June serves up National Ice Tea Month

A British exhibitor from the India Tea Commission laid a solid claim to the creation of iced tea. In 1904 at the St. Louis World’s Fair, he wasn’t getting too many takers for hot brew on a sweltering summer day, so he poured it over ice and offered refreshing samples to attendees.

Boons of Brewing

The health benefits of tea, especially grassy green, are staggering. Theanine, an amino acid in tea leaves is actually the stimulant that gives the same energetic lift and alert focus as caffeine in a cup of jo.

Tea is also a rich vitamin and mineral store packed with immune-boosting antioxidants, particularly catechins that put the skids on stress and inflammation, and reduce the risks of assorted cancers and cardiovascular disease, along with nerve calming Bs, body balancing potassium, manganese and calcium.

There’s more. Certain teas have been credited with dialing up libido, including American and Chinese Ginseng for the male machismo, and the Horny Goat Weed (no kidding) to amp up desires for both sexes.

While iced tea tends to be diluted as the ice melts, this accounts for a slightly weaker antioxidant warrior compared to its steamy counterpart. In addition, the sweetened versions have a load of energy-depleting sugar and extra calories. To keep everything on an even playing field, use a low- or zero-calorie sweetener like stevia.

Tea Tips

Loose tea leaves trump tea bags for freshness, but require specialty paraphernalia. When buying bags look for larger ones, or pyramid shapes, which give the leaves room to breathe.

Tea aficionados recommend using filtered or spring water since a load of minerals in tap water might interact with the compounds in the leaves to create a funny taste.

When making iced tea in a hurry, and you don’t have time to chill it, amp up the strength (up to double) to account for the dilution factor when the ice melts.

Steeping must be done like Baby Bear’s porridge — just the right amount to prevent bitterness. Dark, robust teas like black should steep 3-5 minutes; the lighter green and whites 2-3 minutes.

To maintain the health benefits of chilled iced tea in the refrigerator, add a generous squirt of lemon, lime or orange juice to preserve the flavonoids.

Just your Cup of Iced Tea

Jazz up your summer sips with assorted syrups, leaves, flowers, seeds, roots and fruits. Here’s an iced tea line up:

  1. Various fruits not only add zip and flavor, along with Vitamin C and antioxidants, but dazzling eye candy to your beverage. Add Meyer lemon slices or orange peels, pomegranate seeds or peach slivers to your pitcher.
  2. For those who don’t like a strong tea flavor, mix with fresh squeezed lemonade (an Arnold Palmer is a 50/50 blend), pomegranate or cranberry juice or whatever your druthers.
  3. Brew dried fruits like apricots, figs, dates and cherries for a caffeine-free tisane.
  4. Fresh herbs enhance iced tea with lively notes of spring and summer. Toss some leaves, sprigs petals or whole flowers of mint, thyme, lemon verbena, coriander, fennel or organically grown roses (petals or hips from the fruit) into the pitcher.
  5. For a fun change-up, freeze your tea into popsicles on sticks for a refreshing treat or into funky ice cubes to dial up cocktails or mocktails.
  6. Whip up old-fashioned, energy-efficient sun tea by steeping tea leaves in a pitcher of water in the sun for a couple of hours.
  7. For those with savory tastes, brew a batch of veggie teas over ice. Try interesting blends by Numi including Carrot Curry, Broccoli Cilantro, Tomato Mint and Beet Cabbage, like a chilled liquid salad.

For additional iced tea recipes, e-mail

Cucumber and Green Tea Martini


• 2 ounces of citrus-flavored vodka

• 1/2 Persian cucumber, shredded

• A few drops honey

• A squirt lemon juice

• 1 ounce strongly brewed green tea

• 1 basil or mint leaf

• 1/4-inch fresh ginger, shredded

Method: Combine ingredients in a martini shaker with ice cubes. Shake well and strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a thin cucumber slice.