Cool Off with Summertime Iced Tea Blends

I know I keep mentioning the heat down here in Texas, but until you’ve experienced it yourself, you just can’t imagine how very hot it is. I was honestly shocked when Aimee mentioned that where she lives in Canada, there was a chill in the air on Wednesday. A chill? We’re only just hitting the hottest part of the summer here, and it will likely continue this way for at least another month.  These are the days I wish I lived much, much further north.

Luckily, I have a survival plan for these hot and humid times.  Back in July, Amy taught us all about the importance of water, its benefits, and tips for making sure you’re getting enough.  I love drinking water – I drink more plain water than anything else – but sometimes plain water gets a little old, and I just need to shake things up. That’s where iced teas come in!

While a regular black tea such as orange pekoe makes for some delicious iced tea, I actually prefer to mix together different blends of herbals, greens, and reds.  Read on for some of my favorite combinations.

Photo by Selena N.B.H.

Hibiscus and Passion Blend

Hibiscus tea is one of my all-time favorites.  It’s great by itself, but it’s also a wonderful base for adding other teas and other flavors.  Passion tea is a great addition to hibiscus.  I like to use a 50/50 blend of the two.  The flavor is fruity, fresh, and clean.

Hibiscus and Orange Blend

This blend also uses hibiscus tea, but the orange gives it a distinctly different and bright flavor.  The two are a wonderful pair.  Another equally yummy option is blood orange.  Equal portions of both teas produce a great balance.

Hibiscus, Mango, and Orange Blend

Throw some mango into the mix, and hibiscus orange tea becomes a tropical getaway in your own kitchen.  I love the addition of mango when I want something a little sweeter, more like a fruity poolside beverage.

Peach and Mango Blend

Everyone loves peach iced tea, but the mango just takes it to a whole new level of deliciousness.

Pomegranate and Blood Orange Blend

This is one of my new favorites.  Blood orange is a popular flavor now, and deservedly so.  Combine it with pomegranate and you have a party on your tongue.

Photo by Isaac Wedin

Pomegranate and Vanilla Blend

You may not often think of vanilla as a good flavor in your iced tea, but why not?  We love it in ice cream!  Pomegranate and vanilla are a sweet, fruity, and smooth combination, with an added richness from the vanilla.

Green Tea and Spearmint with Honey

This flavor is directly inspired by a local tea company here in central Texas,  Sweet Leaf Tea. Oh goodness, how I love this one.  I use about a 1:3 ratio of spearmint tea to green tea, and then sweeten with honey while it’s still warm, so the honey dissolves.  It’s divine on ice.

Rooibos

Plain rooibos is a red tea, similar in flavor to plain black tea but more mellow and somehow lighter and more refreshing.  It is herbal, so it contains no caffeine. You can substitute rooibos for hibiscus in any of the blends above, and you will taste more of the other tea than you would with the hibiscus. It’s a refreshing way to have a more traditional tasting tea or fruit tea without the caffeine, or the dry-mouth that the tannins in black tea sometimes leaves behind. (Bonus: Hot caramel rooibos in the wintertime with a little milk is almost like liquid candy – yum!)

Making Iced Tea: My Method

I’m no trained expert, but I make a lot of iced tea, so here’s how I do it.

Boil a little water in your kettle. You don’t need much; a couple of cups will do.  While you’re waiting for it to boil, place your tea into a large pitcher, either half-gallon or gallon sized, depending on what you think you’ll drink.  

I use both loose tea and tea bags; if using loose tea, I use a tea strainer.  You could also use cheesecloth to create tea bags for the loose tea.  Also, insert a metal instrument into the pitcher, such as a metal spoon.  This will absorb the heat from the boiling water so your pitcher doesn’t crack.

Photo by Anthrocopy

When the water has boiled, pour it into the pitcher and make sure your tea is covered.  Let it steep for awhile.  Purists will tell you not to let your tea steep for longer than a few minutes, or it will become bitter.  This can sometimes be the case, but more often than not I get distracted and don’t get around to dealing with it until a half hour has gone by, sometimes longer.  I usually sweeten my tea, so if there’s ever been a bitterness to it, I’ve never noticed.

