Keep cool in the sun, by making your own lemonade or iced tea
Alternatives to beer and wine include these homemade soft drinks and new organic juices
Homemade lemonade with thyme
Long, hot sunny days bring with them a requirement to keep properly hydrated. For those occasions when a glass of cold rosé or an icy pitcher of beer might not be the best choice, we’ve been searching for interesting, cooling, non-alcoholic beverages to sip as summer’s run continues.
Home made lemonade is a good place to start – you don’t need a lot of ingredients, and it is ready to drink immediately. Donal Skehan’s recipe (below) marries lemons with thyme, and they’re good companions.
Iced tea, or coffee, can be made at home, without any special equipment. Cold brew – meaning only cold water is added to the leaves or grounds, is the way to go, resulting in a less astringent or bitter drink.
A glass of Earl Grey iced tea with fresh strawberry (€3.25), one of four varieties on sale at Bewley’s Café in Dublin, was a revelation when tasted at the height of the current heawave. There was no discernible tannin and although no sugar had been added, it was a perfectly balanced and interesting drink.
The Bewley’s team recommend using 15g of tea leaves to 750ml of cold water. Stir the tea into the water, leave it to infuse in the fridge for six hours, and that’s all there is to it.
Iced coffee can be made in the same way, though it is recommended that the fine to medium ground coffee be left to brew in the cold water for a minimum of eight hours in the fridge.
Japanese company Hario make a range of glass bottles specially designed for making cold brew tea and coffee at home. The tea version has a filter in the spout to catch the leaves, and the coffee version also has an internal filter that keeps the grinds suspended in the water. Both are available from Amazon and the coffee version is in stock at Brown Thomas for €26.50 (previously €32).
Shrubs, or drinking vinegars are the new kombucha, in some circles. Wild Irish Foragers and Preservers, in Birr, Co Offaly, make nine varieties of shrub, including honeysuckle, gorse petal and wild blackberry. The base is organic Irish apple cider vinegar, which is infused with fruit or flowers, and the shrub is diluted in water to make a long drink.
Kombucha, the slightly sparkling, fermented tea drink that originated in China, can be made at home. You’ll need to get hold of a Scoby (Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast), sometimes called a mushroom, but actually a mother culture. TheNutritionStore.ie offers next day delivery on its kombucha starter culture, which is on special offer for €22.99, but you’ll have to give the first batch 30 days to get going.
The same online source supplies the grains you need to make milk or water kefir, another popular fermented beverage. Otherwise, fermentation enthusiasts tend to be a friendly bunch, who will often share their scoby on request.
If your summer drinks are more likely to come via a real life shopping basket, look out for a new addition to the soft drinks shelves. Stuart Pennefather, sales manager at K&C Norton Wholesale Foods, discovered Galvanina organic juices while attending a wedding in Italy, where they are made.
The juices are mixed with sparkling spring water and sweetened with organic sugar cane. They come in five flavours – orange, blood orange, lemon, pomegranate, and tangerine and prickly pear – and retail at €2.69 for each 355ml beautifully embossed glass bottle.
They are currently available at Best of Italy in Ranelagh, Lotts & Co in Dublin 4, Robbie’s Greengrocer in Kilmacud, Thyme Out in Dalkey and Dollard & Co in Dublin 2, with ongoing distribution to independent food stores nationwide.
For the thyme syrup:
A good handful of thyme
1 part sugar/1 part water
For the thyme lemonade:
1 part lemon juice / 1 part thyme syrup
4-5 parts soda water
Sprigs of thyme
This is a wonderfully refreshing drink. The thyme syrup can also be used for cocktails instead of a sugar syrup. Place the thyme, sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a steady simmer, stirring to ensure that the sugar is completely dissolved. Allow the syrup to cool completely before using it.
Fill a large pitcher with ice and pour in one part lemon juice, followed by one part thyme syrup and the soda water. Garnish with thyme sprigs and swirl them through. Serve straight away.
Bewley’s Earl Grey and fresh strawberry iced tea
250ml cold brewed Earl Grey tea
Slices of fresh strawberry
Place 15g of tea leaves into a glass jug or bottle. Fill the glass bottle with 750ml water. Let the tea brew in the refrigerator for six hours.
Pour the cold brewed Earl Grey tea into a glass half filled with ice, add the strawberry slices and serve immediately.