Something momentous happened this weekend: the long-awaited summer finally arrived. One minute it was raining torrentially and the next it is blue skies, blazing sunshine and intense heat. Not that I am complaining – we are very much going with the flow and keeping our fingers crossed that the sunshine lasts. And everyone else appears to be on board this (heat) wave. Everywhere you look there’s spontaneous picnics in the park, people sunbathing on their front yards and balconies… folk trying to soak up as much Vitamin D as humanly possible. Because who’s to say how long this weather will go on for? We managed to squeeze a picnic and two barbecues in one weekend which is more than we have had in May and June combined.
One thing’s for sure though – when the heat gets intense I am never without a ice-cold drink in my hand. And much as I love cocktails, it is best to stick to something non-alcoholic while the sun is shining to avoid getting dehydrated and headachy. This hibiscus and redcurrant iced tea is just the perfect summertime drink – intensely refreshing, gorgeously vibrant and naturally caffeine-free too. Hibiscus tea tends to be a bit too bland on its own so I have added some homemade redcurrant syrup to intensify the taste and colour. You will need to add some sweetness too – agave syrup works best for me – but I like to keep it fairly tart as I usually end up drinking gallons of it!
We shared the iced tea and some delicious Higgidy goodies with our lovely neighbours who have a much more welcoming garden – ours is currently almost entirely plant-free following the recent makeover. Anya loved the Higgidy Little Ham Hock & Petit Pois Quiche so much she has made me promise to serve it again soon. I don’t need much arm twisting – I have been a big fan of Higgidy pies and quiches since the kids were tiny. The feta and red pepper rolls were also very popular – I am always really impressed with the vegetarian choices the Higgidy kitchens cook up. Check out the full range over at higgidy.co.uk and look out for promotional packs for a chance to win Joules picnic prizes.
Hibiscus and Redcurrant Iced Tea
- 300 g | 10.5oz frozen redcurrant or mixed red berries
- 3 heaped tbsp hibiscus loose leaf tea or five teabags
- 5-8 tbsp agave syrup or more, to taste (or use sweetener of choice)
- juice of 1 lemon
- chilled soda water or filtered water to dilute the tea
- 1 large orange sliced, to serve
- fresh mint leaves to garnish optional
- Prepare the tea – bring 1 litre (4 cups) of filtered water to the boil and pour over the tea leaves. Leave to steep for 15-30 minutes then strain and discard the leaves. Leave the tea to cool completely, transfer to suitable jug and chill in the fridge overnight.
- Put the berries, lemon juice and agave syrup in a jar and add a little hot water. Muddle the berries, cover and chill in the fridge overnight.
- Strain the syrup and set aside. You can use the berries to stir into porridge or overnight oats.
- Combine half the syrup with the hibiscus tea in a large pitcher and stir together. Add the orange slices and plenty of ice. Taste and adjust the sweetness or add more syrup if you like – remember the taste will be further diluted when you serve.
- Serve on the rocks, top up with chilled soda or filtered water and stir.