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Best herbal tea to drink cold and unsweetened?

I'm on a mission to cut some sugar out of my diet. I'm not a huge water drinker. I usually steer to sweetened ice teas and juice diluted with water or perrier. I don't want to replace bad habits with other bad habits by introducing lots of diet soda or other drinks sweetened with artificial lo cal sweeteners. Instead, I'd thought I'd give a try to iced herbal tea, unsweetened.

Please share your favorite brands and flavors that you think would help me kick the sugar addiction. Thanks!

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  1. If you want something that can be found in your grocery store, I've really liked Bigelow herbal teas. They have a bunch of different fruit-flavored ones. My favorite has been Taste of the Tropics.
    Zero calories, and easily drinkable without sugar.

    1. I like herbal teas with a lot of hibiscus, which tastes sweet and tangy to me. That includes most/all of the "zinger" teas from Celestial Seasonings - the Cranberry-Apple Zinger is great as iced tea.


      1 Reply
      1. re: AnneInMpls

        I agree! Think herb teas with hibiscus are the best, especially cold.

        I recently decided to cut way back on black tea (for various reasons); digging through my cupboards I found a package of loose "tea" I bought quite a while ago that's delicious: Orchard Medly from Lost Mountain Lavender. It contains lavender, chamomile, hibiscus, cardamom and stevia (which makes it sweet enough even for people who usually sweeten their tea). Unfortunately, I bought it at Lost Mountain (in WA), so I don't know where to get more locally. I'd order it off their website, but the shipping is as much as the tea, so I'd have to buy a lot to make it worthwhile!


        I see the original poster lives in Seattle, so maybe she can get it more easily than I can!

      2. I find that if you buy the loose leaves & steep yourself, the tea is so much tastier, and you can create your own flavors. I love white peach as hot & cold, as well as green tea & add another flavor to it. Such a variety with loose teas because you can combine them to your liking, however if you want a bag or pouch, go for the online better companies than the store kind. Do you have Teavana store where you live- a great way to try loose flavors out. you should order a sample from the internet to try some out. here's 2 good ones..


        1 Reply
        1. re: pamd

          It's technically not herbal, but I absolutely LOVE to drink Adagio's Casablanca Twist cold and "black."

        2. The Tazo brand, Passion flavor is great cold. It has tons of flavor and doesn't need sweetening. If you want to try it without buying a whole box, they serve it as iced tea at Starbucks (I know, I know, but the iced tea is good.)

          7 Replies
          1. re: SuzMiCo

            Second. Tazo Passion tea is the only thing I get from Starbucks. Also enjoy hibiscus teas and am partial to Ahmad teas with fruit.

            1. re: JungMann

              Tazo Passion *is* a hibiscus tea. Well, the Tazo Passion teabags available in the grocery store are, anyway. Ingredients in Tazo Passion: "Hibiscus flowers, natural flavors, citric acid, orange peel, licorice, cinnamon, rose hips, lemongrass, and red poppy." So it's very similar to Celestial Seasonings Red Zinger, although that one has a little peppermint, lemon myrtle, and wild cherry bark too, and no poppy. I think I prefer Red Zinger.

              Personally, I find Tazo Passion to be a little overpowering. I brewed a big pot of iced tea using hot water with one Passion teabag, a few black, and a few green blueberry teabags, and the Passion seemed to overwhelm all the other flavors. But then, I'm not a huge fan of hibiscus/rosehips teabags. But they'll certainly provide a particular kind of sweetness.

            2. re: SuzMiCo

              Unfortunatly, when served cold the passion tea has sugar syrup added and weighs in about 80calories or so. Im sure you could get them to throw a tea bag in cold water though.

              But you can buy the box of tea and make it at home.

              1. re: cupcakez

                Really? They always ask me if I want syrup added and I say no. The syrup they ask about is in addition to syrup they put in all the tea? How disappointing.

                You can definitely make it at home unsweetened.

