When it gets warm, many of us turn to cold beverages to cool our bodies. One of the most popular and healthy cold beverage among many of us is iced tea. However, with the bottle-iced teas sold in tea spots, you find artificial sugars and preservatives added to them. This has made a beverage that was once seen as a healthy option slowly turning to be more of soft drinks.
If you read labels of the so-called ‘iced teas’ in popular tea joints, you will notice that the only ingredient you recognize in the tea are tea leaves. From preservatives to artificial powdered sugar and flavors, these teas have them all, and the dangers of drinking such beverages outweigh the health benefits of tea in them.
However, when brewed properly, iced tea is one of the healthiest beverage you can take on a warm afternoon as it is rich in flavonoids (antioxidants). These antioxidants, which are plenty in freshly brewed tea, can provide many health benefits in the body- from warding off aging signs and reducing risk of health diseases to boosting metabolism and immunity. (1)
Of course, this is good information to hear, but the question remains- how can I make my own iced tea to avoid the unhealthy options? Making iced tea is not a complex process, but again, it is not as simple as refrigerating a cup of tea prepared from tea bags.
For iced tea to taste great, you must learn to brew it right. Cold brewing is the quickest and easiest way to make iced tea, but it doesn’t result in the healthiest of beverages as it would turn out if you brew tea in hot water.
Yes, tea leaves are tea leaves, despite it staying on the shelf for years, but the taste might not be the same. Freshly packaged tea will taste better than tea bags that have been in your pantry shelf for more than a year. This is because of the oils in tea leaves that makes it leave an after-taste break down over time.
In most cases, tap water has too many minerals which can interfere with the flavor in your tea. That’s why it is advisable that you use filtered water or spring water so that the flavors in your tea can come out better.
You don’t want to use too much tea as the flavor will be overly intense, and you don't want to use too much water as your tea flavor will be flat. In most cases 1 ½ - 2 teabag of tea per cup for larger tea leaves such as green, chamomile, and white tea is enough, and only 1 teabag per a cup of tea with more intense flavors such as black tea will taste right.
Over-steeping tea leads to the release of tannins from leaves, which makes your iced tea darker and bitter. Lighter teas such as green and white teas require 2-3 minutes to steep right, while herbal darker teas need 3-5 minutes to release all its flavor. Herbal teas can steep for more minutes since they rarely over-steep.
Stronger teas such as oolong teas and black teas should be brewed under higher temperatures to ensure they extract all the flavors and content right. Therefore, by brewing them using boiling water, they will extract all the content.
However, lighter teas such as white tea, fruit-mixed teas, and green tea, only need hot water for them to steep right. Using boiling water for these teas will make the flavor overly intense, and they will be bitter.
This is the practical part of making iced tea.
Here is the general procedure;
To make your iced tea more special and flavorful, here are three different ways to make iced tea;
For standard iced tea, you start with 3-4 black tea bags for a teapot to get a topical note.
Add two cups of water to a pot and let it boil. Turn off heat and add black teas to your boiling water. If you are using lighter tea varieties, allow your water to cool for a few minutes before adding your teabags. To get better flavor, use a teapot with a lid to keep the temperature inside under control. This will ensure your black tea releases all the flavor.
Allow the tea bags to steep for a maximum of 5 minutes. Brewing for more than five minutes will make your tea become bitter or develop an overly intense flavor. For most people, 3 minutes are enough.
After steeping your tea and allowing it to cool for about 10 minutes, add two cups of cold water to your tea and keep it in your refrigerator for 2 hours before serving.
When serving, pour several ice cubes to your cup of cold tea. You can also add a cup of lemon juice to it or garnish with mint leaves.
For creamy teas, the vanilla blend will give you the right tea texture and flavor. For instance, you can try black tea mixed with French vanilla. Vanilla blend counteracts the bitter taste of black tea, thereby resulting in a smoother, tasteful black iced tea.
Here is how to prepare it;
Boil four cups of water and add 3-4 vanilla-flavored tea bags. Allow the tea to steep for about 2 minutes and pour it to a teapot to cool
Add lemon slices into the tea or 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. You can add granulated sugar or honey as a sweetener to your hot tea before it becomes cold. You can make it more flavorful by adding a dollop of vanilla ice cream when serving in each glass.
This is prepared using fruit-infused syrup or fresh fruits. Fresh fruits are the best if you want to keep your tea healthier. Syrup should be used when you don’t have fruits in the house.
The good thing with this type of iced tea is that you can use different varieties of fruits, including passion fruits, cherry, raspberry, strawberry, and peach.
Here is the procedure to prepare it;
Boil 2 cups of water and steep 2-4 tea bags for 3-5 minutes. Let it cool and add two more cups of cold water. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours.
You can add honey or sugar to make your black tea sweeter. After that, add a cup of your desired fruit. You can even add a cup of mixed fruit juice. Pineapples, kiwis, grapes, apples, and apples can also be added to this tea.
Mix the fruit with tea to make a smoother blend. Add a few ice cubes to each glass to make the drink more chilled. You can garnish with mint or basil.
With that in mind, let’s wind up this guide by discussing the benefits of taking iced tea;
Iced tea offers similar benefits as regular black tea since it has the same amount of antioxidants, catechins, minerals, vitamins, and polyphenol. It is healthiest when served without sweeteners or when served with lime or lemon as this means it contains fewer sugars and calories.
Here are the benefits of iced tea;
Due to its low caloric content (unsweetened), iced tea may help with weight loss, especially if you are used to drinking sugar-heavy beverages such as soft drinks and sodas. Iced tea can help you feel refreshed and fuller without consuming more calories. (2)
The antioxidants in tea stimulate the functioning of the immune system, thereby helping the body to defend itself against infections and pathogens. Fruity iced teas can further strengthen the immune system because of vitamin C. (3)
Various studies have claimed that tea and tea compounds such as EGCG may play a role in fighting cancer. The effects apply to different types of cancer, and this has been proven to a certain degree. (4)
Maybe you have never wondered the benefits of adding more manganese to your diet, but it is important to know why manganese is important. Manganese helps promote quicker wound healing, supports your metabolism, and strengthens your bones. (5)
For you to get all the benefits of drinking iced tea, keep it fresh and free of artificial sweeteners. If you have to add a taste to your iced tea, consider adding something natural and healthy such as raw honey or lemon. Avoid fruit syrups and processed sugars.
We hope that you will now be able to make different variants of iced tea. While you can get it prepared for you in your local tea spot, making it means you know exactly what has gone into your cup of iced tea.