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« First day of school | Main | Mushy bananas »

Homemade flavored iced tea

One of my personal definitions of slowing down and being intentional this year is going to be an attempt at eliminating as much “instant” as possible from our kitchen and diet.  Two hopes are imbedded in this effort: health and frugality.

This week I am taking on What We Drink.  I won’t go into all of the dirty, guilty details of what I am working to replace here.  Suffice it to say that BPA is a concern on one hand and on the other is the recycling bin overflowing with silver cans, featuring a sporty red swish.

Today if you stopped by for a visit, I would be able to offer you a tall glass of iced tea, BPA-and-sporty-red-swish-free.  And you would have a number of delightful and naturally flavored options to boot.

I spent Saturday evening working on three batches of tea.  The process is incredibly simple: simmer a few cups of water and a few tea bags until the brew is dark and strong.  Pour into a quart glass jar, cool, and store in the fridge.  When you want a cup of tea, add a small amount of the concentrate to a glass of ice and then fill with water to dilute.

No magic formula. Just experiment until you find what you like.  I have found that four to six tea bags makes the intensity that we enjoy and that the tea needs to simmer for at least 30 minutes, more if I am infusing it with flavor. Here are our two current favorites: 

Vanilla Cinnamon Decaf Black Tea  When adding the tea bags to the simmering water for this one, I throw in a cinnamon stick.  When the tea is dark and I can smell the cinnamon from a fair distance, I strain out the tea bags and cinnamon and stir in about a fourth to a half of a teaspoon of vanilla extract and about two teaspoons to a tablespoon of agave nectar for sweetness without the blood sugar spike.  The sweetness will be a faint suggestion, just taking away the bitter edge of the vanilla extract.  Each batch gets diluted into numerous servings, keeping this a low-cal beverage option.

 Peach Ginger Green Tea  For this tea, I simmer the water and tea bags and a chopped peach in one pot.  Then I simmer about two inches of ginger root in another pot of water. No need to peel the ginger. Just wash the root and chop it into about half inch chunks.  When both solutions are dark and strong, strain both and mix them together.  Sometimes the peach adds enough sweetness and sometimes I add a small amount of agave. 


I have found that I need to simmer the peach tea until the peach really has begun to fall apart in the mixture in order to get a peachy flavor in the tea.

I am open to any new ideas or challenges.  What is your favorite tea?

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Reader Comments (6)

Try this for a healthy, not-too-sweet, tasty drink:

Mix the juice of 2-3 lemons with a teaspoon full of salt and 2-4 big spoons of sugar (or other healthier sweeteners, I only tried it with sugar till now). Add 1,5l of cold water and some ice cubes. Perfect for hot days, hard work or sports.

September 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDiandra

Diandra, thanks! This sounds very refreshing!

September 14, 2009 | Registered CommenterEmily

Lovely! I love the idea of using fresh peaches. My iced teas fall a little more in the instant category - I use the flavored bags from Trader Joes and top off with some flavored sparkling water. There is a really good iced spiced chai tea I made once and added milk instead of water to the concentrate) (Darjeeling, cardamom, ginger, and some other spices I can't remember - but you get the idea).

But really I want to know how you made those cool labels : )

September 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa H.

Melissa, the chai sounds divine! The labels are made with my handy Brother label maker. I find it pretty useful... at school and at home. Thanks for your comment!!!

September 14, 2009 | Registered CommenterEmily

Keeping it ultra simple and conserving electricity at the same time, you can try using hot water and the sun. Just fill the pitcher with hot water from the tap, pop in a few tea bags (I use various green teas) and let sit for a few hours in the sun. From what I am told using the sun makes it healthier. I'm not sure how this is possible but it sounds good. Also, by keeping the temperature lower and letting time do it's thing, supposedly tea is less bitter. I don't add any sugar, but I do add plenty of ice and sometimes dilute it with water if I'm drinking it later in the day to decrease the amount of caffeine.

BTW- I make iced coffee the same way: Fill pitcher with hot water and add the appropriate amount of coffee grounds right into the water. Let steep for 12 - 24 hours. Strain thru strainer that would be in your typical electric coffee maker. Add plenty of ice and milk or half and half and Walah! Amazing iced coffee!

September 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

Karen, Thanks for these great ideas. I am going to try the coffee this weekend! How fabulous would it be to have a glass of iced coffee waiting for me when I get home from school!

September 22, 2009 | Registered CommenterEmily

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