Summer shows it's bright shiny noggin' in early June and warming drinks are cast aside in favor of iced coffee, sugary soft-drinks, iced tea, or icy fruit cocktails. In search for refreshing drinks that are non-alcoholic, but lend well to the addition of spirits, folks have traditionally gone for soft drinks or a sugary base that is neither good for you nor does it satisfy the thirst.
My thought as the season began to warm, and the apple cider supply diminished for the season, was to find a good drink that was refreshing yet unique. I tried several mixes, but the one variation we finally hit upon that fires on all cylinders was Cranberry Iced Chai.
Once cooled, I pour the tea through a strainer into a serving container. Mine just happens to be a 1 gallon plastic pitcher because it's easy to fill, handle, and clean. After pouring the tea into the pitcher, I rinse the teapot out and fill it with cranberry juice. I use the same container since I want a 50/50 combination and this makes it so much easier to simply use the same pot in which I steeped the tea. I have tried 100% cranberry juice, cranberry juice cocktail, cranberry/apple mix, and cranberry drink (with added sugar). I strongly prefer straight cranberry juice, but it's hard to tell the difference in this drink between 100% juice and a descent blend. A cheap blend, or one with a lot of added sugar will be instantly obvious.
Once mixed, chill thoroughly. Add ice to a tall glass and pour a drink that people will come back for and then ask what it is. Although not a drink to be made in an instant - it is certainly easy to make ahead of time and keep in the fridge for up to a week.