Posted by: Sarah | June 30, 2011

Thursday Tea Party: Maine, Water & Basil

The Book:

So I’m still delightfully entrenched in J. Courtney Sullivan’s family saga Maine. Housetraining Gilly has eaten into my reading time, which is perfectly fine by me. This is the kind of book you want to savor anyhow. I wait for Gil to go down for one of his half a dozen naps (oh, the life of a dog!) then I pick up Maine to continue reading with him dozing in my lap. This being my repeat book from last week, I thought I’d add my husband’s reading to the tea party. He’s presently making the two-day trek from Chicago to El Paso. His three-month military obligation in the Windy City has been fulfilled so now he’s reporting back to his permanent duty station here at home. Before he packed out his apartment and took to the road, he asked me for an audio book recommendation. I was more than happy to oblige. He rarely reads for leisure. He’s got a stack of medical journals that occupy his time. And even on vacations, his reading preferences are usually something of the Jon Krakauer or Jack Kerouac variety. So when he asked for my literary suggestion, well, I ran to my bookcase lickity-split and rattled off titles like a Navajo code-talker. Sadly, many weren’t available on audio. A few he deemed too ‘chicky’, for which he received a five-minute lecture about books either being good or not good and the sex of the author or characters inconsequential. But then, honestly, I can’t imagine him reading Stockett’s The Help or Hoffman’s The Third Angel no matter how much I may have enjoyed them. So I moved on to titles I thought might fit his taste and be plot propelled enough to keep him awake on the highway. Sara Gruen‘s Water for Elephants was the final audio pick, though I had to convince him that despite Robert Pattinson on the book’s purchasing avatar, it was NOT a book about a vampire circus carnie. Lord Almighty.

The Tea:

Since El Paso has an abundance of sunshine and consistent temperatures of over 100 degrees, it’s the ideal location to make traditional southern sun tea. Easy as 1-2-3: four black tea bags (I used Lipton) + 1 ½ quarts of cold water into a glass jar on the sunny side of the porch for 2-3 hours, pour over ice and you got sun tea. While we always had this sitting around in Virginia, my grandma makes it in Puerto Rico too. It’s from her that I got the idea to add a twist. She will sometimes throw a couple cut lemons or passion fruit into the jar for added flavor. I don’t have either of those, but what I do have is basil. Loads of it. I love the stuff and sometimes go out back just to run my fingers through the bush so the smell sticks while I work. On a whim, I plucked a handful of leaves and tossed them in with the tea bags and water. I forgot about the jar, so it sat there all yesterday afternoon. When I let Gilbert out to run around before bed, I removed the basil leaves and tea bags and moved the jar into the fridge overnight. By this morning—deliciousness! That sweet, peppery herb made a world of a difference. I’m sipping it now with lots of ice and am pretty sure I’ll finish the whole pitcher before the day’s end.

Sarah’s Sipping Summary:

Still reading Maine, I can imagine Alice having a jar of summertime sun tea sitting on the porch of Briarwood Road cottage. I’ll have to make this for my husband when he arrives. He’s a big iced tea drinker and I think he’d love the basil addition.

Cheers, friends! Sarah

Click over to Miss Beth Fish Reads and Miss Anastasia for more Thursday Teas. 



  1. Wish I could be there to taste the tea — I never tried basil in tea, but it sounds delicious so I think I will! (p.s. please post pics of the pup; he’s getting so big!!)

  2. Sounds lovely, do you sweeten your tea? I love sweet tea, but I’m the only one in my family that enjoys it.

  3. Shoot. I wish I had read this earlier in the day — I made sun tea yesterday but didn’t think of adding herbs. Must give that a try!

  4. What a great idea. I have a basil plant in my kitchen window (one of the few plants I can keep alive!) and plenty of sun outdoors. Sun tea is a staple around here. Will make a fresh batch tomorrow and give your recipe a try!

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