One of the biggest perks of the July "eating-in" challenge, in which we approximately zero dollars eating out, is that it broke my Starbucks dependency (or Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, or Peets, ad infinitum. I use "Starbucks" as a catch-all for fancy espresso venues, because Starbucks is ubiquitous and everyone knows what I'm talking about). And let's be honest, it's not like I was spending a bushel at Starbucks every month. In fact, my monthly Starbucks bill usually only comes to about $25. And since I don't exactly indulge in any other vices (other than gratuitous amounts of butter, that is) I don't really have a problem with my liquid caffeine habit. EXCEPT....
Why spend $3 for one cup of their fantastic Passion Iced Tea, when I can make an equally fantastic entire gallon of Raspberry Zinger Iced Tea at home for only... $4? Let's break it down, shall we? If you make your own iced tea, it costs $.25 a cup, or $4 a gallon ($3.50 for the box of tea bags, $.50 for the sugar, lemon, and water). If you buy Starbucks iced tea, (assuming you are paying $3 for a venti, which has about 2 cups of liquid in it, + ice), you are paying $1.50 a cup, or $24 a gallon. $24 a gallon!? If gas or milk cost that much, there would be riots in the streets.
I'm still going to be purchasing my espresso beverages at a coffee bar because let's be honest, I don't have a $5,000 espresso machine at home, but during August, when the sweltering dog days of summer are upon us, I need a refreshing iced beverage every day. And I need that refreshing iced beverage to be, um, affordable. If I bought a glass of iced at at Starbucks every day during August (let's assume it's a venti), I would be spending... $93 on iced tea! Yikes! If I made my own tea at home (let's assume I drink an equivalent amount, 2 cups) I'll only be spending $15.50 for the month. Multiply that out over the whole summer, and I'll be saving myself ...$232.50. That's more than a season pass to Disneyland! Hmmm...
Raspberry Zinger Iced Tea with Lemon Simple Syrup
We have been making quite a lot of iced tea this summer, but this one has been my favorite by far, which is why I am sharing it with you! I used Celestial Seasonings "Lemon Zinger" iced tea because I like the tart taste of the raspberries and lemons together, but you can use whatever sort of iced tea you want.
When Nate makes the lemon simple syrup, he likes to shake it in a martini shaker with ice to cool it down more quickly. I, personally, can wait the 1/2 an hour it takes to cool down, but if you are impatient like he is, go right ahead and shake away.
1 box Celestial Seasonings "Raspberry Zinger" tea bags
1 gallon + 1 cup filtered water
1 cup sugar
Fill a pitcher with 1 gallon filtered water (I have a very handy iced tea pitcher with a lid and a spigot, but any sort of pitcher will do. Just be sure to cover the top while the tea is steeping, so no bugs or dirt get it).
Immerse 1 box Raspberry Zinger tea bags to water. Set in a sunny place, and let steep a minimum if 4 hours.
Meanwhile, mix 1 cup filtered water, 1 cup white sugar, and the juice of 1 lemon in a small saucepan. Heat over high heat, stirring constantly until the sugar dissolves into the water, and the mixture is clear. Remove from heat, and let cool. Can be stored in the fridge indefinitely (we keep ours in an old salad dressing bottle with the labels removed).
When tea is finished steeping, remove tea bags from water. Slice up 1 lemon and add to tea.
Store in the fridge indefinitely. Enjoy!