Tea Thyme Soda

By • June 2, 2011 • 58 Comments

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Author Notes: This recipe is a riff on a delightful iced tea that gets served in the summer at both Queen of Sheba Ethiopian Restaurant and Stumptown Coffee in Portland, Oregon. At its essence, it's just black tea with thyme, but it's surprisingly delicious and refreshing. The added bourbon makes it an easy-to-drink cocktail (maybe too easy—don't say I didn't warn you).hardlikearmour

Food52 Review: WHO: Hardlikearmour is a veterinarian by day, iced tea aficionado by night.
WHAT: A bubbly, herbaceous iced tea (or cocktail) with Northwest roots.
HOW: Allow tea bags, thyme, and cinnamon to steep in a simple syrup, then combine it with lemon juice in a highball glass. Top with a splash of soda—and some bourbon if it's one of those days.
WHY WE LOVE IT: If a tea can be described as alluring, this would be it. The thyme garnish drew us in, and the refreshing clean citrus finish kept us sipping. While it's delicious on its own, a splash of bourbon adds a whole other layer of attraction.
Kukharka

Makes 10 drinks

For the soda:

  • Ice, as needed
  • 2 tablespoons Tea Thyme syrup (see recipe below)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 ounces bourbon (optional)
  • Seltzer, cold, as needed
  • Sprig of fresh thyme or lemon wedge, for garnish
  1. Fill a 12-ounce glass halfway with ice. Add the syrup, lemon juice, and bourbon (if using it). Top the rest of the glass off with seltzer and stir gently to combine. Garnish with a sprig of thyme or lemon wedge. Repeat with the remaining syrup, or save the rest for another day. Enjoy!
  2. Note: Feel free to play with the proportions of the lemon and syrup. I find this recipe to yield a refreshing balance of tart and sweet the way it is written, but you may prefer otherwise.

For the syrup:

  • 8 ounces (1 cup) water
  • 8 ounces (1 cup plus 2 tablespoons) sugar
  • 6 bags black tea (I used Darjeeling)
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons dried thyme or a handful of fresh thyme sprigs (about 1/4 ounce)
  • One 1/2 inch stick cinnamon, broken (optional)
  1. Combine water and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally. Boil for 30 to 60 seconds, until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat.
  2. Add in the tea bags to steep, thyme, and cinnamon (if using), then cover. Allow to come to room temperature. Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a glass jar, squeezing tea bags to extract as much syrup as possible. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
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Comments (58) Questions (1)

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3 days ago StraighttotheHipsBaby

Congratulations! This looks like such a tasty drink! Cheers!

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4 days ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

I think you drink sounds amazing, congratulations on being a finalist and I can't wait for the weather to warm up so I can make it.

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4 days ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Thank you all! This makes me very happy because it's one of my all-time favorites.

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4 days ago gingerroot

Yay, hla!! Well deserved congrats on being a finalist. This is such a fabulous, refreshing drink.

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4 days ago Panfusine

This sounds absolutely DIVINE!.. definitely a WINNER in my books.
congrats on the finalist pick!

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4 days ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Thank you kindly, Panfusine!

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4 days ago cookinginvictoria

Congratulations, Sara! How did I miss this? Love the idea of a thyme infused iced tea soda. On the must try list for those warm PNW summer days that are hopefully just around the corner. :)

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4 days ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Fingers crossed! We were up to 80ish on Monday, but now we're back down to the low 60s.

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4 days ago ChefJune

June is a trusted source on General Cooking.

mmm what an interesting twist on iced tea!

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4 days ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Thanks. I can only take credit with turning the combo into a soda. When I tried the iced tea at Stumptown a few summers back I was hooked at first sip.

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4 days ago Alexandra V. Jones

Sounds great I have never seen this at Stumptown (hooked on the nitro cold brew), but looks like I can make it at home....and add some Bulleit!

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4 days ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

I'm not sure they still have it at Stumptown -- it was/is only a summer thing. I have to avoid their cold brew with milk combos as they are insanely addictive (the winter spice one especially).

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4 days ago susan g

This has been a must-have for the summer, since (my comment below says) 4 years ago. A classic here, and deserves our votes!

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4 days ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

I remember you being an early fan :-) I also like to keep it on hand during the summer -- so good after doing yard work on a hot day.

