Serves a Crowd

Tea Thyme Soda

June  2, 2011
1 Rating
Photo by James Ransom
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

Test Kitchen Notes

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. —mitschlag

  • 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
  • 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)
In This Recipe
  1. For the soda:
  2. 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!
  3. 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.
  1. For the syrup:
  2. 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.
  3. 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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I am an amateur baker and cake decorator. I enjoy cooking, as well as eating and feeding others. I live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with my husband and our menagerie. I enjoy outdoor activities including hiking, mushroom hunting, tide pooling, beach combing, and snowboarding.