A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from November 08, 2007
Lebanese Iced Tea

Iced tea is a favorite drink in the South. Sweet tea is sometimes called “the champagne of the South.”

Lebanese iced tea is made with rosewater and pine nuts and is served at Middle Eastern restaurants—surprisingly—in Baton Rouge and New Orleans, Louisiana. Lebanese iced tea has spread to Texas and is now being requested at restaurants throughout the United States. It is not known who invented “Lebanese iced tea,” which appears in print by 1990.


NewOrleans.com
Lebanese Iced Tea
(...)
One of the most refreshing and surprising drinks is Lebanese Iced Tea. Nothing too fancy, Lebanese iced tea is composed of basic sweetened iced tea, and stirred together with the intriguing flavor of rosewater, just a splash. The heady aroma and floral flavor are exotic and refreshing. When done right, the taste is subtle and not too perfumey. Nile Café’s version hits the spot to perfection. Their iced tea has body, good hearty flavor that’s mildly sweet, a slight tang from lemon, the softest whiff of rose and a garnish of crunchy pine nuts for texture and a tasty, rich contrast.

Lebanese Iced Tea
6 ounces of freshly made iced tea sweetened to taste
1/2 teaspoon of rosewater
1 teaspoon raw pine nuts

Pour sweetened iced tea into a tall glass filled with ice.  Add the rosewater and stir to combine.  Sprinkle with pine nuts and serve.

Where Y’At (New Orleans Monthly Entertainment Magazine)
Mona’s Café
Marigny, Uptown, Carrollton, Mid-City
Mona’s fantastic falafels, spicy hummus and killer kebabs can now be found all over the city thanks to a welcome expansion. The exotic Lebanese iced tea is one of the place’s unique trademarks. The service with a smile and the reasonable prices will have you looking for the Mona’s nearest you. 

16 March 1990, The Advocate (Baton Rouge, LA):
Lebanese iced tea (75 cents) was tasty and invigorating. Orange, lemon and rose water were added to the tea. It was sweetened just enough, and we noted pine…

Google Groups: rec.food.drink.tea
Newsgroups: rec.food.drink.tea
From: Bill or Ellen Estevens
Date: 1999/03/23
Subject: Re: green tea with mint

Just a thought: for some odd, wonderful reason Baton Rouge (where I live) is blessed with a great many very good Lebanese restaurants. The beverage of choice is “Lebanese Iced Tea” which is made with black tea, rose water and lemon, with pine nuts floating in it. Great stuff, and very refreshing in our heat here in Louisiana.

Google Groups: rec.food.drink.tea
Newsgroups: rec.food.drink.tea
From: (Bill)
Date: Fri, 21 Dec 2001 03:22:25 GMT
Local: Thurs, Dec 20 2001 10:22 pm
Subject: Re: New Orleans Tea Review

i live in Baton Rouge, sixty miles up the road. While we have a full range of cajun restaurants—real ones—and the coffee consumption herabouts is astronomical, Baton Rouge really likes Lebanese and Greek cuisine (why is a long story. maybe some other time. It wasn’t like this 20 years ago.) There are about twenty really great lebanese restaurants in baton Rouge, where the drink of choice is lebanese iced tea which is quite tasty. We drink it by the gallon. Lebanese iced tea is black tea with lemon and rose water, lightly sweetened, not too cold, with a teaspooon of raw pine nuts floating on the top. Great! Don’t knock it if you haven’t tried it—and I don’t generally care for iced tea since most of what you usually get is either a mix or they haven’t cleaned the dispenser in months and it’s fermenting or something. But no kidding, Lebanese iced tea is different.

Gambit Weekly - Cuisine
RESTAURANT REVIEW
By Sara Roahen
10 08 02
(...)
Learning that the unsweetened, rose-flavored Lebanese iced tea had been made with Lipton was as much a surprise as hearing that those illegible Arabic newspapers had come from Chicago. Jerusalem Deli was one of the city’s first Middle Eastern restaurants when owner Dirar Mousa opened it 15 years ago. If it was exotic then, it’s part of the landscape today, feeding the city’s expanding affection for a cuisine that’s similar in spirit to the soul food of every nation.

Austin Chronicle (October 3, 2003)
The Pyramids
6019 N. I-35 (at Highway 290 East), 302-9600
(...)
Raves go out for the Lebanese Iced Tea ($1.50), sweet and lemony, with a hint of rose water, as well as the Turkish Coffee ($1.95): intense, lightly sweetened espresso with a hint of cardamom.

eGullet Forums
joiei
Sep 29 2004, 08:31 AM
At Mona’s in New Orleans, a great little Middle Eastern Restaurant on Banks, they serve Lebanese Iced Tea. I was wondering if this beverage is something that is regularly served or if it is strictly a signature beverage of that restaurant. They add rose water to the iced tea and then finish it with toasted pine nuts.

