Over the Fourth of July weekend, my husband and I ventured to Los Angeles to visit family and friends. We arrived at my cousin Dan and his wife Monica's house one afternoon, and Dan excitedly offered us each a glass of what turned out to be his rendition of our grandmother's "famous" mint iced tea. We gleefully gulped the cool, sweet, aromatic tea, which I hadn't had in years. It's a taste memory that will always bring me back to sitting in my grandparents' large kitchen or under the umbrella by their pool on a summer day, sipping iced tea out of a tall, colored glass. My grandmother used Lipton iced tea mix, but she lifted it above the ordinary by infusing her tea with a generous amount of mint water, which she made by pouring boiling water over a huge handful of fresh mint that she'd just picked from the garden. Inspired by Dan's brilliant -- and timely -- recreation of my grandmother's tea, I decided to make some myself at home last week using tea bags instead of mix (you can use either -- I won't judge!). —Merrill Stubbs
tea bags, or the equivalent in loose tea (I used English Breakfast, but you can really use any tea you like)
packed fresh mint leaves
3 to 4 tablespoons
sugar (turbinado is good here, but you could also use honey, maple syrup or agave)
Lemon slices for serving
Boil a kettle of water, and put the tea and the mint into a large, heatproof pot or pitcher. Pour a quart of boiling water into the pot, add the sugar and stir until dissolved. Carefully taste a little and add more sugar if you like. Set the tea aside to cool to room temperature and then refrigerate until cold.
Strain and serve over plenty of ice with lemon wedges.