Green Sun Tea with Lavender, Citrus, Honey & Basil

I'm sharing this recipe with a bit of trepidation, so please hear me out.  Those who love the flavor and aromas of fresh herbs and flowers will need no coaxing to make this tea.  But I can feel the doubtful, quizzical looks that some of you have as you read this......so I coax!  The herbal notes in this tea are very subtle, and the combination of the lavender, lemongrass, lemon, basil, and honey with the green tea results in a complex, nuanced beverage that is delightful.  It is thirst quenching, barely sweet, and even my hubby liked it. (Of course I didn't reveal the ingredients until after his first few sips, as I wanted to avoid prejudice!).  Yes, it has a feminine overtone making it perfect for luncheons, showers, and summer book clubs.  But hey, the guys like it too!

15 cups cool water

10 green tea bags

2 teaspoons dried culinary lavender (not the potpourri kind, it has to be food safe!)

1 Tablespoon dried lemongrass

1/2 cup honey (if you don't care for the flavor of honey, substitute raw or white sugar.  Simmer the basil or mint and lemon zest with water and add stevia or artificial sweetener to the finished tea if you prefer.)

1/2 cup water

2 basil leaves (or 2 sprigs of mint if you prefer)

Juice and zest of one large lemon

Place the water in a clear glass gallon container, obviously a sun tea jug is perfect.  Cut a large square of cheesecloth (a kitchen must-have!) and place the lavender and lemongrass in the center.  Pull up the corners and twist so that the contents can't escape, forming a sachet.  Tie with butcher's twine or string.  Place the tea bags (with strings over the top of the container) and sachet in the jug and cover with the lid,securing the tea bag strings so they can be retrieved.  Set the jug outside in a place that receives full sun and leave for 6-8 hours. 

Immediately, or a few hours before bringing the tea in, combine the honey, water, basil leaves, and lemon zest in a small saucepan and bring up to a simmer.  Remove from the heat and let cool completely.  Add the lemon juice and refrigerate.

Bring in the tea.  Remove the tea bags and sachet and discard.  Place a tea strainer over the opening and pour the honey mixture into the jug, straining out the basil leaves and zest.

Stir well and serve over ice.  Keep refrigerated.

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