By Tom Havran
A steaming cup of freshly-brewed tea is a warming delight for the cold winter season, but not nearly as crave-worthy as the weather warms. If tea is part of your daily ritual, don’t abandon it during spring and summer — turn your favorite brew into a cool and heavenly warm weather treat.
Below, a few of my favorite ways to enjoy tea during the spring and summer:
Basic iced tea
Black and green iced tea are wholesome and fortifying ways to quench thirst. For the best flavor, and to avoid cloudy iced tea, follow these tips:
- Use whole, loose leaf tea (not bags). Whole tea creates a robust flavor without the bitter tannins of the broken leaf in tea bags.
- Use filtered or distilled water to brew your tea. Avoid hard or treated tap water because any minerals or salts in the water can interfere with the natural flavor of the tea leaves.
- Use 1½ to 2 times the regular measure of tea leaves to compensate for the ice dilution.
- Sweeten the tea before you add the ice.
- Allow the tea to reach room temperature before adding the ice.
Sweetened iced tea
It’s hard to properly sweeten tea that’s already iced, because chilled beverages deaden our perception of sweetness, which can lead to over-sugaring the tea. This is especially true if you sweeten with granulated sugar, because it won’t dissolve well in cold liquid.
Simple syrup is a more effective way to sweeten tea, whether before or after it’s iced. This recipe calls for half the amount of sugar used in a typical simple syrup formulation. The stevia infusion makes up for the difference in sweetening power without adding extra calories — creating a satisfying way to naturally sweeten iced tea.
Recipe: Half the Sugar Simple Syrup with Stevia
- Dissolve sugar in water, add stevia and bring to a simmer, just long enough to fully dissolve the sugar and saturate the stevia. Do not boil.
- Remove from heat and let steep in refrigerator overnight. Strain.
- Use about 1 tablespoon to sweeten an 8-ounce glass of iced tea. Store in refrigerator for up to three days.
Flavored iced tea cubes
This is one of my favorite ways to sweeten iced tea — it adds flavor rather than diluting the tea with plain ice. Fruit juice ice cubes provide subtle sweetness and visual appeal to a tumbler or pitcher full of iced tea. Simply juice any richly colorful fruit, strain and freeze the results.
- Green: kiwi, honeydew melon
- Blue/purple: blueberries, blackberries, dark plums
- Red: cherries, pomegranates
- Yellow/orange: mango, orange
Sweet tea granita
If you’ve never tried a frozen granita, a flavored and sweetened tea version is a refreshing way to experience this ultra-chill treat. Granita is an Italian desert, created by freezing and scraping a pan of liquid with the tines of a fork. Think snow cone — but with delicately flaked crystals of delectable ice. To make, simply pour any sweetened and/or flavored tea into a chilled glass baking dish. Set the dish in the freezer and scrape the ice crystals to one side every 15 minutes or so until you have a complete mound of ice crystals. Spoon into chilled desert glasses and serve. My tea-based chai granita is substantial enough to make a refreshing summertime dessert.
Recipe: Sweet Chai Tea Granita with Vanilla Almond Cream
- 4 cups freshly-brewed chai tea
- 5 tablespoons sugar, divided
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ½ teaspoon almond extract
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Dissolve in 4 tablespoons sugar in freshly brewed tea. Pour into a chilled glass baking dish.
- Freeze, scraping ice crystals to one side every 15 minutes.
- Stir 1 tablespoon sugar, almond and vanilla extracts into heavy cream, chill.
- Spoon chai granita into chilled dessert glasses and drizzle with chilled cream.
What are your best iced tea tips and tricks?
About the author: Tom is communicator of natural living for Frontier, Simply Organic and Aura Cacia brands. In other words, he’s a very imaginative copywriter. A local boy, raised on a farm just down the road from the company’s headquarters in Norway, Tom enjoys drawing, plant hoarding, cooking and living the simple life in the beautiful state of Iowa.