Reflective of the English (tea), French (champagne and cognac), and West Indian (rum) influences on Carolina Lowcountry culture, St. Cecilia’s Punch was introduced at the St. Cecilia Musical Society in Charleston in the early eighteenth century and is still as popular today at elaborate weddings and social occasions as it was three hundred years ago. Certain locals insist that the punch be made with only green tea leaves, dark Myer’s rum, and genuine French champagne, and that nothing will do but to serve it over a huge block of ice in a silver punch bowl. All I can say is that the delicious punch deals such a wallop that, after a few cups, nobody really cares about the variety of tea leaves, the brand of rum or champagne, or the pedigree of the serving vessel. Since using simple ice cubes will only dilute the punch’s flavor and strength, however, I do try to find room in the freezer to freeze blocks of ice in large plastic tubs. Of course, if you own a deep freeze, so much the better.
Place the lemon slices in a large glass bowl, pour the brandy over them, cover with plastic wrap, and let marinate overnight.
In a large saucepan, combine the water and sugar and bring to a boil over moderate heat, stirring. Place the tea leaves in a large bowl, pour the sugar water over them, and let cool. Add the pineapple to the lemon-and-brandy mixture and strain the cooled tea into the mixture.
Pour the fruit-and-brandy mixture into a large silver or glass punch bowl, add the rum, and mix well. When ready to serve, place a large block of ice in the mixture, add the champagne and club soda, stir to blend well, and ladle the punch into silver or glass punch cups.
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