                1. re: SuzMiCo

                  They serve it unsweetened here, too, and ask if you want sugar syrup. Maybe some markets are higher volume and they presweeten it?

                  1. re: amyzan

                    Mine serves it unsweet too if you ask. I'm in NYC

                    1. re: sivyaleah

                      I used to work at Starbucks, for three years, in two separate markets and just so you know, they don't presweeten any of the teas, except for the "sweet Tea" only available here in the southeast. The Iced Passion Tea (Along with the Iced Black or Iced Green Tea) are actually supposed to be sweetened to order by default, but almost every store I have been in, partners have found it easier to just ask before hand just in case. So most Starbucks you go into actually will ask, to ensure that it will be unsweetened though, you can always order it that way... Iced (size) UNSWEETENED Passion (blak/Green) Tea. I have also been trying to cut down on my sugar intake (as well as caffeine) now that I no longer work for the big evil corporation. Also trying to increase my water (fluid) intake so I have been doing iced passion/ some other flavor teas at home.

            3. Definitely Good Earth Brand tea! You won't miss the sugar at all, and it is great cold.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Chowsmurf

                Do they still have the one that was super intensely spicy? I drank it at the restaurants in the 80's and then was able to get the bags,- maybe I am not looking hard enuf- that stuff was killer.

                1. re: torty

                  Yes! I had forgotten all about it until I found a box in my boyfriends cupboard and nearly swooned with delight. I buy it now at Whole Foods. I understand that the restaurant is now defunct, but they also had the BEST poppyseed salad dressing and a black bean taco salad on a sprouted wheat tortilla that I still often dream about.

                  1. re: Chowsmurf

                    Found it at my local Vons (Pavillions/Safeway) It was buy one box get one free so I picked up their Chai tea- I actually like it better than the original GE one which I now find has too much of a cinnamon/red-hot candy oil flavor.

              2. Have you ever had Tazo honeybush? It is naturally very sweet. I have never had it over ice but think that it might taste more like sweetened tea.

                1. www.uptontea.com has a great blend called red groats, or rute grutze, that's great brewed strong and iced. I keep a gallon jar of it in the fridge in the summer, and drink it straight.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: amyzan

                    does it have currants in it? There's a German dessert called Rote Grutz, and I can imagine that a tea along those lines would be terrific

                    1. re: thinks too much

                      Hmmm, I don't have any right now, as it's still chilly out. It's definitely got dried berries, maybe currants? The flavor is fruity and tart from rosehips. I don't think it has hibiscus, which is another favorite to brew. What's the dessert like?

                      1. re: amyzan

                        It's like eating a thick fruit sauce topped with a custard sauce or unsweetened whipped cream. Definitely German, I think from the northern part. You simmer a combination of red currants and raspberries, sweetened slightly and add tapioca (which provides the body). I'd presume they left the tapioca and creamy topping taste out of the tea, yes/no?

                        1. re: thinks too much

                          Yeah, haha, and I think they add flavoring, but it doesn't taste of it. It's one of the only flavored tisanes I enjoy, as they usually taste fake and artificial, bleh!

                  2. I enjoy rosebud or lavender tea-there is no tea in them just the main ingredients-
                    There is also jasmine tea which is great iced or hot

                      1. Original Spice Yogi tea is satisfyingly sweet. The cinnamon makes it that way. I used to make a pot and turn it into ice cubes, too, sometimes popsicles. Check their website for where to buy in your area. They have many blends in tea bags and often they contain the natural sweet alternative stevia. Equally good: Africana Rooibos tea. It has vanilla in it and smells like Creamsicles. I only know where to find it in LA though..

                        1. I like Egyptian licorice "Yogi Tea" (that's the brand name).

                          I like the light flavour, and alleged oganic, yogi-ness makes me feel virtuous.

