Yes, yes, yes we know…water is the best thirst quencher.
But when the heat is on and you are flopping in the garden or planning a get together with friends, or you just fancy something with a little more zing, herbal iced teas are a great way to cool down and a great alternative to regular teas and sodas which are full of caffeine, sugar and sweeteners.
Not only that but herbal teas possess recognised health benefits. Nature provides us with a real bounty of flavours in the form of herbs and spices – so the possibilities are endless.
Getting the basics right
There’s no magic to making herbal iced tea. The basic preparation is the same for regular hot tea. Where many people fall down is in not using enough herbs. For iced teas you will want to make a slightly stronger brew – and the best way to do this is to use more herbs rather than stewing your herbs for a long time. Doing this means you get the bright herbal flavour and colour you want rather than the dark bitter dregs (this is a good tip for regular iced tea too!)
You can buy some great glass jugs with integrated strainers for making large quantities of tea. But you can also just make it in a pan. Remember, however, if you are are heating the water and mixing the herbs in a pan, it needs to be a non-reactive pot (non-aluminium) type.
For a pretty presentation, try serving in a large glass jug with dried fruit bits such as orange peel for colour and flavour or perhaps a thin slice of lemon, orange or lime. You can even use frozen fruits like strawberries, or blueberries which add colour and flavour without diluting the tea. don’t be afraid to experiment.
Here’s a few ideas to get you going.
Iced Mint Tea
The menthol content of mint make this a naturally refreshing tea. It is a well-known home remedy for relieving digestive complaints such as indigestion, nausea and gas. Peppermint also has a calming effect. it’s also a diaphoretic, which means it induces sweating and so helps cool the body down (that’s why those Southern Belles enjoyed sipping Mint Juleps on the veranda). Peppermint is sweeter and has a stronger flavour than spearmint, but for a more complex mint taste you can mix peppermint and spearmint together.
Bring 500ml (16fl oz) fresh, cold water to a boil. Turn off heat, stir in peppermint, cover, and let steep for 5 minutes. Strain through cheesecloth-lined sieve, pressing on herbs with spoon to extract liquid. Stir in honey until dissolved and let cool.
Serve over ice, garnished with a piece of lemon and sprig of mint. Serves 4.
A subtle relaxing blend to help you unwind a the end of a long hot day. The added spices and lemon juice give it a nice summery kick.
Bring 500ml (16fl oz) fresh, cold water to a boil. Turn off heat. Add chamomile, cinnamon, and cloves; let simmer for 5 minutes. Strain and stir in honey and lemon juice and let the mixture cool.
Pour over ice and garnish with fresh lemon slices. Serves 4.
South African Punch
Rooibos (pronounced ROY-boss) is a caffeine-free tea brewed from a shrub that only grows in South Africa. This delicious, vanilla-scented tea has a naturally gorgeous orange-amber colour. Rooibos is also celebrated for its many health benefits. Here’s a festive way to serve it.
Bring 500ml (16fl oz) fresh, cold water to a boil. Turn off heat. Add the rooibos and let steep for 5 minutes. While tea is still hot, add sugar and stir until dissolved; combine with the remaining liquids. Serve over plenty of ice and garnish with mint leaves, cherries or apple and lemon slices. Serves 4.
If you are still feeling adventurous here are some other herbs that make great iced teas:
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