Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Iced Sun Tea with Spiced Simple Syrup


(This is part of the Fight Back Friday event, which you can check out at Food Renegade. Enjoy!

Today being July 1st, Nate and I sat down and took a long hard look at our finances, which we haven't done since...oh... before the baby was born. In March. We've been a little busy around here, what with the mother-killer baby colic, the GERD, the C-section recovery, the postpartum depression and blah blah blah ad infinitum. For the last few months, we've just decided not to LOOK at the accounts, because if you don't look, everything is ok? right? right? And there was always money, so everything was going ok, right?


No one here is pretending that a gluten-free diet is cheap, by my God, our food expenses this month were staggering. To put things in perspective, we spent more on food last month than on rent, and rent in Southern California is ridiculously high in comparison to the rest of the nation.


You're probably thinking that it's all the delicious home cooking I do around here, right? Because anyone who cooks with that much butter has got to be going into debt for it, right?

Not even. The problem is, I had a baby who demanded all my waking and sleeping hours be devoted to him, and after getting up 7 times a night to console my screaming infant, I just didn't have the energy to cook. Fitting in showers and the brushing of teeth was challenge enough, let alone whipping up lavish meals ahem, any meals at all. As often as not, the baby would go down to sleep at 5pm, I would start crying, and Nate would order sushi. So really, it was the sushi bill that did the budget in. Damn sushi.

So here we are, July 1st.


This month, we are going on an eating-out "fast." There will be NO eating out this month. I'm happy, the baby's happy, so regular, home-cooked meals should be on the menu again, right? And honestly, I'm really looking forward to it. I'm sick of eating out. I'm sick of sushi, specifically. There's only one little bit to this NO EATING OUT thing that has me quaking in my flip flops and gnashing my teeth and weeping and wailing lamentations.

No eating out, NOT EVEN STARBUCKS.

Not even STARBUCKS?? Woe is me! I love my morning cup of coffee... and my afternoon cup of coffee too. I don't go to Starbucks that often, but to me, a caramel machiatto with whole milk is the perfect reward after a really hard day (and I have had a lot of really hard days lately. Wait, come to think of it, I think the "hard day" excuse is what got us into this mess in the first place).

But you know? I think I'm going to be ok without it. Because I don't think I need a steaming hot cup of coffee during the month of July. It's hot here. I think I need a tall, frosty glass of iced tea with a sprig of mint in it. And thankfully, all you need for that is pitcher, some tea bags, and a little simple syrup, not a $5000 esspresso machine. And then, there is also the satisfaction of sitting in your own backyard, with a tall cool glass of iced tea that YOU made, knowing it only cost pennies instead of dollars. And it's just as good, no BETTER, than the iced tea at Starbucks.


Iced Sun Tea with Spiced Simple Syrup

You could go all plain Jane with this and make plain ol' black tea, with plain ol' simple syrup, but why? It's much more fun to pick a flavored tea and then make the simple syrup to match. Last week we made mango black tea with mint simple syrup, but your own creativity is the limit to what you can make!

For the Tea
1 box of tea bags, flavor of choice (this week we are drinking chai black tea)
a large, covered tea pitcher
(I really love the kind with a spigot)
purified water to fill pitcher

For the Spiced Simple Syrup
2 cups water
2 cups granulated white sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
2-3 tablespoons whole cardamom seeds
1 teaspoon pure bourbon vanilla extract
(or whatever you have)
1/4 teaspoon allspice

For the Tea
Fill your pitcher with cold, purified water. Add tea bags and cover. Set in a sunny place, and let steep, 3-4 hours. Remove teabags and refridgerate. Serve with ice and simple syrup.

For the Simple Syrup
Add water and sugar to a saucepan, and set over high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Add cinnamon sticks, cardamom seed pods, vanilla extract, and allspice. Reduce heat to low, and let simmer 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat, and let cool. Strain into a glass jar with a lid (I'm using an old spaghetti sauce jar), or leave cinnamon sticks and cardamom pods in syrup for a stronger flavor. Store in the refrigerator for up to two months.

Other flavor variations:
Instead of the spiced syrup mix, you can also try flavoring the syrup with fresh mint leaves, slices of oranges, lemons, or limes, pineapple wedges, apples, or shaved fresh ginger.


  1. YUM! Out of curiousity, how many ounces/cups/quarts does your pitcher hold, so I can scale the recipe. Great blog!

  2. I think my pitcher holds a gallon - you use more water than you would for hot tea, partly because it steeps so long.

    I got my current pitcher at walmart - it was only 5$, and it has a spigot and a screw on lid. It's awesome!

  3. So feeling your pain on the "out" "FAST" - we really ought to coin a unique moniker out of that, oughtn't we? LOL!

    Seriously - I once told my husband (in less lean times, OF COURSE!) to forget buying me jewelery - ever - if he'd just keep my Starbucks card loaded, I'd be *just* fine, thank you!

    So... we do LOTS of iced tea at home. I'm thinking my teenagers are REALLY going to like your little formulation here! Thanks for sharing!

  4. I love suntea!

    Good luck on your eating out fast. I really like that idea and may need to adopt it as we tighten the rein on our finances.

  5. i like your pictures a lot and my hubby loves iced tea. we will definitly try this!

  6. Oh my goodness. I feel like I've walked your path before myself. Twice, actually. Only, we didn't have the GERD, but we did have the non-sleeping, maybe co-sleeping will work, but either way let's get up every 1.5 hours to nurse babies. OY! And, while we used to do a lot of take-out/go-out, that has also slowed to a trickle 'round here (but I think our cholesterol count thanks us). Your idea to spice simple syrup is so ingenious...we'll have to try it.

    Anyway, I found you on TasteSpotting and am writing to say that if you have any photos that aren’t accepted there, I’d love to publish them. Visit my new site (below), it’s a lot of fun! I hope you will consider it.