Yerba Maté Lemonade

May 31, 2009

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Here in the midwest, we do a lot of things to anticipate and encourage the arrival of summer. We put coats and sweaters in the back of closets, we exchange soup broths for salads, we plant gardens.  And a bold few, before the weather merits such behavior, turn off the furnace and pull out the shorts and sandals.

But there are some things which cannot precede the summer. There are some things that can only be brought on by the arrival of the season itself.  And when–mysteriously, miraculously–these things are finally drawn up out of the arsenal, you can know with certainty that summer is here to stay. For me, a fresh squeezed lemonade in the kitchen is the most honest-to-goodness sign that the warm weather has returned like the long-lost prodigal it is, and has come to beg my forgiveness for abandoning me through the heartless winter months.

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Summer, if Yerba Maté Lemonade is your peace offering, then I forgive you.

This triumph of lemonades and I crossed paths at Mars Cafe in Des Moines and is the most elegant and refined lemonade I have ever had the honor to meet.

Ingredients*

-1/4 cup Yerba Maté loose leaf tea

-3-4 Lemons

-Honey or desired sweetener, to taste

-Water or ice, to dilute to one gallon

Boil a kettle of water and pour the hot water over your tea leaves (use a french press, or a medium bowl). steep the tea for 4-5 minutes then strain out the leaves. Halve the lemons and squeeze into the tea through a sieve or strainer. Stir in your sweetener. Then dilute to taste with water and ice.

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*A Few Notes:

-My mantra for this recipe: “To Taste”

-I initially used 7 lemons. Sour. Tart. Painfully mouth-puckering. I recommend starting with 3 or so lemons and adding to taste.

-I love this lemonade with yerba maté, but any good and earthy tea will do, so pick a flavor you like. I had a roasted maté on hand, which made this quite a robust and nutty lemonade. For a more light and clean beverage, stick to the plain maté. If you do not have access to loose leaf, tea bags are a great alternative, I suggest 4-5 bags.

I am sure after your first glass, this lemonade will work its charm on your winter-chilled heart, and bring summer back into your good graces!

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