Black Cherry Iced Tea

This is what I drank after a long hot sweaty bike ride in Beijing.

I have a $25 one-speed from the local Carrefour which I am supposed to leisurely pedal. Cheap one-speeds are not meant to go fast. Sometimes I forget this, especially when I go to my favorite grocery stores that happen to be half an hour away by bike. My tendencies to zip by old men on their Flying Pigeons and come home glowing with perspiration I blame on having commuted to work by road bike on New York's Greenway, alongside the multitude of spandex-clad cyclists. Here, there is no spandex in sight to make you feel the need to ride fast. Everyone just glides gently along with grocery-filled baskets.

So until I learn to slow down, I am keeping a pitcher of something cold and a tray of ice cubes ready in the fridge. Today I cooked down a pound of black cherries, added some lemon juice and sugar, infused the liquid with a bit of star anise, and mixed in some strong black tea. The star anise adds just a touch of unexpected spice to the fruity tea. This batch should hopefully last a few days.

The hardest part is not snacking on the cherries before you start making the tea.


Other summer coolers:

Thai Lemongrass & Ginger Iced Tea

Vodka-Thyme Lemonade

Ginger-Mint Lemonade

Yangmei Iced Tea

Coconut and Lime Lassi, Mango and Cardamom Lassi


Black Cherry Iced Tea Adapted from Food & Wine

  • 2 quarts water
  • 1 pound fresh black cherries, rinsed and pitted
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 whole star anise
  • 5 bags black tea, steeped in 2 cups water
  • Mint sprigs for garnish
  1. Bring the water to a boil in a medium-sized pot. Add the cherries, sugar, lemon juice, and star anise. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until the cherries are almost falling apart. Turn off the heat, mix in the black tea, and let stand for 1 hour to cool.
  2. Strain the liquid through a fine mesh sieve, mashing the cherries with a wooden spoon to extract more liquid. Discard the solids. Transfer the liquid to a pitcher and refrigerate until ready to serve, such as after a long hot summer bike ride.