6.2.14 Black Tea Vodka and Lemon Balm Porch Sipper
June is here, the weather is beautiful, and the birds are singing. Life is good. With all of this wonderful weather, I’ve been pretty much living outdoors. I mean why not? It’s a good excuse to get plenty of sun and spend some time taking care of my kitchen garden, which I have to say is out of control awesome this year. Heirloom tomatoes, peppers, herbs, bok choy, lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, squash, melons, beans, peas - yeah there’s a lot growing out there this year. It’s gonna be a great year for homegrown goodies, I can just tell.
But while hanging out on the patio, enjoying the garden and the great outdoors is a lot of fun, I can tell you it does work up a thirst. A refreshing thirst quencher is obviously going to be necessary. And when thinking about delicious summery quenchers, one of the first things that comes to mind is the Arnold Palmer. Half iced tea, half lemonade - it’s absolutely perfect. Unless of course, you’re in the mood for a slightly more potent beverage. In which case, I’ve got just the thing.
If an Arnold Palmer is great on its own, then this version, made with black tea-infused vodka, fresh lemons, and lemon balm is practically sublime. On a hot summery day, it’s hard to think of a better porch sipper (although this one comes pretty close). Plus, you can whip up a pitcher (trust me, you’ll want more than just one of these), in just a short time, infusion included. Really, why wouldn’t you?
Black Tea Vodka and Lemon Balm Porch Sipper (a.k.a the Arnold Balmer)
For a refreshing non-alcoholic version, just replace the infused vodka with iced black tea. If you can't get your hands on some fresh lemon balm, fresh mint would make a good substitute.
- 1 cup vodka (I recommend Death’s Door)
- 1 Tbsp loose black tea or 6-8 black tea bags (such as Assam, Darjeeling, or Earl Gray)
- ½ cup fresh lemon juice (from about 4 lemons)
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 lemon, thinly sliced
- 1 Tbsp fresh lemon balm leaves, slightly crushed
- 24 oz of lemon sparkling water
- ice and lemon balm springs for serving
1. Combine the vodka and tea in jar with a tight fitting lid. If using tea bags, cut them open and dump the loose tea into the vodka, and discard the empty tea bags. Give the mixture a good shake, then let sit for about 1 hour, shaking occasionally.
2. Strain vodka/tea mixture, and discard tea leaves.
3. In a large pitcher, combine the lemon juice, sugar, lemon slices, and lemon balm, muddling slightly with a wooden spoon. Stir in the black tea vodka and the sparkling water. Pour into glasses over ice and garnish with a sprig of lemon balm.