Monday, August 10, 2009

Raspberry Zinger Iced Tea with Lemon Simple Syrup


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
2 lemons
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!


  1. Becks! It wouldn't have made as nice of photos but you can buy a whole box of passion tea bags at starbucks for the same price! PT is my favorite also!

  2. Hey, I picked up your post on Foodgawker - I saw that you used a whole box (24 I'm guessing) tea bags for a pitcher of iced tea.

    I've been making iced tea of all varieties at home for years and years, and I only ever use 3 or 4 teabags per gallon. You can cut down the amount of teabags that you use a lot by using hot or boiling water - just if you wanted to reduce your costs a little more! :) Though it does require a little bit more waiting around.

  3. Becks, what is the proportion of lemon syrup to tea? You said you stored the syrup in the fridge, so I'm guessing you don't use it all at once.

  4. Hey Emily, that's a good question! I usually mix the syrup and the tea together in the glass when I have a cup, and I think how much syrup to put per glass of tea is really a matter of taste. So when I make myself a glass of tea, I usually use about 2 tbs of syrup (I think our glasses are 14oz?) but when I make Nate a glass I only use 1 tbs because he doesn't like it as sweet. Hope that helps!

  5. This tea sounds amazing. I have been experimenting with different iced teas this summer that just need more more "fresh" ingredient to spice it up a big. One of my favorites is just pouring hot green teat over fresh basil and chilling it immediately. It's amazing how the flavor of the herbs immediately infuse the tea.



  6. Thanks for you comment. We're hanging in there taking it one day at a time. Your pictures are amazing. I love coming to your blog and looking at all the delicious food and drinks.

  7. what a great idea to use raspberry zinger! this drink looks gorgeous. I cant wait to try it!

  8. I made the lemon syrup today and used it with regular tea bags - it was great! Improved the flavour far more that I'd have expected!

  9. hello! I was directed to your site from tastespotting. love love love your photos. I tried photographing some ice tea this weekend but couldn't get the lighting quite right... your images are so dynamic! what are your lighting secrets for shots like the first two up top?

  10. Hey Lisa! It's all about the light. I live in LA and the light can be really intense here. I like to shoot in the afternoon when the light is really golden and dreamy, but I hardly ever shoot in direct sunlight - it's too harsh and you get too much contrast. I like to shoot in a shady spot, with the light behind me, shining onto the object, or (in the case of the picture of the glass) with the light behind a translucent object, shining through it. I also take a LOT of pictures so I have a lot of options, and then I color correct. I don't really photoshop, I just use iphoto's "edit" tools. Hope that helps! :)

  11. We always have homemade iced tea in our fridge. Indeed, what a money saver. I also recommend the Luzianne brand from the south. They have "family size" tea bags that are bigger than your typical bag size and are specially made for iced tea. I don't make in the sun- I just make a concentrated brew then dissolve sugar and add more cool water. I also toss in some herbal blends like the zingers, peppermint bags, etc. for variety.

    Catherine / Chelsea, NYC

  12. Buy Loose Leaf Tea, Earl Grey Tea, Royal Masala Chai, Assam Tea offer finest flavor & health benefits

  13. Great Post!! I really like the lemon tea. Thanks for sharing.