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Iced tea drinks can be many things, from super sweet to super boozy. But any way you tweak iced tea, it’s one of the most refreshing sips around (and sometimes it can even be dessert). These 12 iced tea recipes will see you through summer.

Tea is one of the most versatile items in your cabinet, whether your tea time persuasions lean classic black, grassy green, or no-holds-barred herbal. (And if you’re anything like me you have a motley assortment of all of the above at the ready.)

Steeping it and sipping it is a fine way to honor it, but it is capable of doing much more, especially where refreshing coolers, frozen treats, or inventive cocktails are concerned. Long Island Iced Tea is aptly titled to look like its refreshing namesake, though it contains not a lick of real tea. When actual tea goes to bat in your cocktails, then you can really get pinky-up about the experience.

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As spring leans in and your tea habits turn from soothing and steamy to invigorating and icy, we offer you 12 ways to upgrade your iced tea for a tea time that is nothing short of prime time

1. Asian Iced Tea

Asian iced tea recipe

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Ginger and sake partner with basic black tea for an easy but spirituous summer refresher served tall. Batched for a crowd, it’s strong enough to use as a party punch and serve in 2-ounce portions over ice. Get our Asian Iced Tea recipe.

2. Tea and Whiskey Highball

Tea and Whiskey Highball

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Tea and whiskey together have a natural 3rd musketeer: a front porch. A rich, smoky style of whiskey such as an Islay malt from Scotland like Laphroaig, or a robust single-cask Kentucky bourbon like Blanton’s work equally well here. Lapsang Souchong can also offer a deep, smoky flavor if you’re into it, but you can substitute any other black tea. Mint and orange slices offer a classic look; you can choose whether or not to let the neighbors know that the tea is seriously spiked. Get our Tea and Whiskey Highball recipe.

3. Mint and Lime Iced Tea

mint and lime iced tea

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If you like a minty tingle without a boozy buzz, this iced green tea with a hint of mint and sweetness and lots of zesty lime juice is your new favorite summer sipper. Get our Mint and Lime Iced Tea recipe.

4. Grand Marnier Tea Cooler

summer tea cocktail with Grand Marnier

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Iced tea meets macerated orange zest and orange-infused Grand Marnier for a cooler that works as well for tea time as party time. Get our Grand Marnier Tea Cooler recipe.

5. Almost Arnie

limoncello Arnold Palmer recipe

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Golfer Arnold Palmer drank a blend of iced tea and lemonade, a drink that became known, aptly, as the Arnold Palmer. Here, citrus-flavored rum and limoncello stand in for the lemonade, for a drink you could almost bring on the green with you. Get our Almost Arnie recipe.

6. Virgin Pimm’s Cup

virgin Pimm's Cup mocktail

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A classic Pimm’s Cup is a cooler made with ginger soda and Pimm’s No.1, a gin-based liqueur with additional botanicals and a hint of sugar whose precise ingredients are known to a precious few. To approximate its complexity, botanicals such as juniper, coriander, and grapefruit mix with dealcoholized wine, which is then mixed with iced tea to give the whole thing a backbone. Get our Virgin Pimm’s Cup recipe.

7. California Milk Punch

California milk punch recipe

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Milk punch is one of those prestidigitation techniques that bartenders love, where curdled milk is used to add richness and also clarify a drink. Green tea syrup contributes here for a knockout rum and pisco cocktail for those in need of a drink and a science experiment. Get our California Milk Punch recipe.

8. Milk Tea with Tapioca Pearl Ice Pops

milks tea tapioca pearl ice pops

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Iced tea on a stick! Sweetened condensed milk stands in for any cream or sugar you might typically add to your tea, to give a custardy texture to the classic tea flavor. Tapioca pearls are just fun, and why not, since it’s basically a bubble tea popsicle. Get our Milk Tea with Tapioca Pearl Ice Pops recipe.

9. Hugging Thyme

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Chamomile is a perfect ambassador for tea in cocktails, with its gentle floral, spice, and honey notes. Here those flavors are echoed by elderflower liqueur and given an elegant, velvety texture with egg whites. Get our Hugging Thyme recipe.

10. St. Cecilia’s Punch

Champagne punch recipe

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Was St. Cecilia the patron saint of genteel southern punch bowls? I’m going to go with yes. Green tea and pineapple are indeed a match made in heaven bringing tropical and earthy notes together for a sensational flavor that can stand up to dark rum, brandy, and champagne in one glass. Get our St. Cecilia’s Punch recipe.

11. Sour Cherry and Green Tea Granité

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Don’t let the deep red color fool you into thinking this is something deeply sweet. Green tea with sour cherry and lime juice served as literal ice is as fresh as it gets. Get our Sour Cherry and Green Tea Granité recipe.

12. Chai Frozen Milkshakes

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I mean…this is a fine dessert recipe that requires very little explanation, other than to suggest that nobody would probably be mad if a little whiskey also got involved. Get our Chai Frozen Milkshakes recipe.

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Header image courtesy of Joana Sonnhoff/EyeEm/Getty Images.

Pamela Vachon is a freelance writer based in Astoria, NY whose work has also appeared on CNET, Cheese Professor, Alcohol Professor, and Diced. She is also a certified sommelier, voiceover artist, and an avid lover of all things pickled or fermented.
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