Healthy Iced-Tea TwistsHealth
Creative and flavor-packed, these iced teas offer sweet relief from the heat while boosting your health with good-for-you antioxidants and vitamins. Plus, because most of these brews get natural sweetness from fresh fruit, there’s no extra sugar or unwanted calories going into your cup. Skip premade mixes or store-bought bottles of tea, which can contain hidden sweeteners and additives. Instead, freshly brew tea at home to produce the best taste and greatest health benefits.
One of the most traditional iced-tea options, black tea comes in many varieties, but you’re probably most familiar with Earl Grey and English breakfast. Loaded with theaflavins, a type of antioxidant polyphenol, black tea may help reduce the risk of cancer and the hardening of arteries. It also typically has the highest caffeine content of any type of tea, so these brews are ideal for those summer days when you need a little pick-me-up.
- Strawberry-Mint: Let vitamin-C-rich strawberries do the sweetening in this iced tea that also incorporates mint, a widely-used digestive aid that delivers a bright, fresh flavor. To make it, bring 8 cups of water to a boil over high heat. Remove from heat and add 8 black tea bags. Allow them to steep for 5 minutes before removing the bags. Add 1 cup sliced fresh strawberries and ½ cup mint leaves to a pitcher. Crush the fruit and mint with the back of a wooden spoon to release their flavors. Then, add ice and 8 cups brewed tea, stirring to combine.
- Rudy Red Grapefruit–Rosemary: Combine this rosy citrus (which is brimming with immune-boosting vitamin C) with rosemary (whose aroma may help your ability to concentrate) for an energizing and savoy iced tea. To make it, add the zest of two ruby red grapefruits and a few rosemary sprigs to a pot of 8 cups just-boiled water, along with 8 black tea bags. Steep for 5 minutes and strain into an ice-filled pitcher, stirring in freshly squeezed juice from one grapefruit for even more refreshing citrus flavor.
- Lavender-Vanilla: The scent of lavender may help to lower heart rate and blood pressure, ushering in a more relaxed state. Harness this calmness with a lavender-infused iced tea. Add 2 teaspoons culinary lavender (find it in the spice aisle of your market) and 1 vanilla pod, split halfway lengthwise, to 8 cups of just-boiled water, along with 8 black tea bags. After 10 minutes of steeping, remove vanilla pod, using a knife to scrape the pod’s seeds back into the tea. Pour the mixture into an ice-filled pitcher and serve. Ahhh!
This lightly flavored tea is rich in antioxidant polyphenols called catechins that may help reduce the risk of heart disease and help promote healthy cholesterol. Green tea’s delicate taste provides the perfect backdrop for letting intense fruit flavors shine.
- Pomegranate-Blueberry: Antioxidant-rich pomegranate joins forces with equally powerful, cancer-fighting blueberries in this vibrant tea that tastes as delicious as it is healthy. Add 6 green tea bags to 6 cups of just-boiled water; steep for 5 to 10 minutes. Into a large pitcher, add 1 cup fresh blueberries. Crush the fruit with the back of a wooden spoon. Add ice, 2 cups of pomegranate juice, and 6 cups of steeped green tea. Stir and serve.
- Sparkling Mango: Super-sweet mango isn’t just tasty, it’s also rich in vitamins A and C, which help promote eye health, and it may help lower blood-sugar levels. Add 6 green tea bags to 6 cups just-boiled water; steep for 5 minutes. To serve, pour 1 cup mango nectar into an ice-filled pitcher with the brewed green tea. Top with 1 cup of seltzer.
- Watermelon-Lime: Rich in lycopene, which may protect cardiovascular health, watermelon might just be the official superfruit of summer. For this tea, add 4 green tea bags to 4 cups just-boiled water; steep for 5 minutes. Purée 6 cups of chopped seedless watermelon and strain. To serve, pour 4 cups watermelon juice, 4 cups green tea, and the juice of 1 lime into an ice-filled pitcher. Stir and serve.
Oolong teas offer a rich, smoky flavor (you may recognize it as the tea commonly served in Chinese restaurants). It contains catechins that research has shown may help boost your metabolism and burn fat faster. The ingredients in these iced teas stand up perfectly to oolong’s intense flavor.
- Hibiscus: This dried flower (typically found in the tea aisle at the grocery store) gives a bright magenta hue to the tea, and it has been shown to help lower blood pressure. Add ½ cup dried hibiscus, 4 oolong tea bags, and 1 tablespoon of honey to 8 cups of just-boiled water. Steep 5 minutes; strain into an ice-filled pitcher. The result is a savory and tart iced tea.
- Homemade Chai: Although it’s spicy, chai tea is actually soothing to the digestive tract, thanks to the anti-nausea effects of ginger and cardamom’s heartburn-soothing abilities. Into 7 cups of just-boiled water, add 3 cinnamon sticks, 2 tablespoons whole cloves, 2 teaspoons ground ginger, 2 whole star anises, and 2 teaspoons ground cardamom, along with 6 oolong tea bags; steep for 10 minutes. Strain into an ice-filled pitcher. Top with 1 cup light coconut milk or skim milk, if desired; stir and serve.
- Basil-Lemon: Bursting with vitamin K, which may help maintain bone health, basil isn’t just good for pasta salad. Try it in iced tea by adding 1 cup of basil leaves to 8 cups of just-boiled water, along with 6 oolong tea bags and 1 tablespoon of honey, if desired. Let mixture sit for 5 to 10 minutes. To serve, strain mixture into an ice-filled pitcher, adding the juice of 1 large lemon. Garnish with fresh basil leaves.