Mint condition

The first time this Northerner ordered iced tea in a restaurant south of the Mason-Dixon, we didn’t understand the funny looks from other diners when we stirred in a spoonful of sugar. One sip made it clear: This was sweet tea, and the sugaring had already been done. Now, for some there’s just a little too much sweet in sweet tea. Soup to Nuts owner Kathy Kildea admits that neither she nor her husband is a big fan of sweet tea, “but this tea is an exception!” Look for Kildea serving up her signature Citrus Mint Tea every Saturday at City Market, along with lemonade, cinnamon rolls, breakfast crescent rolls, spanikopita, salsas, dips, and a selection of frozen dinner entrees. During the week, Kildea’s culinary treats are available at her kitchen and custom catering shop at 1110 East Market St. There she serves breakfast and lunch from 8am to 2pm Tuesdays through Saturdays. The menu includes BBQ and chicken-salad sandwiches, taco salad and weekly specials that she e-mails to customers. In addition, you can pick up a frozen dinner entrée or two, such as vegetarian curry, chicken cacciatore, or, if they’re available, Kildea’s chicken pot pies and quiche, which are, she says, “sort of the things I’m semi-famous for.” And don’t forget to mix up a batch of tea to go with your meal, sugar! – Pam Jiranek

Soup to Nuts’ Citrus Mint Tea

6 quart-sized tea bags            2 oranges, sliced
About 4 oz. fresh mint            2 lemons, sliced
    (20 or so stalks—use leaves and stems)    4 limes, sliced
8 cups boiling water            3 cups sugar
Place tea bags in heatproof pitcher or bowl. Add fresh mint, crushing leaves and stems to bring out the flavor. Heat water to boiling, and pour it over tea and mint. Let steep for at least 30 minutes.
    Put citrus slices in a standing electric mixer bowl with a paddle attachment. (A hand-held mixer won’t work for this job.) Add the sugar to the fruit, cover mixer and bowl with a towel (to keep fruit in the bowl and limit splashing), and mix on low speed for about 5-7 minutes. As it mixes, the pulp and juice will separate from the peel and give you a syrupy concentrate—plus you get the added flavor of the essential oils from just below the surface of the peel. (If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can just juice the citrus, mix the juice well with sugar, and add it to the tea mixture. But, says Kildea, “you’ll miss all of those essential oils!”)
    Place a colander in a bowl or pot large enough to contain the citrus juice and the tea/mint mixture. Strain the fruit mixture through the colander (you’ll still get some pulp through), and then pour the warm tea/mint mixture through the citrus peels. This helps “rinse” all the citrus yumminess from the peels. Discard tea bags, mint and peels from the colander, and use the liquid as a concentrate. This recipe should yield about two quarts tea concentrate: add an equal amount of water to taste, then pour over ice and serve. You can easily adapt this recipe to your taste, using more or less mint, sugar or fruit.

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