                          (even as penance after a bottle of red... I am a total hypocrite)

                          1. I bought a generic (Safeway) box of lemon tea, with hibiscus. Refreshing, still tasty cold, and even tastier with a squeeze of fresh lemon, if you like it tangy like I do. :)

                            1. Tazo Green "Zen" is good and has a light minty taste. My favorite iced tea is take Trader Joe's peppermint tea bags and cold brew in the fridge. Quite refreshing. Also, I'm not sure if they still do but Aveda (yes the hair people) makes a loose mint tea that is great with no sugar. My salon serves it.

                              1. If you're used to sweet drinks, hibiscus is on the sour side. The mint and the Yogis are better

                                1. Thanks for all the great suggestions! Rich, I love tangy and sour, and have often had the zingers hot and cold. My pet peeve in fact is all the various lovely sweet and sour fruits (apples, peaches, oranges, grapes) that have been bred to nearly eradicate the acid component for the masses who apparently can't appreciate the depth that sour brings to sweet. Think red delicious apple. Could anything be a less descriptive name for this travesty?

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: sasha1

                                    Ah, you mean Red bland and boring apple. :-)

                                  2. Honeybush, Roiboos, Ginger teas are all naturally sweet. I love hibiscus (Jamaica or soursop) but I think it needs a little sweetener to cut through the tartness.

                                    1. Any green tea. But dont let it stew as it will become bitter. I usually drink Chinese jasmine from the local Chinese store, or Twinings green tea - pear & apple/ lotus flower & orange/Ginger/Peppermint. The ginger one is excellent for digestion & hang overs & the Peppermint one is great for when you have an upst tummy. The rasberry fruity drinks I dont like as they just taste like hot Ribena. Just try them all .......Have fun

                                      1. I've always preferred the Republic of Tea over Tazo. They have several fruit and herb blends, some with green tea.

                                        1. How about plain old peppermint? too minty to drink cold?

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: sweetie

                                            Iced peppermint tea has been the only beverage in my fridge besides milk and seltzer for over thirty years! I brew it 2 gallons at a time, and we drink it instead of plain water. It has no sugar and no caffeine (and my cats leave it alone). We find that it is extremely thirst quenching, especially on hot days, and we've never grown tired of it. As a result, I have never been a soda drinker, and have virtually no "sweet tooth."

                                            1. re: pitterpatter

                                              That's a really cool (no pun) idea. I want to try it. I don't care for the taste of water and am uneasy about the amount of diet soda I drink (1 or 2 cans per day). Thanks!

                                          2. Republic of tea ginseng peppermint is my favorite, lots of flavor. Here's the official description:

                                            A healthy blend of eleuthero, peppermint, cinnamon, licorice, and echinacea root. This masterful blend offers herbal benefits and a naturally sweet, smooth, pleasing flavor.

                                            I like the Tazo passion tea but always find myself adding honey to sweeten it.

                                            1. Definitely Mint.
                                              Rose Hips. I fear that if everyone knew the miraculous properties of rose hips, a grievous shortage would develop. I drink rose hips tea every day. The ONLY times I catch a cold are when I run out and go without for a spell.

                                              1. Peppermint iced tea is great.
                                                I also like Republic of Tea's orange white tea. it's very light, refreshing, and lightly sweet from the orange.

                                                1. A really healthy, refreshing drink is seltzer with fresh lemon, lime, or orange slices. And if you like ginger ale, fresh ginger root in seltzer is sublime. You can even make a large batch at a time and fill sports bottles from it when you're out.

                                                  1. Wanted to update this post with news that Costco is now selling the Good Earth Tea! 3 packs for about $10, much better than nearly $5-a-box at Whole Foods and elsewhere.

                                                    1. I only saw one person make a comment on the Rooibos tea, to me, it tastes a little like root beer, without the sugar. I also like Chrysanthemum tea. It is really nice hot or cold. Finally, if you add a cucumber to your water, it really makes it much more refreshing, not the big ol ones that you see mainstream, but the english, persian or japanese variations are better.