Once it’s steeped for awhile, remove the tea bags or strainers and the metal spoon.  If you want to add honey, do it now, while it’s still warm.  Then fill up your pitcher the rest of the way with water.  That’s it!  Store it in the fridge, serve over ice, and enjoy.

You will soon discover whether you like your tea stronger or weaker and how much tea to use.  A good rule of thumb is that four regular-size teabags will make one quart.  But it’s better to make your tea too strong, because you can always add more water.

Do you have any favorite iced tea blends? Please share your recipes with us!

Reading Time:

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12 Comments

  1. Deb

    I boil water in the microwave, like 4 cups, then I add the cheapest orange pekoe (4-6 bags) and 2 bags of a flavored tea, such as Celestial Seasonings Blueberry or peach, let it sit overnight, then add enough water for a gallon. If I want it sweetened, I add 1 cup of sugar to the water as soon as it comes out of the microwave and before I add the tea. Very simple, very NOT the right way to make tea, but my family likes it and it is easy.

  2. Kara

    I wish I had thought of this before! This little Missourian is suffering in the Texas heat. I don’t have iced tea often, but when I do I like to make raspberry iced tea. So delicious!

    • Deb

      I live in Missouri and we are plenty hot!

      • Kara

        Yeah, I don’t know how to explain it. It’s hot and humid at home in MO, but here in TX the sun feels very intense. My parents laugh because the heat index has been higher than here for much of the month.

  3. Catherine

    The Texas heat this time of year does make one want icy cold drinks and lots of them!
    I made Hibiscus Lemon Verbena Tea yesterday and sweetened it with Lavender sugar … very tasty! I will be trying some of your blends soon, especially the Hibiscus Passion 🙂 .
    Blessings,
    Catherine … another Texas mama who is dreaming of fall 🙂

  4. Aimee @ Simple Bites

    Thanks for the inspiration to mix up my iced tea repertoire, Katie. I’m stuck in a bit of a rut, I’m afraid!

    This weekend was quite cool; we can feel fall in the air!

  5. Alicia

    I keep meaning to make sun tea but this sounds so much easier! I love the combinations here. Thanks!

  6. Joyful Mama

    Hi there! It is the dead of winter here in Cape Town, South Africa, so I am definitely enjoying my tea hot at the moment, but I’ve bookmarked this post for summer! I just wanted to say that I was tickled pink to see you mention rooibos tea, since it is grown here in SA, in the Cederberg mountains, and it is possibly the most drunk hot beverage in our country! I buy the loose leaves and make a Rooibos Cappucino by brewing it in my espresso maker on the stove, and then adding steamed milk and a sprinkle of cinnamon on top. Thanks so much for including rooibos in your post – so often when I read American blogs I end up feeling rather deprived because of all the ingredients we don’t find here. (I only learned what Peeps are earlier this year when everyone was blogging about things they do with peeps at easter time!)

  7. Alison

    Love your tea ideas! Thanks for sharing such great information!

  8. Diane

    Thanks for the great tea ideas! Here in New Orleans we’re facing another month of 90+ degree days as well and that Peach Mango sounds just about perfect while the kids play in the makeshift waterpark in our back yard!

  9. Casey

    Thanks for all of the wonderful ideas for combinations! You can let herbal teas steep for as long as you like, and actually they should steep longer than real teas. They won’t get bitter because they don’t have the tannins that regular tea has.

  10. Stephanie

    Ok, the chill wasn’t that bad. 🙂 It was pretty brief, actually, and we’re right back to nice hot summer weather (at least, in the Vancouver area)!

    Yummy sounding blends, Katie! You’re so much more creative with your iced tea than I am! I’m inspired. And I want to buy some Hibiscus. And blood orange. And pomegranate. 🙂

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