It's real iced tea made with green tea leaves. But it is also an infusion because there's more to brewed tea in this drink. This iced lemongrass tea is made by mixing green tea, lemongrass brew, sugar syrup and just enough kalamansi juice to cut through the sweetness. It's a refreshing and delicious drink that's easy to make. But a few tips can turn the drink from good to great.
If using loose tea leaves (like I did), steep the tea in very hot (but not boiling) water for no more than five minutes. If you want a stronger brew, use more tea leaves but steep for the same length of time rather than steeping a smaller amount for a longer period. Steeping tea in hot water for too long makes the drink bitter; four to five minutes are enough.
Loose green tea leaves are highly recommended but if you prefer the bolder flavors of oolong (black tea), go ahead and use that instead. Any tea is good. Note, however, that the flavor of the mixed drink will vary depending on the kind of tea used.
What about tea in bags? You can use them too. Green tea with jasmine will make a very aromatic drink. Earl Grey is made with oolong tea. And, as with loose tea leaves, remember not to steep the tea bags in hot water for too long either.
For the lemongrass brew, use a ratio of one lemongrass stalk (white portion only) per cup of water. Lightly pound the stalk to release the essential oils and flavors. Place in a pot, pour in the water, boil for about ten minutes then leave to steep and cool. Brews made with herbs like lemongrass do benefit from long steeping.
For the sugar syrup, simply boil together equal amounts of sugar and water until the sugar is dissolved. If you want a more pronounced lemongrass flavor in your drink, add a stalk of lemongrass, lightly pounded, to the water and sugar before boiling. Cool the sugar syrup before using.
Pour the cooled tea and lemongrass brew into a pitcher. Stir in enough sugar syrup to sweeten according to your preferred level of sweetness.
Stir in kalamansi juice, one tablespoonful at a time, and tasting after each addition.
Add ice, stir and serve.
Tip: To add extra brightness to the flavors of the drink, stir in a tablespoonful of lightly pounded mint leaves to the drink before serving.