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: justagthing

                                                        i started drinking rooibos tea, red bush root, in south africa and love it. the best way i can describe the flavour is earthy grassy, actually the best way is to compare it to the dark green grass jelly stuff you can find in chinese grocery stores often eaten with milk poured over top. it's refreshing, caffeine free and naturally slightly sweet. i'll often have it in a soy milk latte and it's sweetness is kicked up a little bit more.

                                                        i've seen many outlets make a mix with lemon, fruit, whatever... but i find that really masks the great flavour of the rooibos, which is admittedly slightly unconventional. straight up is the best way ;)

                                                        1. re: pinstripeprincess

                                                          i like the rooibos straight also, both hot and cold. I also bought some loose tea from tevanna one was a carmel rooibos and the other was a rooibos mate...both are so yummy. I love grass jelly, but I still kinda liken it to root beer, just not as sweet. I will have to try it with the milk though, never thought of that as I grew up drinking my tea straight, very chinese, no milk or sugar.

                                                      2. I'm surprised fellow Chowhounds haven't mentioned this one, but chrysanthemum tea is a traditional Chinese tea that's made from dried chrysanthemum flower heads. It's so fragrant and naturally mild and sweet. It's great hot or iced and is supposed to be cleansing to the system and is also naturally decaffenated. It's not commonly found in American traditional markets but I just found it in tea bag form last week at Trader Joe's! (God love 'em.) I gave it a try and it's very good. If you want, it's also great with just a touch of honey. The great thing about this tea is that it's actually better unsweetened, which is how you're supposed to drink it.

                                                        Peet's also makes a great Jasmine tea bag blend that's very fragrant. Great hot but should be good cold too. Also good unsweetened.

                                                        4 Replies
                                                        1. re: VirgoBlue

                                                          virgoblue...where you just ignoring my post? :( I mentioned the rooibos first and then the chrysanthemum which is my fav...whenever I go to dim sum or a chinese resto...I always ask for chrysanth tea, very few have it, but I still ask just in case.

                                                          1. re: justagthing

                                                            sorry about that. too many posts for this topic so it was easy to miss. i agree with you about the caramel rooibos from tevanna. just had it iced last week and it was naturally sweet and yummy.

                                                            1. re: VirgoBlue

                                                              If you're looking to forego sugar, look into Stevia. It comes in individual packets now, so it's easy to take along and you can use it with any unsweetened tea to add some sweetness. I love it.

                                                              1. re: soapbxr

                                                                wuld you post ur brand of stevia, i bought one, for 12$, a box of individual packs, but it has too strong an aftertaste, even after using in very sml. quantities.

                                                        2. I learned to enjoy "agua de jamaica" when I lived in Mexico. "jamaica" is the spanish for hibiscus. Loose stock of jamaica in latin markets is really cheap, and a half kilo will last a half year. I throw a handful into a half gallon of boiling water, turn off the heat, and strain it an hour later, then chill and dilute to taste. Slightly astringent flavor, beautiful scarlet color.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: Veggo

                                                            I love that too - though I like to add just a tad of sugar or simple syrup.

                                                          2. I keep a pitcher of Celestial Seasonings raspberry cold-brew tea in the frig all summer, and add a splash of Pom per serving. Very refreshing in hot weather.

                                                            1. Celestial Seasonings' Bengal Spice is tasty if you like sweet and spicy; I actually prefer it iced because I find it rather strong brewed hot with milk.

                                                              I made iced green tea the other day (4 Celestial Seasonings pillow bags and 2 Bigelow Pomegranate Pizzazz in a quart of water, chilled, no ice) and loved it. I agree, the fruity teas make good iced tea.

                                                              1. This is a great thread! Admittedly, I haven't made iced tea since I moved a couple years ago and realized I had all these extra teabags hiding in the back of my cupboards.

                                                                I was wondering... could anyone share some brewing tips for ice tea? I had steeped a few tea-bags in a small cup of boiling water for a few minutes, then diluted with cold and put the pitcher in the fridge. What are some better techniques?

