I know I keep mentioning the heat down here in Texas, but until you’ve experienced it yourself, you just can’t imagine how very hot it is. I was honestly shocked when Aimee mentioned that where she lives in Canada, there was a chill in the air on Wednesday. A chill? We’re only just hitting the hottest part of the summer here, and it will likely continue this way for at least another month. These are the days I wish I lived much, much further north.
Luckily, I have a survival plan for these hot and humid times. Back in July, Amy taught us all about the importance of water, its benefits, and tips for making sure you’re getting enough. I love drinking water – I drink more plain water than anything else – but sometimes plain water gets a little old, and I just need to shake things up. That’s where iced teas come in!
While a regular black tea such as orange pekoe makes for some delicious iced tea, I actually prefer to mix together different blends of herbals, greens, and reds. Read on for some of my favorite combinations.
Hibiscus and Passion Blend
Hibiscus tea is one of my all-time favorites. It’s great by itself, but it’s also a wonderful base for adding other teas and other flavors. Passion tea is a great addition to hibiscus. I like to use a 50/50 blend of the two. The flavor is fruity, fresh, and clean.
Hibiscus and Orange Blend
This blend also uses hibiscus tea, but the orange gives it a distinctly different and bright flavor. The two are a wonderful pair. Another equally yummy option is blood orange. Equal portions of both teas produce a great balance.
Hibiscus, Mango, and Orange Blend
Throw some mango into the mix, and hibiscus orange tea becomes a tropical getaway in your own kitchen. I love the addition of mango when I want something a little sweeter, more like a fruity poolside beverage.
Peach and Mango Blend
Everyone loves peach iced tea, but the mango just takes it to a whole new level of deliciousness.
Pomegranate and Blood Orange Blend
This is one of my new favorites. Blood orange is a popular flavor now, and deservedly so. Combine it with pomegranate and you have a party on your tongue.Photo by Isaac Wedin
Pomegranate and Vanilla Blend
You may not often think of vanilla as a good flavor in your iced tea, but why not? We love it in ice cream! Pomegranate and vanilla are a sweet, fruity, and smooth combination, with an added richness from the vanilla.
Green Tea and Spearmint with Honey
This flavor is directly inspired by a local tea company here in central Texas, Sweet Leaf Tea. Oh goodness, how I love this one. I use about a 1:3 ratio of spearmint tea to green tea, and then sweeten with honey while it’s still warm, so the honey dissolves. It’s divine on ice.
Plain rooibos is a red tea, similar in flavor to plain black tea but more mellow and somehow lighter and more refreshing. It is herbal, so it contains no caffeine. You can substitute rooibos for hibiscus in any of the blends above, and you will taste more of the other tea than you would with the hibiscus. It’s a refreshing way to have a more traditional tasting tea or fruit tea without the caffeine, or the dry-mouth that the tannins in black tea sometimes leaves behind. (Bonus: Hot caramel rooibos in the wintertime with a little milk is almost like liquid candy – yum!)
Making Iced Tea: My Method
I’m no trained expert, but I make a lot of iced tea, so here’s how I do it.
Boil a little water in your kettle. You don’t need much; a couple of cups will do. While you’re waiting for it to boil, place your tea into a large pitcher, either half-gallon or gallon sized, depending on what you think you’ll drink.
I use both loose tea and tea bags; if using loose tea, I use a tea strainer. You could also use cheesecloth to create tea bags for the loose tea. Also, insert a metal instrument into the pitcher, such as a metal spoon. This will absorb the heat from the boiling water so your pitcher doesn’t crack.
Photo by Anthrocopy
When the water has boiled, pour it into the pitcher and make sure your tea is covered. Let it steep for awhile. Purists will tell you not to let your tea steep for longer than a few minutes, or it will become bitter. This can sometimes be the case, but more often than not I get distracted and don’t get around to dealing with it until a half hour has gone by, sometimes longer. I usually sweeten my tea, so if there’s ever been a bitterness to it, I’ve never noticed.
Once it’s steeped for awhile, remove the tea bags or strainers and the metal spoon. If you want to add honey, do it now, while it’s still warm. Then fill up your pitcher the rest of the way with water. That’s it! Store it in the fridge, serve over ice, and enjoy.
You will soon discover whether you like your tea stronger or weaker and how much tea to use. A good rule of thumb is that four regular-size teabags will make one quart. But it’s better to make your tea too strong, because you can always add more water.
Do you have any favorite iced tea blends? Please share your recipes with us!