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Having spent several years living in the deep south, I know that sweet tea is an institution. You can’t get it just anywhere, which makes it more special than the sum of its qualities. Sun tea is another institution in many households. The Captain is currently on a sun tea kick over here, adding the mint from our garden. There’s just something about that warm jug of water magically transformed the sun’s rays. You can’t get it in any restaurant. When it’s hot out, nothing refreshes quite like a glass of iced tea. But if the caffeine doesn’t work for you or sweet tea is just too sweet, there are many other ways to enjoy your iced tea.
You can buy decaf black tea to reduce your caffeine load. Or try a white, red or green tea. A jasmine green with a touch of honey is divine! To make just a glass, boil a small amount of water (less than half of your glass size) and then steep your serving of tea. Don’t let your green tea steep too long and get bitter! Remove your tea bag or ball and into the warm water stir your honey. Fill your glass with lots of ice and then pour the sweetened tea over it. You would just multiply this process for a big pitcher or jug, the keys being a stronger brew, sweetening while warm and icing to dilute.
For larger batches, I also love my french press! It’s perfect for iced tea. I make a double-strength batch and pour it over ice if I’m ready right away for some sipping. The rest can cool in the press (on the counter or in the fridge) OR it can be mixed with honey or sugar while warm and then iced and stored. The french press makes it so easy to use loose teas and herbs.
That brings us to the fun of herbal blends. You can add herbs into your traditional tea leaf brews or only use herbs for completely caffeine-free and even medicinal blends. The variations are endless and can really be tailored to what your family needs. Perhaps you already have something in your garden or on your shelf? Look around for these common herbs:
Mint (a classic)
lemon balm (refreshing and calming)
chamomile (great for kids)
ginger (great for tummies)
orange zest (a little zing)
rose hips (vitamin C)
Try these individually to really appreciate each flavor, or combine them for fun, variety or medicinal value.
I really love hibiscus. It looks fruity and juicy and is thirst quenching. I don’t need to sweeten it, but love to add a twist of lime. Sometimes I will mix it with a kid’s juice to reduce the sugar content of the juice. Iced tea and lemonade is a classic, but you can experiment with different combinations and make your own kid (or adult) friendly fruit juice cocktail.
Here are two sugar-free ways of sweetening a tea or herbal blend. For the first, add green, whole leaf stevia to your brew. Let it steep with your leaves or flowers. You’ll need to experiment to see what amount is best for you, but it’s a great way to try stevia in it’s natural form. Another sweetening method is to add licorice root to your blends. Licorice lends enough sweetness to satisfy my kids. Try that and you may not need any additional sugar.
Have extra tea? Or did you make it a little too sweet? Turn it into ACTUAL iced tea. That is, turn it into ice! You can freeze it into cubes so that you can ice future batches without diluting it.
OR make iced tea pops for a real summer time treat!
Do I need to say it? Making your own iced tea is WAY WAY cheaper than buying it. So try it. It’s easy and YOMMY.