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: twinkienic

                                                                  Put some tea leaves in chilled water, leave for several hours in the fridge. Probably works best with more light, floral teas like a green jasmine tea.

                                                                  1. re: twinkienic

                                                                    I use your method. I always have iced tea in the fridge. I have learned with the more delicate teas to let use water that is just coming to boil to avoid bitterness and preserve the floral notes.

                                                                  2. I used to do just peppermint. I'd put a bottle of water and a teabag in the refrigerator at night, and the next morning it'd be just right to pack in my lunch.

                                                                    1. a few more:
                                                                      Barley tea (i find it in china town, 50 bags for a few bucks)

                                                                      at trader joes, they make tea called "fruit infusion" - it comes in blackberry and raspberry. both are tasty and light;y sweet with nothing added.

                                                                      i make mint tea out of fresh mint leaves and add a little lime as well.

                                                                      1. Tazzo Tea - Passion. The tea comes out pink. ROCKS as iced tea. Ive had compliments each time I make it. Try starbucks if you cant find it at your grocery store.

                                                                        1. Ha ha... I just posted that last comment before reading all the others, and see now that other people have already recommended it. It is soooo good!

                                                                          1. Not technically herbal, but I like the Celestial Seasonings Honey Lemon Ginseng green tea cold. It has no calories.

                                                                            1. Incredibly refreshing yet earthy and toasty is kukicha, made from the same plant as green teas such as sencha. It's made from the twigs and stems, and sometimes the older leaves of the plant. These are dried and roasted.

                                                                              Very low and caffeine and acidity, and as long as it is not mixed with greener teas I find it can be brewed for a long time. But even better and simplicity itself is to throw some bags -- or even still better, loose - into a pitcher of water and leave out or refrigerate. A little goes a long way, but it's as easy as can be to add water if it's too strong. I often make it strong on purpose so it takes less room to store.

                                                                              Another route to go is fruited tea; about half and half juice and tea. I first had this when I lived in Nashville, and it's very refreshing as well.

                                                                              1. You might find it unconventional. But roasted dandelion root...like the one's wreaking havoc with the suburban, middle class, horticultural money-pit known as a lawn, make a great black tea-like(some say coffee...I can see that) tasting beverage. Sweeten it with a pinch (just a pinch!) of dried stevia leaves, and it'll be sweet without the calories. It's also very good for you. I make a big pitcher of this regularly, and I enjoy it's nutty, subtly sweet taste. Sometimes I toss some fresh or dried mint leaves, or some parsley and sage for good measure. Just experiment and have fun. Herbal tea's are naturally decaffeinated if that's important to you.

                                                                                I roast a bunch after I go out "weeding". Also, in the spring, you can save the greens and use them as you would other bitter greens, but I wouldn't use summer greens as they're unbearably bitter.

                                                                                1. Cold brewed (steeped in cold water in the fridge overnight) lemon verbena.

                                                                                  1. "The Republic of Tea"'s "Peach Ginger" tea is really great cold and unsweetened.

                                                                                    Check out www.mightyleaf.com as well. I like "Celebration".

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: Magnificat2005

                                                                                      I like mint tea with some lime juice squeezed in...like a mojito.. :)

                                                                                      (Actually there's a tea place in Chicago, Argo Tea, that makes a "mojitea")

                                                                                    2. Not technically "herbal" I guess, but Korean barley or roasted corn teas are really good cold or hot. When I was little and lived in Korea, and then afterwards on visits back, that's all my family ever drank - we never drank plain water.

                                                                                        1. MarketSpice Cinnamon Orange tea isn't herbal, but they do make it in a decaf version, and it tastes naturally sweet and is really yummy. Can't remember where I bought it last, but since you're near Seattle, you can most definitely get it at their store in Pike Place Market and they could also probably give you some suggestions on other teas to try.