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Having a Tea-rrific Party

Have you ever noticed how important drinks are for entertaining? We set up coffee bars, hot chocolate bars, Bloody Mary bars, Mimosa bars, etc. You can also set up tea bars!

An iced tea bar is a great addition for a brunch, light supper, or special occasion like Mothers' Day in just a few weeks. And they're easy to set up. Start with the tea. Sweet tea is the ONLY iced tea in the South, but for the tea bar, we will just make plain tea.

For a small batch, start with four tea bags steeped in one quart of hot water and then add one quart of cold water for serving. If a larger crowd, just double or quadruple your recipe. I use Lipton black tea as the base and let all the add-ins and syrups enhance the flavor.

Like I said, sweet tea is the ONLY way to drink tea; so you're going to need some simple syrups for your guests. Fruit syrups are especially nice such as raspberry, peach, or lemon; but then herbal syrups also add a nice change and delicious taste to your tea. Raspberry tea is one of my favorites.

Just change the fruit to make any flavor you wish -- strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and more.

In a saucepan add two cups water and one cup sugar. Cook on medium-high until sugar dissolves. Add 12 oz. fresh raspberries and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes.

Remove from heat and strain syrup. Discard fruit. Add syrup to a clean saucepan and simmer an additional 15 minutes. Cool and strain. Serve in pretty containers for guests to add to their tea.

This raspberry syrup may also be added to lemonade, sparkling water, and is yummy in hot chocolate.

Herbal syrups are also a great addition to iced tea such as lavender, rosemary, mint, or basil. Mint is one of my favorites.

Begin with one cup water and one cup sugar in a saucepan. Add 1/4 cup herb leaves. Bring to a boil till sugar is dissolved. Turn off heat and allow to steep 20-30 minutes. Again strain into a pretty bottle for guests to pour.

This is where it gets fun. Start mixing the fruit with the herb syrups for unique combinations:

Strawberry + Basil Raspberry + Mint

Peach + Thyme Blueberry + Basil

Watermelon + Mint Strawberry + Mint

Lime + Ginger Peach + Lavender

Lemon + Lavender Lemon + Rosemary

If you'd rather not make your own syrup, there are plenty to choose from Torani -- 52 flavors I believe.

Another way to serve tea at a get together is in your grandmother's punch bowl! There's just something festive about a punch bowl and the tiny glass cups.

For a delicious tea punch add two quarts of strong tea, one cup sugar, one 12 oz. can frozen lemonade, one 12 oz. can frozen orange juice, and one 46 oz. can pineapple juice. Before serving add one cup ginger ale. For an alcoholic version, bourbon would be a good choice to add.

I didn't receive a punch bowl set for my wedding, but I now have three of them! Besides drinks, you can also use your punch bowl as a fruit bowl, to present a giant salad, or to serve cold summer soups like gazpacho, cucumber, or chilled corn chowder.

Those soups would actually be a very good food choice for your get together. Add a few ham and biscuit sandwiches, some tortilla roll ups, and maybe some crab stuffed mushrooms, and you have a beautiful set up for a tea-rrific party!

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