By Cal Orey
Hello June! Did you know this month is declared National Iced Tea Month? Well, now you do. So, is there an art to making iced tea? Sort of. On the South Shore I’ve become a master of tea—hot and iced. After all, two summers ago, I did write a book on tea—all kinds. I’m talking black, white, herbal and more.
During the writing of the book it was the summertime. I have a confession to make. One day I was too lazy and hot to brew tea bags so I hit the grocery store. I found a popular bottled iced tea. One six pack later—I was hooked. I wrote love notes about it! “It is sweet and tangy. I can’t stay away. I need another fix.” I brought home another carton (okay, two) of the forbidden brew. And then my affair grew serious with bottled iced tea. I had a two pack a week habit.” And then began the analytical process to discover why my addiction was spinning out of control. It was a super pricey habit.
Yes, the 16-ounce bottled iced tea did give me refreshment and energy, too. Why? Uh, the caffeine and loads of sugar. I’m talking more than two dozen grams of sugar. After a while, I realized it provided calories—lots of calories that can add unwanted girth during our warm weather days and nights. After a month or two (remember, I was in love) I tapered and ditched the sugary tea habit. I found my replacement…
Homemade tea entered my life. The cool thing is, I could choose my favorite tea or tisane, and control the amount of sugar or honey. Can we spell “healthier”? Oh yeah. So here you go. It gets easier as you get used to the switch.
DIY Lemon Iced Tea
2 cups water
5 tea bags, orange pekoe, white, green or chamomile
2 tablespoons lemon juice, fresh
Honey to taste, preferably local (or try Carson City’s beekeepers); you can also use white granulated sugar, but use less than more
Mint sprigs (optional)
Ice (bag of ice cubes)
Bring fresh cold water to a boil and pour 2 cups over tea bags. Cover and brew 3 to 5 minutes. Remove tea bags and add 2 cups cold water. Stir. Pour into chilled, ice-filled tea mugs or glasses. Add honey to taste. Garnish with cinnamon sticks, citrus, and mint. Serves 4.
Do I ever miss the bottled iced tea? Uh, yeah. Will I cave this month and during this summer? I might once or twice grab a ready to drink bottle because once you try it, it’s heavenly. It’s mixed, chilled, and tastes so sweet. But my homemade recipe (which you can tweak with an endless variety of flavored teas and tisanes, fruits and herbs) is better for your mind and belly.
Speaking of weight, next time you’re at your local Safeway grab a container of Killer Salsa (it’s full of fat-burning herbs!) and a bag of whole grain tortilla chips. Salsa is low-cal and chips are well, fun food. Moderation is key! Pair it up and sip your custom-tailored tea. You’ll get that super kick of just-do-it caffeine and nature’s sweet honey buzz for summer days and nights. Bottoms up!