When I say "iced tea," I really mean "cool tea," because I don't put ice in drinks (it's bad for digestion). But you know what I mean!
June is National Iced Tea Month, so I thought I'd take a sec to share some iced tea ideas and links with all y'all.
Get a little Indian flava into your life and try chai! There are pre-mixed black teas with chai spices added. I like Stash and Yogi, and have both around the house. But when I find myself out of pre-mixes, I have successfully made chai by adding whole pickling spices (one of my great culinary cheats, that stuff) to black tea and letting it steep. I can't tell you how much, you'll need to experiment yourself to find the amount you like.
For a really different drink, try a real traditional chai, cold, with milk and honey. You can either use concentrate, like Oregon Chai, or make a very strong spiced tea yourself, dissolve honey in it, let it cool, and add milk. It's a great way to get your kids to drink their milk.
Green teas are lower in caffeine than black teas (which are lower than coffee). Consequently, you can drink more of it. I don't believe in putting sugar in green tea. It spoils it. So if you like your tea sweet, I'd stick with black. Oolong, a step between green and black, is all right cold, but really it's more of a hot tea to my taste.
Going half and half tea and fruit juice. Not only does this allow you to stretch one serving of juice into two or even three servings, but it also replaces straight sugar if you like your drinks sweet.
I like adding soda water to tea, and even tea with juice. It's a great replacement for pop. And speaking of fizzy...
Kombucha is a fermented drink you can easily make yourself, but if you can't wait, you can now find bottled kombucha in health food stores.
Tuesday I shared one idea with you for a summer tonic tea that's really good cold as well as hot. Louisa's favorite herbal tea right now, both cold and hot, is fresh mint and lemon balm, both of which we have growing in our yard in abundance. She likes grabbing a handful of each and bringing it to me in the kitchen. Herb teas also take well to the fizzy and fruity treatments above, and try experimenting with green tea and herb mixes. I find for my own taste that herbs don't mix as well with black teas.
Please share your ideas and recipes with us, too!
It is true that brewing your tea in the sun can be a health hazard, but I have found that black teas brew so quickly in the sun--and since caffeine is a deterrent to microbial growth--I'm not worried about it. I do, however, make my 100% herbal teas with boiling water and then allow them to cool rather than brewing them in the sun. Remember: I Am Not a Doctor. Use common sense.
Lynn Siprelle is the editor of The New Homemaker.