ever in my life. I can’t really say I’m an iced tea expert per say. I’m far from a tea pro so I had to do a little research (and by a little, I of course mean a lot). My google searches were something like, “How to make basic iced tea?” “How long do I steep tea bags in iced tea?” and “Fool proof iced tea recipes to win contests and major prizes.” That last one didn’t bring me any hits, but you can’t blame a guy for trying. I had to come up with my own recipe.
Iced tea is one of those things that I always drink at other people’s homes or at restaurants, but have never really thought about making it myself. I don’t know why, I guess I always just assumed it was too difficult to make. Something about boiling water and making tea, scared me. I have a phobia of boiling water. I don’t have a phobia of boiling water, it’s a joke (someone please laugh). I was wrong though. It’s actually really easy to make iced tea. The best part is that you can add all kinds of awesome flavorings to it, and make it so much better than just plain boring iced tea. Don’t get me wrong, plain and boring iced tea is still a favorite of mine, but plain and boring doesn’t win any contests and I want to win contests for sure. So I learned a valuable lesson through all of the recipe testing I did, over the last couple of days. The lesson being that watermelon and iced tea are long lost friends. Destined to be together forever. That forever being in a pitcher in my fridge for my drinking pleasure.
We start by making the tea. Drop in six teabags into a large (heatproof) pitcher.
**Note: I used Tetley brand’s new Black and Green Tea Blend. It’s the perfect combination of both black and green tea all rolled into one flavor-packed teabag. I highly recommend you go with Tetley. It’s the bee’s knees. Or the cat’s pajamas. You can find it here.**
Pour six cups simmering water into the pitcher.
Allow the tea to steep in the hot water for a bit.
**Note: You can decide how long to steep your tea for. Anywhere between 5 to 10 minutes. If you like really strong iced tea, leave the bags in the hot water for the full 10 minutes. If you don’t like it as strong, I recommend leaving it in there for about 5 minutes.**
Remove the tea bags and allow the tea to cool down to room temperature.
Cover the tea and place it in the fridge to chill for about 1 hour.
**Tip: If your pitcher doesn’t have a lid, you can just cover it with plastic wrap!**
Let’s now work on the watermelon. Scoop out the flesh of the watermelon and place it in a blender or food processor. Blend until there are no chunks left and it’s just liquid.
Right now there’s a lot of pulp and seeds all up in the watermelon juice. We don’t want to add that to our tea, so the best way to go about this is to pour the watermelon juice into a bowl through a fine-mesh strainer.
**Tip: Use a spoon to help push the liquid through the strainer. You’ll notice the pulp and seeds get left behind while the juice falls to the bowl. Toss the pulp.**
Continue until all of the watermelon has been passed through the strainer and you’ve gotten rid of all of the pulp and seeds. Store the watermelon juice in the fridge until ready to use.
I don’t know about you, but I love sweet tea. I mean yeah sure, I can have iced tea that isn’t sweetened, but that’s only sometimes. Today isn’t sometime. No, today, I’m going all the way. I’m making this tea a sweet tea. I’ve also just been informed (by my trusty friend google) that sweet tea is actually a big thing down in the South, so it goes well with my fantasy. I’m trying to keep it real.
We’re going to be making a simple syrup. A simple syrup is just that, simple. We start by adding sugar and water to a pot and bringing it to a rapid boil. Continue to cook the syrup until all the sugar has dissolved.
Once the sugar is completely dissolved and the syrup is simmering like crazy, remove the pot from the heat. Add the thinly sliced fresh basil. Just dump it in, go ahead. Give it a gentle stir.
Allow the basil syrup to sit and steep and develop its awesome flavor. Let it cool down to room temperature and then transfer it to a pouring vessel of some sort. Like maybe a glass measuring cup?
**Note: It’s important to let the simple syrup cool down completely before adding it to our iced tea. You see, the iced tea and the watermelon juice are both chilling. We want them cold. If you were to add hot syrup to the cold tea and watermelon juice, it would make things funky. Your tea would get funky. Do you want funky iced tea?! No! No, you don’t!**
Once an hour has passed and the tea is chilled and the watermelon juice is also chilled, you can go about making the iced tea. Pour the watermelon juice into the tea.
Next up, add the basil simple syrup. This is what sweetens our tea, so add as much or as little as you’d like. The best thing about making iced tea at home, is that you get to decide just how sweet or not sweet to make it. Or in this case how sweet and basily to make it or not sweet and basily. Basily, it’s a new word. Get used to it.
**Note: I don’t like my tea too sweet so I only added about half of the basil syrup.**
Add some fresh lime juice. Just squeeze it right into the pitcher along with the other ingredients. (Again as much or as little as you’d like.) Don’t go and get that bottled lime juice stuff. That’ll ruin the tea flavor. I always think it doesn’t taste quite right so if that’s all you can find, I’d rather you just skip the lime juice altogether. If you have access to fresh limes, then use the fresh stuff. The good stuff.
