Non-Alcoholic Smoky Citrus Punch
Traditionally, punch is a libation laced with spirits, featuring a blend of sugar, citrus, and spices. However, this variant takes a different path, omitting the alcohol and amplifying the presence of its core ingredients. The inclusion of smoky Lapsang souchong tea imparts a unique depth and character to the punch, though you can also use alternatives like Earl Grey, Darjeeling, or a robust green tea. Similarly, you can swap the oranges in the lemon-orange oleo-saccharum (a mixture of muddled sugar and citrus)for seasonal citrus fruits such as satsuma, mandarin, or blood oranges.It's essential to kick start the preparation of this punch a day before serving: While some of the tea is brewed hot before being added to the lemon-orange oleo-saccharum, cold-brewing the remain derensures that the final punch boasts deep flavor, smooth drinkability, and a nuanced profile instead of excessive astringency. A combination of tonic and soda water provides the punch with effervescence and a quinine bitterness,effectively balancing the tea's tannins.
- The day prior to serving, peel the lemons and oranges. Place the peels in a medium bowl or a large jar, reserving the fruit.Add the sugar and use a muddler or the end of a rolling pin to work the sugar into the peels until they become slightly translucent, which should take about2 minutes. Allow it to sit at room temperature for at least 2 hours or overnight.
- In a pitcher or a large glass jar, add 3 teabags or 3 teaspoons of loose-leaf tea. Pour in 3 cups of water, cover, and refrigerate for 8 to 12 hours. Afterward, remove and discard the tea bags if you used them or strain out and discard the tea leaves through a fine-meshsieve lined with cheesecloth. (Cold-brewed tea can be refrigerated, covered,for up to 5 days.)
- Bring 1 cup of water to a boil. Add the remaining 1 tea bag or 1 teaspoon of loose-leaf tea. Steep for 4 to 5 minutes,then remove the tea bag or strain out the loose-leaf tea. Combine the brewed tea with the citrus-sugar mixture and stir to dissolve the sugar. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer, pressing on the solids. Cover and chill it in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour. (Alternatively, you can store the mixture in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.)
- When you're ready to serve, juice the reserved lemons and oranges (you should have approximately 1 cup of juice; if necessary,juice another lemon to reach 1 cup). In a large punch or serving bowl, remove the prepared ice wheel from its mold. Add the lemon and orange juice, the reserved citrus-sugar-tea mixture, and the cold-brewed black tea. Pour in the soda water and tonic water, and gently stir to combine. Ladle the punch into individual punch glasses, serving each with a slice of lemon and orange.
To create the ice ring or block at least a day in advance (up to a few days), add distilled water to fill your chosen mold (e.g., a silicone Bundt pan) halfway up the sides. Freeze overnight. You can also incorporate decorations by pouring a few inches of distilled water into the mold and layering it with edible decorations of your choice (e.g., citrus slices, seasonal berries and fruit, fresh herbs, whole spices, edible flowers). Freeze for a few hours, then add more water to the mold until it reaches halfway up the sides and freeze overnight. If you encounter difficulty removing the ice from the mold, briefly dip it in hot water or run it under hot water to facilitate loosening.