It’s the summer of fun! For reasons before mentioned, I am lining up guest posts for this summer. First up is Carey from Reclaiming Provincial. I somehow only recently discovered Carey’s space a few months ago, but fell in love instantly with her gorgeous photographs and recipes. She’s amazing.
Hello, everyone! I am excited to be sharing something in Sarah’s gorgeous space. I have long admired her work, and the unique sense of peace that it brings to me whenever I am here. Her hushed images and sincere words have a knack for finding their way to the very core. This is a quiet, honest, and beautiful place to be. And I am thrilled to be here with all of you today!
I have often felt a strong seasonal connection to Sarah, despite the fact that we live in different parts of the country. We seem to experience the same sort of yearly patterns—fleeting autumns and springs that give way to endless winters and sweltering summers—as well as the moods that result from dull, grey snow that hangs around for far too long, or humidity that makes you perspire with every breath then sadistically refuses to evaporate the beads of sweat from your skin. And when Nature decided to throw some unseasonably hot and humid weather at us here in the northeast the other week, I started obsessing over summer drinks filled with herbs and so. much. ice.
The weather has since cooled off, but the brief hot spell was a reminder that summer is just around the corner. And I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate Sarah’s break than with three delicious beverages that are perfect for sharing with loved ones and making the heat a little more bearable. Happy Summer, Sarah!
“If we wish to know about a man, we ask ‘what is his story—his real, inmost story?’—for each of us is a biography, a story. Each of us is a singular narrative, which is constructed, continually, unconsciously, by, through, and in us—through our perceptions, our feelings, our thoughts, our actions; and, not least, our discourse, our spoken narrations. Biologically, physiologically, we are not so different from each other; historically, as narratives—we are each of us unique.” —Oliver Sacks, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales
A Trio of Summer Beverages
Each of these drinks brings different things to the party. The lemonade is tangy with an extra tartness from the hibiscus tea, which is mellowed out by the sweet, herbal flavor of thyme and the floral notes of raw honey. The peach iced tea is full of awesome fresh peach flavor set against the brightness of yuzu green tea, with a little punch of fresh ginger and some herby basil-ness. And the honeydew…oh man, the honeydew. This one is perfection, you guys. There aren’t many combinations more refreshing that melon + mint, that’s for sure. But what really takes this drink to the next level is the anise-fennel simple syrup. Although both anise and fennel can be dominating flavors at times, they hang out in the background of this drink, adding complexity to the slight muskiness of the honeydew. And then there’s a little bit of lemon juice to bring in some brightness and round everything out. And if you like to booze-ify your summer beverages, some sparkling wine would go nicely with any of these. (There are plenty of other options, but sparkling punches and extra-refreshing bubbly things suit summer so darn well.) Each recipe makes approximately 1 quart.
Note: If you’re really good at planning ahead (unlike me), increase the recipe by 50% and freeze a portion of it into ice cubes to use for the pitcher/glasses.
Honey Lemonade with Hibiscus & Thyme
2/3 cup of fresh lemon juice (from 3–5 lemons, depending on size)
1 cup of water plus 2 1/2 cups of water, divided
1 hibiscus tea bag
2 tablespoons of raw honey (or more, to taste, and depending on the sweetness of your hibiscus tea)
a few sprigs of thyme, plus more for garnish
Bring one cup of water to a boil then remove from heat. Add the few sprigs of thyme, let sit for about 5 minutes, then add the hibiscus tea bag. Let steep for 3 minutes, then discard thyme sprigs and tea bag.
Stir in honey until dissolved. Let cool completely.
Combine lemon juice, cooled tea, and the additional 2 1/2 cups of water. Pour into a pitcher filled with ice and garnish with thyme sprigs.
Peach Iced Tea with Ginger & Basil
3 large ripe peaches (or 5–6 small ones — enough to yield 1 1/2 cups of juice, with water)
1/2–3/4 cup of water plus 2 1/2 cups of water, divided
2 yuzu green tea bags (if you can’t find yuzu green tea, just use your favorite regular green tea and add a squeeze of grapefruit juice [ideally] or a little bit more lemon juice, OR a few dashes of Miracle Mile Yuzu Bitters, if you happen to have them)
a 1 1/2 inch nub of fresh ginger, roughly chopped
healthy squeeze of lemon juice
1–2 tablespoons of honey, to taste
a few basil leaves, plus more for garnish
Bring the 2 1/2 cups of water to a boil then remove from heat. Add ginger, let sit for about 5 minutes, then bruise a few basil leaves and add them to the water, along with the green tea bags. Let steep for 2 minutes, then strain out ginger, basil, and tea. Stir in honey until dissolved. Let cool completely.
In the meantime, peel and pit peaches, then roughly chop. Add peaches to a blender or food processor along with 1/2 a cup of water, then blend. Add additional 1/4 cup of water (or more) if necessary to get the juice to a nice, thin consistency. Strain the puree through a cheesecloth-lined sieve. (If you have juicer, you can skip the peeling part and the straining part, but you will still want to add the water to thin out the juice.)
Combine peach juice, cooled tea, and the healthy squeeze of lemon juice. Pour into a pitcher filled with ice and garnish with basil leaves.
Honeydew Agua Fresca with Mint & Anise-Fennel Simple Syrup
one ripe, medium-sized honeydew
1/2 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of water
1 star anise
about half a dozen fennel seeds
juice of 1 lemon, on the smaller side
a few mint leaves, plus more for garnish
Heat sugar and water in a saucepan, stirring until sugar is just dissolved. Remove from heat, add star anise, fennel seeds, and a few bruised mint leaves. Let steep for 5 minutes, then discard mint, fennel seeds, and anise. Let cool.
In the meantime, de-seed melon and remove rind, then chop into chunks. Puree in a blender or food processor until smooth, then strain through a cheesecloth-lined sieve. (If you have a juicer, you can skip the straining part, and even removing the melon rind too, I believe. [Correct me if I’m wrong!]