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4 days ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

Congrats, Sara! Definitely making this soon.

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4 days ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Thanks, MrsL! You'll have to let me know whether or not you like it.

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4 days ago aargersi

Abbie is a trusted source on General Cooking.

YAY SARA! Congrats! This needs to go on our summer poolside roster for sure!!!

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4 days ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Thank you! definitely would be great pool-side during your 100+ heat waves.

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about 2 years ago lapadia

Love everything about this refreshing soda, love the name, and btw, I thought I had commented before!

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about 2 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Thanks, lapadia! I like to make a good-sized batch of the syrup, and add the lemon juice right to it so it keeps longer in the fridge. Then I can have afternoon tea thyme, whenever the urge strikes!

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4 days ago lapadia

Cheers.....!!!

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about 2 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

I have made this numerous times and it was a staple along with your lime in the coconut float for the past two summers. I am remiss in posting when I try something and for that I apologize. I made it with and without the booze and either way its wonderful, the tea thyme syrup is so good I can eat it by the spoonful and mixed with club soda or seltzer yields a refreshing and delicious drink. I love this!!

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about 2 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Great to hear! It's one of my absolute favorite summertime refreshers. I'm not as good at posting about things I've made as I should be either, so don't feel too bad :-)

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almost 3 years ago EmilyC

Just tried these...what a nice, unique, refreshing drink! I'm not big on sweet tea but in soda form, I realize I'm a big fan! Love how concentrated the syrup is, which means I can drink these all week long.

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almost 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Thank you, Emily! I'm not a big sweet tea fan either, as I don't find sweet beverages to be refreshing. I think the combination of tannin from the tea, herbal notes from the thyme, tang from the lemon juice is what makes this refreshing and yummy to me.

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almost 4 years ago NanP

oops sorry for the over commenting! I didn't see that any of them were successful in getting posted

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almost 4 years ago NanP

I made it with eight sprigs of fresh thyme instead of the dried. It's ridiculous! I plan to experiment with another batch substituting 3 small sprigs of dried sage for the thyme. I'll let you know how that turns out. Thanks so much for posting this recipe!

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almost 4 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

I made a batch and a half using 1/4 oz fresh thyme - a handful of sprigs and personally would've liked more thyme flavor (but I like a prominent thyme flavor for this - something about the tannin from the tea, the herbal thyme, the tart lemon, and the bubbles makes this super refreshing for me.)

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almost 4 years ago NanP

I made this with eight sprigs of thyme instead of the dried. Love it! I'm going to experiment with another batch substituting three small sprigs of dried sage that I get from a middle eastern market. I'm pretty sure that will be sufficient, sage can get a little overwhelming! My other thought is to try some of the tea/thyme syrup with some home infused pineapple vodka and soda for a summer cocktail. Thanks so much for posting this recipe!

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almost 4 years ago NanP

I made the syrup with about 10 sprigs of fresh thyme instead of the dried. Loved it, but maybe eight sprigs would be enough. I plan to experiment with another batch with three sprigs of dried sage. I think that might be sufficient - sage can be a bit overpowering!

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almost 4 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Hi, NanP! Do report back if you make it with the fresh thyme, I'd love to edit the recipe for use with either dried or fresh! I have fresh sage in the garden so I will give it a go sometime!

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almost 4 years ago NanP

I just saw this and am making it now with some fresh thyme. I can't wait to have it this afternoon! btw - this would also be wonderful with sage. I frequently brew black tea with dried sage leaves and a little sugar, just never thought about making it into a syrup

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almost 4 years ago susan g

I made it! I loved it! But the husband found it "a little medicinal" so 1/2 the thyme when I make another batch. I guess I like medicinal. And I did drop the sugar a bit, to 1 cup. So when is the Food52 Cafe opening? We could be fabulous with drinks alone, and then there's the rest of the menu...

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almost 4 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Awesome! I am a big fan of adapting recipes to suit your (or your husband's taste!) Thanks for trying this.

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almost 4 years ago susan g

A bit of the spent tea+thyme relocated to a 2nd brewing of Gunpowder green tea, hot -- mmmm! Opens me up to take more chances with my teas.

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almost 4 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

great idea!