Colin and I went to an overpriced Spanish restaurant for our anniversary two years ago. The meal started off well, until something (el diablo?) possessed me to order stuffed calamari in its own ink. When the black mass in charcoal liquid was set before me, I looked at Colin's plate of empanadas with fevered envy.
But my sadness didn't last. How could it? The sangria at this place dulled all pain. It was so good that we still talk about it two years later. The secret, we learned, was orange soda. This high end restaurant mixed red wine, fruit, cointreau, brandy, and a whole other mess of liquor, and then topped it all off with some Fanta/Sunkist for good measure. You couldn't taste the soda, but the combination really worked.
Now I don't know about you, but I can't go around drinking sangria all the time. Happily, when I was in New York, my stepmother made me her new iced tea concoction, and though it lacked both alcohol and orange soda, it was absolutely delicious and just as memorable.
I thought about calling it Teagria or Fruit Tea, but Barbara scoffed at both names. Do you have a better one? It's essentially iced tea pumped up with citrus fruit, and it's infinitely variable depending on the teas and fruit you happen to select.
Just stay away from lapsong souchong, a smoky tea that overwhelms everything else in the pitcher. It doesn't taste like squid ink, exactly, but the "oh, why did I do this?" effect is almost the same.
Recipe for Teatotaler's Sangria
Here's a summery twist on a classic cold beverage: iced tea mixed with fresh fruit a la sangria. Vary the sugar according to personal taste, use your favorite teabags or an eclectic mix, and please don't forget to garnish with fresh mint. It really does make a difference.
Makes 2 quarts
8 cups cold water
5 teabags (mixed, if desired)
1 orange, halved
1 lemon, halved
3 key limes or 1 standard lime, halved
up to 1/2 cup sugar (or to taste)
mint sprigs, for serving
In a large pot, bring the water to a boil. Turn off heat and add teabags. Squeeze in juice from all citrus fruits and toss spent fruits in pot. Add sugar. Stir.
Let steep 15 minutes, uncovered. Strain into a large bowl. (Discard teabags and peels.) Let cool to room temperature.
Transfer to a pitcher and refrigerate until very cold. Serve over ice, with fresh mint sprigs.