Rinse berries, then place in a medium sized pan with the sugar and water. Cook over medium high heat until it comes to a boil. Once boiling, turn down the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Over a heatproof bowl or large mason jar, strain the syrup using a fine mesh sieve. Discard the solids and reserve the syrup for the tea.
Rinse out the pan, then add 4 cups of water to it and set it on the stove to boil. Once the water is boiling, turn off the heat and add the tea bags. Let the tea steep for 15 minutes.
Remove the tea bags, squeezing out any excess liquid, then add the baking soda.
Place the remaining 4 cups of water in a large pitcher, then add the syrup and tea. Stir to combine, then refrigerate until ready to serve.
I used a potato masher to break up large berries while the syrup was cooking. It helps to speed the cooking along. If using frozen berries, they will break up much faster.
Filtered water, rather than tap water is best.
The water in the recipe is divided to speed the cooling time. Preferably, the last 4 cups of water should be ice cold.
For serving, I like to use my vintage glass pitchers. They typically hold less and are more heat sensitive, so I use this Rubbermaid pitcher for storage and mixing the tea.
Frozen berries are a great way to garnish the recipe and keep the tea cold for serving.