It was a hellishly hot day in Los Angeles when I stopped into CITY restaurant to visit my friends who own it, the wonderful and eccentric chefs Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger. Everything about them and their restaurant is unique and appealing, including the iced tea they served to revive me.
We recreated the recipe the next week at China Moon, and it’s a house favorite that has a steady, addicted following. It is spicy and herbal in the most compelling way, with a last-minute hit of sweetness that comes as a big surprise. Lots of verbiage for a glass of iced tea? Try it and see.
Scrub the lemons thoroughly under warm running water with a light liquid soap and an abrasive scrubber until squeaky clean. Slice in half crosswise.
Add the water and ginger slices to a heavy non-aluminum pot. Holding each lemon half over the pot, extract as much juice and pulp as possible by vigorously twisting with a fork. Drop the pulped lemon halves into the pot. Bring to a boil over moderate heat, then immediately remove from the heat, cover, and let steep undisturbed for 30 minutes.
Strain the tea through a fine-mesh strainer, and while it is still hot, stir in the honey. Let cool to room temperature, then chill in the refrigerator.
Serve over ice and garnish with mint sprigs, or top with boiling water for a hot drink.