I have tried to make it for myself but the amount of rosewater is very hard to figure out. The flavor is just enough to taste it, but not so much it is objectionable. And I never had to add sugar.

The pine nuts gave it a wonderful finish. I guess it could be described as a Middle Eastern version of an RC cola with peanuts.

1 July 2005, New Orleans (LA) Magazine, “Table Talk” by Lorin Gaudin, pg. 28:
Refreshing Lebanese iced tea (basic black tea splashed with rose water and sprinkled with pine nuts) is a fitting counterpoint to all the bright herbs, spices and flavors of Middle Kaslern food.
(Mona’s on Banks Street—ed.)

1 November 2005, New Orleans (LA) Magazine, “Capital Cuisine” by Lorin Gaudin, pg. 48:
If the significant number of Greek-Lebanese restaurants in Baton Rouge has escaped your notice, well, that would be surprising. The local leaders are Serop’s, Arzi’s and Roman’s. We hit several and happily found that the Serop’s on Perkins Road has the original chef from the original Serop’s on Government Street (now La Carreta’s) in the kitchen. Serop’s also has gyro sandwiches, citrusy chicken shawarma, chunky baba ghanouj, silky smooth hummus and the best rose-water-scented Lebanese iced tea - cool, fresh, tart, sweet and gently perfumed, all at the same time.

emerils.com
January 17, 2006
What a Nut
My young son recently asked me about pine nuts, as he fished them out of his glass of Lebanese iced tea. “What are these things?” “Do they come from pine cones?” Okay , okay, here’s the scoop. Tiny pale-colored pine nuts come from the inside of pine cones. Extracting them is difficult and thus the sky-high price tag. Nonetheless, pine nuts have a delicate, earthy flavor. Pine nuts add that elusive flavor to pesto, have a delcious crunch when sprinkled on vegetables and salads. Pan-roasting brings out more of their nutty flavor and added to a fluffy rice pilaf, are a delicious compliment. Raw, pine nuts are also great flavor booster to a glass of lemony, sweet, rose-water laced Lebanese iced tea.

Chowhound - Los Angeles Area
Lebanese Iced Tea
My family and I just returned from a Baton Rouge/New Orleans trip. Our first night in Baton Rouge we ate in a Lebanese and Greek Restaurant (Albasha’s) where we had Lebanese Iced Tea. It was delicious and a perfect way to combat the heat and humidity. Does anyone know of any places out here that serves it? It tasted like it was flavored with rose water and completely unlike anything I’ve ever had out here. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!
mikeyas Aug 15, 2007 08:44AM

Yelp Austin
Lebanese Iced Tea
11/01/2007
Toby M. says:
Hey everyone, I’m asking this on behalf of someone moving here from NOLA. They’ve got a favorite drink: Lebanese Iced Tea. Basically it’s iced tea, rosewater, and some pine nuts. However I can’t find a single place in the yelp directory that lists such a drink. Anyone know where they could find such?

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (2) Comments • Thursday, November 08, 2007 • Permalink


For some reason, Baton Rouge Lebanese restaurants recently stopped adding the pine nuts. Some try to get by with mixing lemonade rose water, and ice tea and serving that as Lebanese iced tea.

Not many people know but there are more Lebanese restaurants here than Chinese restaurants.

Posted by Shall  on  01/15  at  12:22 PM

i drink LOTS of iced tea (half gallon a day or so) and i frequent Mona’s on Banks St, so it’s inevitable i would try to figure out making my own lebanese tea.

FWIW, i think “lebanese” tea is native to new orleans- i’ve never seen it on the menu anywhere else in the country, and a colleague of mine who lived in Lebanon the first 30 years of his life had never heard of lebanese tea until we ate at Mona’s!

so you steep 3 large Community “Iced tea” bags in a gallon of hot water until you get the color you want. then you add about an ounce of orange blossom water to get that awesome smell.  then you add about an ounce of rose water to get that awesome taste.  use a little more rose than orange. you get the amount by trial and error- too much of either, and your tea tastes like soap (i’ve actually experienced this at restaurants).

as far as i can tell, the pine nuts are just a cute garnish and add nothing to the taste. made it with ‘em, made it without ‘em, even left ‘em in the tea overnight, can’t tell the difference.

so, go make some tea!  cheers.

Posted by cliff davis  on  06/08  at  11:07 AM

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