Blackberry Iced Tea


3 cups fresh or frozen blackberries (if frozen, thaw before using), plus additional berries for garnish
1 1/4 cups of sugar, or agave syrup (more or less to taste)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint plus additional sprigs for garnish
Pinch of baking soda
6 bags of black tea
4 cups boiling water
2 1/2 cups cold water

In a large pitcher, combine the blackberries and sugar. Use a wooden spoon to crush the berries and mix them well with the sugar. Add the chopped mint and the baking soda. Set aside. Place the tea in a large heat-proof measuring cup. Add the boiling water and steep for 3 minutes. Spoon out the tea bags and squeeze them into the tea. Discard the tea bags. Pour the tea into the blackberry/sugar mixture. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour. Pour the tea through a mesh strainer and discard the solids. Return the tea to the pitcher. Add cold water and stir well to dissolve sugar. Cover and chill until ready to serve. Makes about 7 1/2 cups. Start to finish time is 1 hour and 10 minutes (10 minutes active). To serve, pour into glasses filled with ice and garnish with mint and fresh berries on short wooden skewers.