Ginger, Lemon, and Rosemary Sweet Tea

Ginger, Lemon, and Rosemary Sweet Tea Glass

Last weekend a client asked me to make a non-alcoholic drink for a party.  I did a little research and stumbled across this recipe for a non-alcoholic spritzer on theKitchn website.   It was everything you would want in a drink:  full of flavor, refreshing, and interesting enough to not miss the alcohol.

Ingredients for Tea

The flavor of the drink , which is primarily composed of sparkling water, comes from a simple syrup infused with orange, lemon, and rosemary.  It’s yummy stuff and stored in a mason jar in my fridge, it didn’t last long.  Before the week was out,  I found myself in need of making another batch.

Juiced Lemons and Orange


Local honey

Simple syrup in its most basic form is equal parts sugar and water.  Brought to a boil so the sugar completely dissolves,  you can use simple syrup to sweeten anything from tea to cocktails and it stores for weeks in the fridge.  While useful, made in its simplest form, it’s kind of boring.

Strips of Lemon Zest

Use the side of a spoon to peel ginger

It’s easy to jazz up though.  In the fall, when the sudden change in temperature, demands warming with a little bourbon, I infuse simple syrup with slices of ginger and add a spoonful to bourbon to take the edge off. In the winter, I make a batch of simple syrup infused with cinnamon sticks, cloves, and allspice for an exotic and aromatic syrup to stir into hot tea.     And in summer, I attempt to keep my exploding mint plant in check by using handfuls of mint leaves to make a mint simple syrup for mint juleps and strawberry mojitos.

Ginger Slices


After infusing


Strained ingredients


Makes about 1 1:2 cups simple syrup

The possibilities for infusions are endless which is why when I went to make sweet tea today, I didn’t worry if I had enough ingredients. I simply looked in my fridge, took stock of what was on hand, and set about making this syrup.  I built upon the simple syrup that I had made last week from theKitchn website, but added slices of ginger for extra zing and only used one orange as that was all I had.  The substitution of honey for some of the sugar is a eureka move; it softens the syrup and adds nice complexity.  My batch of simple syrup came together in less than 15 minutes and required only about 5 minutes of hands-on time. I stirred it into iced tea and garnished the glass with several lemon slices and a sprig of rosemary.  Only one sip and I knew that I’d be making another batch soon.

Sweet Tea for a Hot Day

Ginger, Lemon, and Rosemary Sweet Tea – Printer Friendly Recipe
Makes 1 quart of sweet tea

1 quart (4 cups) of your favorite unsweetened tea, chilled
½ cup ginger, lemon, and rosemary simple syrup (recipe follows)
1 lemon, cut into thin slices
4-6 rosemary sprigs, for garnish

In a pitcher, stir the simple syrup into the tea.  Serve the sweet tea over ice in glasses with 2-3 lemon slices and a sprig of rosemary.
Ginger, Lemon, and Rosemary Simple Syrup
Makes about 1 ½ cups

While the skin of ginger may seem tough, you can easily remove it using the side of a spoon. 

Juice from one orange
about 10 thick strips of lemon zest
Juice from two lemons
¼ cup peeled ginger slices
6 (4-inch) rosemary sprigs
¾ granulated sugar
¼ cup local honey

In a small measuring cup, combine the juice from the orange and the lemons. Add water to equal 1 cup and pour the mixture into a small saucepan.  Add the lemon zest, ginger slices, rosemary sprigs, sugar, and local honey.  Stir to combine.   Bring the mixture to a boil stirring frequently until the sugar dissolves.  Remove the saucepan from the heat and let the syrup sit and infuse for at least 10 minutes.  Strain the syrup and allow to cool.  Store in an airtight container (I like to use a mason jar) for a week in the fridge.


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