Baby, it's hot outside. And a perfect drink to cool down is a frosty glass of iced tea. Plus, as Joyce Hendley reported in a
recent issue of EatingWell Magazine, studies show if you drink tea regularly, you may reduce your risk of Alzheimer's and
diabetes, plus have healthier teeth and gums and stronger bones. How? Tea is rich in antioxidants called flavonoids, which
are most potent when tea is freshly brewed.
Another benefit of brewing your own iced tea? When you make your own iced tea at home instead of using a powdered mix or
buying it bottled or from a fast-food restaurant or coffee shop, you'll save money. Plus you can control the calories by
limiting how much sweetener you add (or by not adding any at all).
HOW TO MAKE THE BEST ICED TEA
1. Use fresh tea. Look for fresh tea at a tearoom or a market with high turnover, because the
oils that give teas their flavor break down over time. Opt for loose tea rather than tea bags, as tea leaves need room to
expand to release their flavors. If you use tea bags, look for larger ones shaped like pyramids, which give the leaves more
room to bloom. Look for brands that list the region where the tea comes from so you know exactly what you're getting.
2. Start with spring or filtered tap water. Mineral water contains too many minerals that can
create off-flavors when they come in contact with compounds in the tea leaves, and mineral-free distilled water produces a
3. Turn up (or down) the heat. Use boiling water (212°F) to brew black, herbal and
darker-colored oolong teas. But use cooler water (170° to 180°F) to brew green, white and lighter oolongs teas. Brewing teas
that need cooler temps with boiling water can result in bitter or astringent flavors.
4. Use just enough tea. Use 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons per cup of water when brewing teas with
bigger leaves or flowers, like green tea or chamomile, and 1 teaspoon per cup for teas with denser, compact leaves, such as
most black teas. If you want to make iced tea and don't have time for the tea to cool down, brew it double-strength to
compensate for the resulting water from melting ice cubes. Or cool it to room temperature and refrigerate until cold.
5. Steep long enough to release flavors, but not so long that tannins and other bitter-tasting
compounds dominate. Heartier teas, like black teas and darker oolongs, should steep for 3 to 5 minutes, while green,
white and lighter oolong teas need just 2 to 3 minutes. Herbal tisanes and infusions have fewer tannins, so there's less risk
Tea Health Tip: Regardless of the variety of tea you brew, maximize the power of its
flavonoids by drinking it freshly brewed. If you want to keep a batch of cold tea in your refrigerator, "add a little lemon
juice," recommends Jeffrey Blumberg, Ph.D., director of the Antioxidants Research Laboratory at the USDA Human Nutrition
Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston. The citric acid and vitamin C in that squeeze of lemon--or lime or
orange--help preserve the flavonoids.