Herbal Iced Teas

Herbal iced teas provide a perfect forum for experimenting with the offerings of your garden.

| April/May 1997

  • The lively combination of fruit and mint makes Apple-Mint tea a refreshing drink after a hot day in the garden.
  • The ruby red of Lemon-Hibiscus Tea and the interesting textures of the Fresh and Fruity Tea blend are pleasing to both eye and palate.

Recipes

The recipes below call for both fresh and dried herbs and flowers, but you may use either, substituting two to three times as much fresh for dried. Dried herbs are convenient for making large quantities; store blends in airtight containers away from heat and light. To make these iced teas, refer to “The basics”, below.

• Apple-Mint Tea
• Lemon-Hibiscus Tea
• Fresh and Fruity Tea
• Spiced Tea
• Ginger Tea

A tall, cool glass of herbal iced tea is a fine way to celebrate spring and to quench your thirst during the warm days ahead. Pick a few leaves of mint, lemon balm, sage, or other favorite herb and let them steep in the sun while you work in the garden; when you’re ready for a break, add ice to your tea and drink it down. Whether you prefer tart and lively or subtle and mellow, whether you add herbs to your favorite black tea or brew them straight, herbal iced teas provide a perfect forum for experimenting with the offerings of your garden.

Tea in history

Tea is the second most widely consumed beverage around the world, surpassed only by water. According to Chinese legend, the emperor Shen Nong discovered tea in about 2700 b.c. when a gust of wind blew some tea leaves into a kettle of boiling water. A competing Indian legend credits Siddh¯artha Gautama, founder of Buddhism, with the divine creation of tea. Regardless of its origin, tea (Camellia sinensis) has been cultivated and harvested since at least the fourth century a.d. Tea remained almost exclusively an Asian pleasure until the end of the sixteenth century, when European traders began to travel to Asia and later to the Americas. It became a valued commodity worldwide, and its role in the American Revolution is recorded in history books.

Iced tea’s history is much shorter and far less grand, but its birth illustrates the ingenuity for which Americans are famous. During the sweltering heat of the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, one resourceful vendor whose hot tea was not selling well poured the brew over ice and concocted an instant hit that has never lost its popularity.

Today, Americans consume in excess of 33 billion glasses of iced tea per year, and the marketplace has recently seen an increased demand for lower-caffeine alternatives to black tea for summertime thirst quenchers. Almost all U.S. tea manufacturers now turn out herbal tea blends designed to be served over ice, but it’s just as simple—and perhaps more satisfying—to make your own blends using fresh or dried herbs from your garden.



The basics

Almost all U.S. tea manufacturers now turn out herbal tea blends designed to be served over ice, but it’s just as simple—and perhaps more satisfying— to make your own blends using fresh or dried herbs from your garden.

Whether you use herbs and spices alone or brew them with black, green, or oolong tea, making herbal iced tea is simple. All you need is a nonreactive pot, good water, your favorite tea herbs, and a glass of ice.



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