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Make-Ahead Party Punches : Citrus- and Tea-Based Coolers Ideal as Light Refreshments

September 22, 1988

When you're hosting a birthday brunch you'll want to prepare as many menu items in advance as possible: It's the key to successful entertaining. These cool, make-ahead citrus-tea based refreshers, attractively served, are sure to please the crowd.

Tea, lemon juice and your favorite berries blend beautifully in Lemon-Berry Tea Punch and Blueberry and Lemon Cold Brew Ice Tea. The tea, juice and fruit flavors mingle overnight in the refrigerator, creating an intensity of taste that isn't lost even when served over ice.

To set the party mood, serve in a punch bowl and garnish with Fruited Ice Ring. It will keep any punch chilled and has eye appeal when garnished with lemon slices, berries and mint.

LEMON-BERRY TEA PUNCH

2 cups fresh or frozen strawberries

8 cups cold water

12 four sided tea bags

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

1/3 cup lemon juice

3/4 cup dry white wine or white grape juice

1/2 cup creme de cassis liqueur

1/2 cup sugar

Fruited Ice Ring

Puree berries and 1 cup water in food processor or blender. Pour into large pitcher. Add tea bags, remaining water, lemon zest and juice and stir. Cover and chill at least 6 hours or overnight. Strain, then stir in wine, liqueur and sugar. Pour into punch bowl and serve with Fruited Ice Ring. Makes 16 servings.

Fruited Ice Ring

Water

Lemon slices

Strawberries

Mint leaves

Fill ring mold 1/3 full with water and freeze until partially frozen. Arrange and press lemon slices, strawberries and mint leaves into ice and freeze again until garnish is fixed in place. Gently fill mold with additional water and freeze until solid. Just before serving, unmold ice ring and place fruit side up into punch.

BLUEBERRY AND LEMON COLD BREW ICE TEA

1 1/2 cups whole blueberries

12 four-sided tea bags

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

Juice of 1 lemon

2 quarts cold water

2/3 cup sugar

Additional blueberries

Lemon wedges

Finely chop blueberries in blender or food processor. Place in 2-quart glass jar or large pitcher with tea bags, lemon zest and juice and water. Chill at least 6 hours or overnight.

Strain mixture, then add sugar. Serve in ice-filled glasses and garnish with skewered blueberries and lemon wedges. Makes about 8 servings.

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