Iced tea has been a family standby for decades. Whether home brewed or store bought, this cool and refreshing beverage is ;a perennial favorite.
But what options are available when plain iced tea turns monotonous? Sodas are unhealthy and loaded with sugar. “Fruit juices” often contain less than 10% real fruit juice. Packaged, store bought drinks are expensive as grocery and gas prices rise.
Tea is a wonderful source of natural antioxidants, has zero calories, and is readily available at any store. Luckily there are several ways to create fun and unique variations on home brewed iced tea.
Make It Tasty And Healthy
Add fresh fruit or fruit puree. Lemon is traditional, but experiment with your favorite flavors!
Raspberry, strawberry, blueberry, orange, tangerine, kiwi, mango… Throw them in a blender and you are good to go. The options are as endless as your imagination and your grocer’s produce section.
We like our untraditional nettle iced tea steeped with fennel, mint, and lemon!
Make a tropical-flavorediced tea by combining kiwi and mango, or make a mixed berry cooler with ripe summer berries (for more information on getting the most out of those berries when they’re in season, check out this post).
Take fresh fruit, remove any skins, pits, or seeds, and crush in a mixing bowl or blend in a mixer. Add your unsweetened iced tea, then strain before serving.
Freeze to Please
Forget ice cubes and watered-down drinks – make juice cubes to chill your drink AND add new flavors!
Take your favorite fruit juice like apple, grape, berry, or even a blended mixed juice like V8 Splash or Ocean Spray. Pour into ice cube trays and place in the freezer until cubes are frozen solid. Whole berries also work great!
Pop the juice cubes out of the tray and into your glass of iced tea, and you’ll have a cool tea with great taste. It’s not only delicious, it’s healthier too, since you’re drinking less of the sugary juices without sacrificing flavor!
Make two or more trays of cubes with different juices to create tasty new combinations, just by mixing and matching cubes within each glass!
You can also freeze the tea for a nice treat.
Get some matcha (powdered green tea), mix it up, add some sweetener, and freeze. Serve with milk for a tasty but healthy snack.
Borrow a Tip From Chain Restaurants: Bar Mixes
Ever wonder how popular chain restaurants make those yummy flavored iced teas?
Here’s the trade secret:
Yes, the same mixes used for alcoholic beverages can be used to make your iced tea unforgettable. Check your grocery store for mixers (the kind with no alcohol included) that are commonly added to martinis, mojitos, margaritas, and other mixed drinks.
Trendy flavors like pomegranate, sour apple, and pear are available from brands like Stirrings, Rose’s Cocktail Infusions, and Daily’s. Add to iced tea, mix with a spoon or in a shaker, and enjoy a non-alcoholic version of the hottest drinks.
Or, make your own. The homemade rhubarb syrup in this tasty mojito recipe makes a wonderful addition to iced tea as well.
Kids Are Cuckoo For Kool-Aid: Use Tea Instead of Water
If your kids are crazy for powdered drink mixes like Kool-Aid, make a healthier version by using iced tea instead of water!
Add roughly half the recommended amount of powdered drink mix to a glass or pitcher of iced tea, and you’ll have a fun, kid-friendly beverage with more flavor and less sugar.
So Many Types of Tea
Of course, let’s not forget about the tea itself. There are dozens of different kinds of tea leaves available.
Black tea is most commonly brewed for iced tea, but why not experiment?
Brew any variety of tea the same way you normally brew iced tea, or if you’re short on time, look for bottled iced teas at your grocer.
Iced green tea is a delicious substitute.
Add some juice from a honeydew melon or cantaloupe to iced green tea for a sweet treat that’s sure to please!
White tea is sometimes slightly more bitter in taste, but it makes a great iced tea as well.
Finally, caffeine-free teas like rooibos can also be brewed to make iced tea.
No matter what you choose, be sure to store them properly in the right containers to maintain their amazing flavors and aromas!
There’s no limit to the fun that you can have with tea this summer!
Photo credit: Shutterstock.
About Lynne Jaques
Lynne is a stay-at-home mother of two boys. As a former US military officer and the spouse of an active duty US military member, Lynne enjoys traveling the world (although not the moving part!) and finding new cuisine and methods of preparing food. She also has the habit of using parenthesis way too much!