This is an article I wrote for YogaLiving Magazine last summer…..
When I think about summer, I think about iced tea—not your traditional Lipton’s tea made cold, but cool teas made from all the yummy ingredients from my garden. The first thing to remember when making your own summer blends is not to be afraid to experiment. There is no right or wrong way so just go out there and do it! Make small batches to begin with and be sure to write down how much of each ingredient you use in case you really like it and want to make it again. Then, if you do make a large batch, just store is an airtight container (you can find many nice ones on line).
Fruit—I think fruit always enhances the flavor of a tea—especially in the summer when we just naturally gravitate towards the sweetness of fruit. Bits of fresh or dried fruit can be added to any tea. Fruits that I like in my teas are: oranges, tangerines, coconut and all sorts of berries. I also like to put vanilla in my teas because I think it makes teas taste smooth and delicious! Just a note—if you buy a store bought tea, make sure they don’t spray the leaves with “natural” flavorings—we really don’t know if they are natural or not so it’s best to use real food in your teas.
Try to find a store that will sell you teas in bulk and if they don’t have what you’re looking for, ask if they can order it for you. You can buy online as well (e.g. Mountain Rose Herbs) but you will pay for shipping—so best to double up with friends.
Here are some wonderful herbs that you might want to combine:
Bitter melon, Chrysanthemum flowers, elder berries or flower, hawthorn berries or flowers, helichyrum, gotu kola and licorice root, Oolong tea, white tea, hibiscus, peppermint, , rose petals or rosehips spearmint, chamomile, holy basil, lavender, orange or lemon peel, anise or fennel seed, roasted chicory root.
Now for some of my favorite recipes:
- hibiscus, orange peel, holy basil, vanilla, blueberries
- Spearmint, peppermint and chamomile, coconut and licorice root
- Lavender, vanilla, chrysanthemum flowers, and rose petals
- Oolong tea, Gotu kola, licorice, fennel or anise seeds and mango
- Roasted chicory, bitter melon, licorice root and orange peel
Make sure you start with boiling water as this will bring out the taste of the fruit better than starting with cold. Add your herbs and fruits to the pot of boiling water and cover for 15 minutes. When sufficiently cooled, transfer the tea to a tea pot or other jar that can withstand hot water and let it sit on the counter until it cools down sufficiently to put in the refrigerator, You can also test it at this time to make sure you like it.
If you like your teas sweet, add stevia LEAF to the tea blend, don’t add the powdery stuff that has been processed. I would skip the honey with cold teas as it doesn’t coagulate very well.
Below, I’ve broken down the herbs by ‘action’ although some herbs have more than one:
Digestion: chamomile, fennel, anise seed, bitter melon, orange peel, peppermint, chrysanthemum flowers
Sense of well being: holy basil, licorice root, lavender, rose petals and hips, hawthorn leaf and berries
Skin and or immune system: gotu kola, elder flowers and berries, all green teas, rooibos
So welcome summer with one of your own special blends and enjoy your refreshing iced herbal teas!