Ginger Lemon Tea
July 10, 2011 § 3 Comments
Some of you may already carol the merits of the two primary ingredients in this drink. But if you’re not a member of camp-ginger or camp-lemon—if, let’s say, the title of this recipe induced a nose wrinkle, a stomach turn or a mighty urge to click away to a different hyperlink—let me quell your worries.
Let me preface by saying that lemonade makes me pucker, unless it’s diluted with plenty of water and a couple glugs of orange juice. Similarly, if I had to eliminate one spice from my spice rack, it would be a toss-up between a pristine jar of ground ginger or a plastic container of poultry seasoning re-gifted to me nearly a decade ago. Ginger and sweetened lemon water are two things I figured—if I ever really thought about either—I could very easily live without.
But friends, life is full of surprises! Five weeks ago my friend invited me to one of our favorite local coffee shops. I happened to have a bit of an upset stomach that day and when the cutie-pie barista started listing off the slew of available iced teas—ginger and lemon was his favorite—I shyly smiled and said “Oo, that sounds good!” while inwardly eye-rolling. I sheepishly figured that, if nothing else, it might be a tummy-soother. My friend and I shuttled back to our table, sweating glasses in hand, and I took a sip, hoping for palatability.
To say I liked it would be a severe understatement. I went back to Bentley’s Coffee Shop and ordered that tea nearly every day for the next two weeks (disclaimer: Cutie-Pie was only present a third of the time). To everyone I dragged with me, I claimed that I was deflating my wallet for “testing purposes,” while I tried to master my own Ginger-Lemon Tea at home. But while that was sort of true, I didn’t start any feverish duplication attempts until my summer job started 374 miles away in Santa Fe.
If you’re not sold on making this drink, let me make one last attempt. I’m under the impression that when you boil the heck out of a bunch of ginger and mix it with a dizzying amount of lemon juice, they somehow rule out each other’s less-than-savory attributes and harmonize—with a nudge of honey—in the most exceptional way. I’ve made over a dozen batches of this sweet-tea blend in the last month and this is as close as it gets to the real-deal. (Although nothing is quite as good as sitting in Bentley’s with an iced glass in hand, gabbing by the big window with a good chum. The ambiance can’t be beat.)
This recipe is easily tweakable to your tastes: If you like it sweeter, add another quarter-cup honey. If you want the lemon to stand out more than the ginger, add the juice of another lemon or two. I’ve made this tea several times with just ginger tea bags (four bags total for this recipe) and it’s quite good—but nothing beats the real-deal ginger. If you can, buy the knobby rhizome. It’s critical to note that the recipe makes a concentrate. I’d rather not expend the energy to bring eight cups of water to a boil. Instead, when the concentrate has cooled, you can reconstitute with another quart of water and chill until serving. (Usually, lacking shelf space, I simply leave the concentrate in a glass jar in the fridge and pour myself a half-glass and top it off with cold water.)
Ingredients for a 1-quart concentrate*
*Reconstituted, this recipe yields 2 quarts ginger-lemon tea
2/3 to 3/4 cup lemon juice (approx. 5 large lemons)
4 cups water
1/3 cup ginger, peeled and chopped in hunks
1 ginger tea bag (optional)
½ cup honey, high quality
To make a pitcher of tea:
3-4 cups water, chilled (added at the end)
To make one glass of tea:
Add equal parts chilled water and concentrate
1. Peel ginger (perfectionism is unwarranted here) and chop into chunks. In a medium saucepan, heat water to a boil. Add ginger and simmer for 20 minutes; the water will turn an amber-gold color. Remove from heat and steep an additional 10 minutes (if desired, add one tea bag at this stage).
2. Meanwhile, squeeze lemons and strain pulp and seeds.
3. Remove ginger pieces (and tea bag, if using) by straining or skiving off with a slotted spoon. Add lemon juice and honey to the pot. Heat and stir until honey dissolves, just below a simmer. Remove from heat and cool completely.
4. Add 3 cups of water and taste; add additional water if preferred. Chill in the refrigerator and serve over ice. A fun tip: Freeze an ice cube tray with ginger-lemon tea and serve drink over iced tea cubes.
Diet Notes: SCD-safe, gluten-free, nut-free