Lightly lemony, slightly sweet, this iced tea is perfection. The recipe hails from an old cookbook, and to me it’s the very best there is, the recipe you will turn to when you are entertaining or when you simply need something incredibly quenching on a hot summer day.

A glass of iced tea.

A few weeks ago, I stopped by my aunt and uncle’s house in Vermont en route home from a soccer tournament with my daughters. It was a Sunday, late in the afternoon, and we couldn’t stay long, so we made the most of it, sliding into stools around their big farmhouse table, ready to receive all the nourishment time would allow.

Within minutes of arriving, my aunt had toasted us thick slices of peasant bread and slathered them with butter. As we savored our toast, she poured us glasses of homemade iced tea and pushed plates of strawberries and apricots our way. With two dogs lounging at our feet, we wished we could stay forever.

She sent us off each with a sugar cone piled high with scoops of vanilla ice cream, and as we drove home, my youngest, Tig, asked when we could make the iced tea again. I had first made it with her several summers ago, after she returned from my parents’ house raving about it. The recipe comes from the Prouts Neck Cookbook, the source of dozens of recipes many of the women in my family relied on for years.

This past Monday, I made the iced tea with Tig, who, one week into summer break, already seems bored. I enlisted her to squeeze the lemons and sent her out back to cut some mint, the only herb I can’t kill. Twenty minutes later, the tea was done, chilling in the fridge, and about an hour later, we were ladling it into ice-filled glasses and relishing its quenching abilities.

Every time I make this tea, I wonder why I don’t make it more often as it is so very good: lightly lemony, slightly sweet, and incredibly refreshing. If you are expecting company this week for a July Fourth gathering or planning a future summer get-together, I can’t recommend it enough.

Wren snuggling with sweet Leto and Homer (who is recovering from surgery):

The Prouts Neck Cookbook:

The Prouts Neck Cookbook

My grandmother’s handwritten recipe… isn’t her writing beautiful?

Iced tea recipe.

How to Make Iced Tea, Step by Step

First, juice some lemons. You’ll need 2/3 cup.

A juicer with a lemon and a liquid measure filled with fresh lemon juice.

Enlist the help of anyone lurking around your kitchen.

Tig, juicing lemons.

Then gather some mint:

Tig, picking mint.
Tig, holding a bowl of mint.

Place the mint and 5 tea bags in a large vessel (ideally a pitcher large enough to hold roughly 9 cups of liquid):

A large vessel filled with mint and tea bags.

Add 1 cup sugar (see notes in the recipe if you wish to add less):

A large vessel filled with mint, sugar, and tea bags.

Then cover with 4 cups of boiling water and let steep for 10 minutes:

A glass vessel holding tea bags steeping in hot water and mint.

After 10 minutes, remove the mint and tea bags…

A glass vessel holding tea bags steeping in hot water and mint.

… then add 4 cups cold water plus the fresh lemon juice:

Tig adding lemon juice to the tea.

Serve over ice and enjoy!

I really need a pitcher!

Iced tea in a large glass vessel.

But a large vessel + a ladle works fine:

Iced tea in a large glass vessel with a ladle inside.

So refreshing!

Two glasses of iced tea.

These large ice cube molds are fun, too.

Two glasses of iced tea.
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Two glasses of iced tea.

The Very Best Iced Tea


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Description

From the Prouts Neck Cookbook, in which it is called Mrs. Bostwick’s Iced Tea.

Notes:

  • Tea: I have used Lipton black tea bags and other various kinds. My aunt uses Earl Grey. My mother uses Yorkshire Red or Lipton Yellow Label. 
  • Sugar: This is a recipe I have never tinkered with. It might appear to be a lot of sugar, but it does not taste too sweet (in my opinion). If you do the math it’s roughly 1 tablespoon of sugar for every 1/2 cup of tea. If this seems like too much for you, hold back some of the sugar from the start, and add it in to taste at the end.

Ingredients

  • 5 black tea bags, see notes above
  • a few sprigs of mint
  • 1 cup of sugar, see notes above
  • 4 cups boiling water
  • 2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 4 cups cold water

Instructions

  1. Place the tea bags, mint, and sugar in a large pitcher or vessel (able to hold 9 cups). Pour the boiling water over the top and let steep for 10 minutes.
  2. Remove the mint and tea bags, squeezing the bags to extract the liquid.
  3. Add the lemon juice and cold water.
  4. Chill until ready to serve. Serve over ice and garnish with more mint or lemon if you wish.
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Category: Drink
  • Cuisine: Amerian