Vivian's Watermelon Tea


Summer is here. With those scorching temperatures and smothering humidity, we all could use a way to cool off. Here’s our suggestion: make a pitcher of Vivian’s Watermelon Tea. 

Vivian shared the recipe in her book, “Deep Run Roots: Stories and Recipes from My Corner of the South” — “Here’s another confession: I don’t drink sweet tea. Admitting that in a book about Southern food is akin to announcing I’ve just sold my children on eBay, but I prefer the dry tannins of cold black tea to simple syrup over ice. Every now and then, if I’m feeling skinny, I’ll order my tea half and half. That’s half sweet, half unsweet, for those of you who don’t know. This watermelon tea reminds me that but with another, very pleasing dimension not offered by plain sugar. It’s a perfect way to use up a watermelon that has mealy flesh but decent flavor. Let the tea chill in your refrigerator overnight. A small amount of sediment will settle in the bottom, leaving the tea pristine, clear, and cold.” 

Vivian’s Watermelon Tea

1 quart diced watermelon flesh (seeds are fine)
2 family-size Lipton-style tea bags
1 quart water
1 tablespoon lemon juice, optional

In a blender, process the watermelon until completely pulverized. Strain it through a fine-mesh sieve or a large colander fitted with cheesecloth. Discard the pulp and reserve 2 cups of the juice. 

Place the tea bags in the pitcher you plan to serve it from. Boil the water and pour it over. Let the bags steep for 4 to 5 minutes. Remove and discard the bags (although my mom uses them a second time.) Stir in the reserved watermelon juice and lemon juice, if using Chill the tea until you’re ready to serve. Serve over ice. 

Yield: 6 cups

Photo credit: Rex Miller