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Top 10 Iced Tea Drinks and Cocktails

Updated on July 24, 2013

"Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea? How did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea." Sydney Smith wrote that in the early 19th century, and I like to think that his gratitude extends to iced tea, which really became popular when tea, originally a very expensive export from Asia, finally got cheaper in the late 1800s. You can thank Sir Thomas Lipton for that. Lipton, a Glasgow grocer, started packaging tea from his own plantations in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) in the 1870s - and we've never looked back.

Iced tea is wonderfully cooling in the hot summer afternoons, but to be honest, sometimes you want something a little more special than plain iced tea. never fear! Read on to learn five ways you can make it sparkle with added flavors.

And you can keep on sipping iced tea with a kick into the sultry nights. There are many cocktails featuring iced tea - I don't mean Long island Iced Tea, either, which is made up of several liquors (usually vodka, rum, tequila, rum and triple sec) with a shot of Coca Cola. You can make my 5 top iced tea cocktails in a New York minute (or long Island minute, if you prefer) any time the weather calls for something light, but your party calls for something alcoholic.

Mint is delicious in iced tea.
Mint is delicious in iced tea. | Source

Iced Tea Enhancers

1. One of my favorite enhancers is fresh mint, because not only does it taste great, you can pick it while you relax in the backyard and drop it right in your glass! Mint is really easy to grow, even in a urban,north-facing little yard or in a pot on a sunny windowsill.

2. Lemon slices are the classic iced-tea add on, but how about grapefruit, lime or orange slices - or a mixture of any of these citrus juices. Just add a splash or two to your pitcher or glass.

3. Make some iced tea ice cubes - freeze extra iced tea in ice cube trays too add to your glass, and may your tea never grow weaker.

4. The Iced tea Shirley Temple: a mix of tea and ginger ale, with a shot of maraschino cherry juice, an orange slice and a cherry.

5. A black tea like Lipton's Gold Label is perfect for a cold drink, but don't forget that really any tea that you like hot will be amazing chilled - try green, white or rooibos tea, or a herbal tea. Match your add-one to your base tea flavor: try mango slices with green tea, for example, or a twist of orange with cinnamon or vanilla tea. Iced chai tea with vanilla soy milk and a bit of sweetener is a favorite of mine - with a cinnamon stick stirrer!

Cognac and ginger syrup make ordinary iced tea extraordinarily good.
Cognac and ginger syrup make ordinary iced tea extraordinarily good. | Source

A Taste of Iced Tea Cocktails

1. To make a cold, orange-y Grand Tea, simply mix 3.5 ounces of iced tea with 1.5 ounces of Grand Marnier liqueur and 1 1/2 tsp. lemon juice, poured over ice. Decorate with a slice of lemon, if you like.

2. Spiced Tea: 5 ounces of iced tea shaken with 1/2 tsp lemon juice and 1 1/4 ounces of spiced rum (Captain Morgan is one brand you can use). Instead of lemon juice, add a splash of orange juice and you'll have something that tastes like Constant Comment tea, only a little stronger (!).

3. Or make an Absolut Mangito: mix 2 parts Absolut Pears vodka, to one part pineapple juice/iced tea mix (equal amounts of both) and 3 dashes of ginger syrup. Garnish with mango slices and mint leaves

4. Ginger Tea is made by mixing 3 pieces of candied ginger, a few mint leaves and 1/2 ounce of sugar syrup in a glass. Add 2 ounces green tea and an ounce of cognac, and mix well. Strain it all into a glass of ice. Another kind of Ginger Tea cocktail is the Filipino drink, a Salabat. To make this, brew ginger tea and chill. Then add a dollop of dark rum and a twist of lime.

5. Chai Tea Martini - maybe we could call this a Chai-tini! Just brew up some chai and add a dash of vanilla liqueur; shake well and strain into a cold glass. Other liqueur flavors would work well, too. How about Godiva Dark Chocolate or some Bailey's Irish Cream?

1960s Lipton Iced Tea Commercial

Your Turn

What's your favorite kind of iced tea?

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