(WellnessNova.com) - Summer is here and hydration is key! Everyone knows how important drinking water is, no matter the weather but there is a greater need when you are outside in the heat. Whether exercising or doing yard work, it is very easy to become dehydrated and by the time you are thirsty, it is already too late.
But sometimes water gets a little monotonous and so you may find yourself looking for other drinks to give you that refreshing boost. Unfortunately, some people turn to unhealthy options, like soda or sugary energy drinks which only work to dehydrate you further.
With a little foresight and a few minutes of planning, it is super easy to make sure your fridge is always stocked with a delicious iced tea recipe that is so much healthier than the sugar filled alternative.
The best ice tea recipes are not only invigorating and delicious, but also good for you. Here are five recipes for healthy ice tea to keep you going all summer!
1. Cooling Mint and Cucumber Green Tea
Green tea is an excellent base for ice tea from which many different fruits and herb combinations can be added to make limitless drink options. If you are sensitive to caffeine, caffeine-free green tea bags can be used.
- 6 to 8 green tea bags of your choice
- 1-½ liters of water
- Sweetener of your choice, such as honey or agave syrup, to taste
- 3 to 4 cups of ice cubes
- 2 or 3 sprigs of mint
- ¼ medium sized cucumber, sliced thinly
Start by preparing the green tea. In a medium-sized pan or heatproof pitcher, bring 4 cups of water to just below boiling point. (Green tea should not be brewed in boiling water as it damages the leaf and can make your tea bitter.)
Add tea bags and let steep for 5 minutes or less depending on how strong you prefer your tea. Remove tea bags and add sweetener of choice, if any. Add 3 to 4 cups of ice cubes and let tea cool completely. Once cool, add sprigs of mint and slices of cucumber and keep in fridge. Serve over ice.
Hydrating cucumbers are good for the skin and contain a number of B vitamins. They balance the stomach’s pH level and also contain potassium.
2. Invigorating Balinese Lemongrass and Cinnamon Ice Tea
The Indonesians and the Balinese specifically are known for their wide use of plants and herbs to create natural and healing remedies for various ailments.
Here is one of their teas, a wonderfully spiced ice tea that can be enjoyed hot or cold:
- 1-½ liters of water
- Thumb-sized knob of ginger, sliced thinly
- 2 lemongrass stalks
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 3 to 4 cloves
- Palm sugar or sweetener of choice, to taste
- 3 to 4 cups of ice cubes
Start by taking the two stalks of lemongrass and removing the harder outer dried leaves. On a cutting board or chopping block, pound the lemongrass stalks a few times with a rolling pin or meat tenderizer to break up the fibers of the stalks, which allows more of the natural oils to come out. Take the lemongrass stalks and tie them in a knot to make them shorter and keep the fibers together.
Bring the water to a boil, reduce to medium heat, and add the ginger slices, lemongrass knots, cinnamon sticks and cloves. Let simmer for 20 to 30 minutes or until the water becomes a darker color from the cinnamon.
Turn off the heat and add sweetener. Palm sugar will give you the most authentic taste but honey or agave is also fine. Strain and pour into pitcher, add ice cubes and keep refrigerated. Serve over ice.
Lemongrass has many healing properties. It has been used for stomach issues and is an excellent antioxidant. It is also great for colds and fever and contains B vitamins as well as vitamin C.
Cinnamon is an amazing blood sugar regulator and can help people with diabetes. Along with ginger, it is a warming plant, and can aid in circulation and heart disease.
Ginger helps with digestion and is of great benefit for people suffering nausea or motion sickness. The warming effects of cinnamon and ginger promote sweating, which in turn makes you cooler in the heat.
3. Roasted Barley Tea
Roasted barley tea or Mugicha has been used for centuries in Japan as a refreshing summertime drink. It contains no caffeine and is a popular favorite drink of Japanese school children.
Mugicha is very easy to make and can be brewed hot or cold. The big tea bags can be found in many Asian markets or Amazon and is enjoyed all over Asia, so you may find the tea by another name. It has a roasted, smoky-like taste and can also be enjoyed warm in the winter.
- 2 large bags of roasted barley tea or mugicha
- 2 liters of cold water
Most mugicha tea bags contain ground, roasted barley and do not need to be steeped in boiling water to brew. Just toss the tea bags into your pitcher of cold water, and remove after 3 hours or so. Pour over ice to serve. Sweetener can be added and many children in Japan enjoy their mugicha sweet, but it’s not really necessary.
Mugicha has been shown to improve blood circulation by decreasing viscosity. It is a thirst quencher and some people believe it even reduces stress. It is a nice coffee substitute for those looking to avoid caffeine.
4. Beautiful Hibiscus Lime Ice Tea
Chances are if you have had a berry-flavored tea in the past, the color was not from fruit, but from hibiscus. The flower of the hibiscus plant infuses tea with a beautifully brilliant purple red color and it also tastes great! It is enjoyed all over the world and has a variety of names.
You can buy whole dried hibiscus flowers online or at health food stores, or you can purchase hibiscus tea in bags at most larger supermarkets. This tea can be brewed cold which makes for a sweeter, subtler flavor. It is lightly sour, somewhat like cranberry juice.
- 1 cup dried hibiscus flowers or 4 to 6 hibiscus tea bags
- 2 liters cold water
- Liquid sweetener of choice, to taste
- ½ lime, sliced
Let steep in the fridge overnight. Strain out the flowers and add liquid sweetener. Add slices of lime and pour over ice to serve.
Hibiscus flowers have been found to lower blood pressure and cholesterol. It is high in vitamin C and has been used to treat a variety of stomach ailments as well as constipation. There is some evidence to suggest that hibiscus flowers have estrogen-like properties and can stimulate menstruation and for this reason is not recommended for pregnant women in their first trimester.
5. Antioxidant Blueberry Rooibos Ice Tea
Rooibos, or red bush tea, comes from Africa. It has a sweet, vanilla-like flavor and is caffeine-free. Blueberries are a nice accompaniment to this tea and compliment its antioxidant-rich qualities.
- 1-½ liters of water plus one cup of water for cooking the blueberries
- 5 to 6 bags of plain rooibos tea (not artificially flavored)
- 1 cup blueberries, mashed or blended
- Sweetener of choice, to taste
- 3 to 4 cups of ice
Bring 1-½ liters of water to boil. Turn off heat and add rooibos tea bags and let steep for 7 to 10 minutes. Remove tea bags. Add mashed or blended blueberries to one cup of water in a medium-sized pot and simmer on low heat until berries begin to thicken and some water evaporates.
Take blueberries off heat and add sweetener. Add blueberries to rooibos tea and let sit for several hours. Strain out blueberries and add ice. Keep refrigerated and pour over ice to serve.
Because of the high levels of antioxidants in both rooibos and blueberries, this tea could be helpful in reducing cancer-causing chemicals in the body while also being good for the skin.
Rooibos also contains magnesium, manganese and calcium as well as iron and zinc. Blueberries also contain many vitamins and minerals and can help lower blood pressure due to their potassium, magnesium and calcium content. They are also linked to a decrease in risk of type 2 diabetes.
Try these great teas from around the world to keep you hydrated!