Give the tea a big ol’ stir to make sure it’s well combined. Add tons of ice to the pitcher at this point, if you’d like.
**Tip: I like adding the ice to the glasses instead because that way it won’t water down all of the iced tea in the pitcher later on as the ice melts.**
Fill a couple of tall glasses or mason jars (if you want to be hip and cool) with lots of ice. Then pour yourself some of this watermelon basil lime iced tea. I like to make it super fancy with a couple of garnishes. You know me, I like to take things over the edge. So add a few lime slices to the cups. I also skewered a few watermelon balls with a toothpick and placed that into the glasses as well. A few sprigs of fresh basil completes it.
**Tip: You can make watermelon balls with a melon baller, or a teaspoon measuring spoon. Just scoop right into the cut watermelon and make rounds. It’s that easy.**
Then just sit back on your porch or patio or backyard or apartment balcony or if you don’t have any of these things then just sit on the couch and relax. The important thing is to relax and enjoy your iced tea. Think about how you’re sipping on your own homemade iced tea like the champ that you are. Think about how much cooler you are than everybody else because you just made watermelon basil lime iced tea. You’re super fancy right now.
This is the perfect summer drink to make for parties or gathering, or even just to have in the fridge for the week. It’s super refreshing and made with really good tea. This new Tetley Black and Green Tea is amazing and perfect for iced tea. It’s like they were meant to be. I tried to keep it kiddie friendly so there’s no alcohol in here. I mean, I should have some non-alcoholic drinks on the blog. It’s about time. But if you’d like to add some alcohol for an adults-only party or BBQ, well then who am I to say no? Of course you can! Go ahead and add some vodka or tequila or clear rum. But if anyone asks, you didn’t hear it from me.
**Note: When the iced tea has sat in the fridge for a bit, you’ll notice the watermelon and tea will separate. Do not panic. That’s totally normal. Just give the tea a big stir before serving!**
If you’re like me and have never made iced tea before—except you wouldn’t be like me anymore because I just made iced tea—then I highly recommend and I’d be oh so honored if this was the first iced tea recipe you’ve ever made. If you’re an iced tea pro, I hope you’ll give this one a try because I promise you this will be the only iced tea you’ll ever want to drink. And if you have a patio or a wrap around porch, I’m requiring you to make this tea and have a couple glasses for me. In fact, invite me over and I’ll make this tea for the both of us. We’ll have a great time, plotting schemes against our enemies (we won’t really), but we can talk about House of Cards and have a water cooler chat about how amazing Kevin Spacey is in it. Anyhow, I’m off to go drink some iced tea, I’ve gotten really thirsty all of a sudden, and catch up on House of Cards. Make this tea, you won’t regret it. Enjoy!
- 6 Tetley Black and Green Tea Blend teabags
- 6 cups hot simmering water
- 1 small seedless watermelon (or half of a large one)
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup water
- ½ cup fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced (chiffonade)
- 3 limes, juiced
- Place the Tetley teabags in a large heatproof pitcher. Bring 6 cups of water to a simmer. Carefully pour the hot water into the pitcher, over the teabags. Allow to steep for about 5 to 10 minutes, depending on how strong you like your iced tea. Remove the teabags and discard. Let the tea cool down to room temperature. Place in the fridge, covered, and allow to chill for at least 1 hour.
- Slice the watermelon in half and scoop out the flesh. Place it into a blender or food processor. Blend until completely smooth and juiced. Pour the watermelon juice through a fine-mesh strainer, into a large bowl or separate pitcher. Use a spoon to help pass the blended juice through the strainer. Discard the pulp and white seeds that are left behind. Cover and chill the watermelon juice.
- Combine the ½ cup sugar and ½ cup water in a small sauce pot. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer. Continue cooking until the sugar has completely dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in the sliced basil. Transfer to a glass measuring cup or other pouring vessel, and allow to cool down completely.
- To make the iced tea, pour about 3 cups watermelon juice into the chilled tea. Add as much or as little of the basil simple syrup as you'd like, depending on how sweet you like your tea. Add the fresh lime juice and give it a big stir.
- Serve with lots of ice in tall glasses. Garnish with a few lime slices, fresh basil leaves, and a slice of watermelon. Or use a melon baller to make watermelon rounds. Skewer two melon balls onto a toothpick and use as a garnish.
- Will keep in the fridge, covered, for up to 4 days. If the tea has been sitting in the fridge, you'll notice that the watermelon juice and tea will separate, just give it a stir before serving! Enjoy!
- yield: 7 to 8 servings