Last time we discussed sparkling waters. A bigger topic than one might imagine. The seem to be the hot new thing out there. Water can still be tough for some, sparkling or still. Another alternative is the vast array of herbal teas.
Tea in general is a type of plant. Varieties include: black, green, oolong, white – to name a few. For our purposes, we are only talking about herbal teas otherwise know as herbal infusions or tisanes. These infusions are caffeine free naturally. They come from all different kinds of plants but contain no actual tea leaves. The neat thing about herbal teas is the flavor spectrum from sweet, floral, tart, spicy and earthy. There is generally something for everyone in the herbal tea section of your grocery. In addition, you may find some interesting varieties at specialty tea shops, online stores, health food outlets and locally blended brands.
Herbal teas can be served hot or brewed and chilled over ice. With warmer weather approaching, keep herbal tea in mind as a chilled beverage. What shows up in my tea pitcher in the refrigerator varies, depending upon my mood. I like all kinds of tea! Lets sort through some basics.
Fruit teas can be lovely served chilled. From the Celestial Seasonings line of Zinger teas, lemon, tangerine, wild berry to the amazing line up of hibiscus based teas from Republic of Tea, you won’t be disappointed in your quest for fruity summer refreshment. The blends you can find now range from simple to complex. My favorite find last summer was Republic of Tea Hibiscus Lychee and Tazo’s Warm Apple Cinnamon. Chilled? Yes! The apple cinnamon tea made a fantastic refresher over ice.
Spicy teas are also great hot or cold. From the old standby of Constant Comment from Bigelow Tea (available in decaf) to a fine variety of chai teas, many strong flavored teas exist. These are great for those giving up their beloved coffee. I love brewing my chai or mint teas double strength. If you haven’t had chai, I highly recommend it! It’s a blend of Indian spices that can be based in black, green or rooibos teas. For our purposes, look for a chai that is rooibos (red tea) based- as this African bush contains no caffeine and offers a mellow flavor base for the spices to mingle with. One of my favorite chai teas is available from a St Paul, MN based tea company. It is a loose tea that requires filtering via a bag or a tea ball. I think Dr. Esselstyn would like this one too ;) Toothless Tiger Chai a spicy blend of aromatic spices. Served hot or cold – it’s a great way to start the day. Mint teas also make a fantastic iced drink. My all time favorite is RefreshMint from Tazo Tea. A blend of spearmint, peppermint and tarragon, perfect hot or cold. You can find this one at Starbucks too – which makes a great grab and go item.
There are so many flavor avenues to explore, from chamomile to licorice, jasmine to lemon ginger. Be prepared to be amazed at the selection, once you really start investigating. For those that say tea is too weak and doesn’t replace their coffee…I say, give it a chance. Brew it stronger. Use two tea bags instead of one. Make sure your water is hot enough, that you are steeping it long enough. Especially if you are brewing it to serve over ice. Remember that it will dilute when adding it to ice, so you may want to brew it stronger by adding more bags. When I am making an herbal tea to keep in the refrigerator, I brew about 6 or 7 bags to fill my half gallon pitcher. If I am brewing it hot to serve over ice immediately in a glass I brew 2-3 bags in around a cup and a half of water for a large ice filled glass.
Again, remember to mix it up – use half chilled tea and half sparkling water for a fizzy tea experience. Add slices of citrus fruit for a fresh twist – or add frozen mango chunks for ice cubes!
E2 Team Ami