Blackberry lavender iced tea recipe for National Iced Tea Day

Today is National Iced Tea Day, and we are ready for some fine summer sipping. You can take this basic recipe and mix and match fruit, spices, and herbs to your heart's content.

For the extra adventurous, a couple of black peppercorns added to the simple syrup create a really cool spice note. The ice cubes are optional, but not much extra work, adding an extraordinarily high slick factor. [jump]

What you need:

Simple syrup
1 1/2 cups water
½-1 cup sugar (depending on desired sweetness)
1 cup blackberries (6-oz. package)
1 Tbsp. fresh or dried lavender 

2 family-sized tea bags (6-8 regular tea bags) English Breakfast or Earl Grey work well
6 cups water

Ice cubes frozen with blackberries or pansy flowers (optional)
Lemon slices

What you do:

Syrup: Bring water and sugar to a boil. Add the berries, crush with the back of a wooden spoon. Simmer for 3 minutes, turn off heat. Add lavender. Let stand covered for 10 minutes. Strain through a cheesecloth liner or very fine sieve.

Fancy cubes make you look like a pro.

Fancy cubes make you look like a pro.

Tea: Boil 6 cups of water. Remove from heat, add tea bags, cover and let steep for 5 minutes. Remove tea bags.

Ice cubes: Put one blackberry or pansy in your ice cube tray. Fill halfway with water, freeze. Once frozen, fill the tray to the top with water, leaving you with the fruit or flowers in the middle of the cube.

Pour tea in a pitcher and add simple syrup. Chill tea for roughly 2 hours. Serve with a lemon wedge and fancy ice cubes.