Sweet tea

Citrus Ginger Sweet Tea (Inspired by The Chefs)

Sweet tea

Citrus ginger sweet tea

The Chefs were a late-’70s/early-’80s indiepop band in the U.K. fronted by a bassist/singer who went by the name Helen McCookerybook (real name Helen Reddington, but AAHH, I love it!). They split up around ’82, but they just released a compilation of their lovely, albeit small, catalog, Records & Tea: The Best of the Chefs, which I learned about last week because I edited a review of it. The record is so much fun, and certainly a precursor to a ton of the indiepop stuff I listen to today. It was also kind of a goldmine for recipe ideas, but a couple songs in particular stuck out to me — the title track of the compilation, and another called “Sweetie.” In “Records and Tea,” there’s a line in the chorus that goes, “Records and tea are all life means to me.” Then “Sweetie” is a super-cute, totally cheeseball (in the best way possible) love song that starts: “I’ve got a passion/ for sweet things/ That’s why I love you/ You’re my sweet dream/ You’re such a sweetie/ Oh I could eat you/ You’re such a sweetie/ I think I love you.” But the way “sweetie” is enunciated, it totally sounds like they’re saying “sweet tea.” It also happens that my “sweetie” is a sucker for sweet things (as am I, obviously), usually in the form of sugary drinks, so I made a sweet tea with green tea, ginger-basil syrup and citrus (mostly just because those things are tasty).

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find either of the above-mentioned songs on the Internet! Although you can hear samples and buy Records & Tea here. But here’s another track from the record:

It’s also worth noting that Reddington is still playing music today, and she keeps a great blog that I got sucked into this week! She also wrote a book that I need to get my hands on, The Lost Women of Rock Music: Female Musicians of the Punk Era, which has an updated, paperback version being released next month.

Sweet tea

Makes about 1/2 gallon. Adapted from Bryant Terry’s awesome book The Inspired Vegan (more on that in a future post).

6 cups water, separated
1 cup raw sugar
1/4 cup fresh basil, plus more for garnish
3-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into thin slices
6 bags green tea
3/4 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice (about 2 oranges)
1/2 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice (about 3 lemons), plus lemon slices for garnish


• In a small saucepan, combine 1/2 cup water with the sugar, basil and ginger. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until sugar dissolves (about 3 minutes). Leave ginger and basil in the syrup and set aside until completely cooled.

Sweet tea

• In a medium saucepan, bring the remaining 5 1/2 cups of water to a boil. Remove from heat, add the bags of green tea, cover and let steep for 30 minutes.

Sweet tea

• Strain the syrup into a pitcher and discard the ginger and basil.

Sweet tea

• Add orange and lemon juice, tea and ice, and let cool in the fridge.

Sweet tea

Sweet tea


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