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Tasty variations on Iced Tea?

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It's hot in Texas. Real hot. I want to make some refreshing, sparkly, and delicious iced teas this week. Anyone have any fresh ideas in the way of marrying fruits/herbs/ and maybe sweeteners and varieties of tea? I am pretty much open to anything: black, green, herbal, white, unusual origins and fruits, types of sweeteners, etc. And out of curiosity, what is the hip new sweetener these days? Not that I care too much, but I heard my agave nectar is passé and I'm just curious as to what the kids are using these days. Thanks for any suggestions!

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  1. I've been putting mint in mine and it is absolutely delicious. Nothing groundbreaking, but very refreshing. I use all kinds of tea - whatever is on hand. Tried a pomegranate tea that was good.

    1 Reply
    1. re: laurendlewis

      Mint is the only deviation in my iced tea. I really hate it when you order iced tea in a restaurant and they bring out some horrible house creation. It is a nasty trick to play on the unsuspecting. When they do that I make them take it away out of my sight and bring me iced water. I think the worst surprise was mango iced tea at the Florida culinary school in the Palm Beach area. They claimed it was the only tea that they had. I like mangoes but not in my tea and it certainly was not the right flavor to go with my food.

    2. Steep some ginseng in the tea.

      1. I like to use flavored green tea (brew it for less time than normal tea for icin). The BF loves rose/green tea, raspberry green tea. I have an automatic tea maker and when it is still hot in the pot I add splenda or some honey so it will dissolve then put in the fridge to cool. I doubt this is anything abnormal though.

        1. My mom makes fabulous iced tea out of the odds and ends tea bags that always seem to collect in the tea cabinet, what people give you or fruity teas that aren't great hot, or the green tea you bought to replace your coffee habit and never quite made the full transition to! You get lots of layers of flavor and complexity and use up old stuff! She also sometimes adds one serving of crystal light powder, mostly to use it up, but it's a nice sweetener and adds another flavor layer to it. I have recently done white tea and mint, which was very nice.

          1. While your tea is steeping, add some sliced ginger. If possible, let sit in hot tea for 10 minutes (after removing teabags), then pour over ice.
            Also cardamom is really good steeped in tea then iced. (Is steeped a word?)

            1 Reply
            1. re: QueenB

              I've kept ginger simple syrup in the fridge just to add to tea. It gives it a nice subtle kick and sweetens it at the same time.

            2. I remember my Grandmother would throw in some tamarind pods when making her lipton sun tea & flavoring it with a little lemon & honey.

              1. I like honey in my hot and iced teas (since sugar takes a while to dissolve) and simple syrups - lemon, ginger, mint, etc.

                Herbal teas with hibiscus flowers are nice because it gets a little tangy-sweet from the hibiscus.

                My alternative to iced tea is to smush lemon/lime/orange or mint in the bottom of a glass, add ice and water and you have a nice, cold, flavored water.

                1. I love a mix of Earl Grey and Black Currant tea.

                  An alternative to Iced Tea: Pitcher of water, slices of cucumber, lemon and Mint.
                  It's just a really subtle flavour but super refreshing!

                  1. Use one Constant Comment Tea Bag in place of one of your regular black tea bags. Reminds me of the tea at Truffles restaurant in Hilton Head, SC. Spicy but oh so good!

                    1. I bought a box of pomegranate white tea at TJ's this weekend. I brewed it, cooled it and put in frozen raspberries. You could freeze the berries in ice cubes too. It was a beautiful pink!

                      I love to do tea with slices of ginger too...it's delish.

                      I don't know what's newer/different than agave nectar, that works for me.

                      Interestingly, I really like apple juice and iced tea mixed. Keep the tea unsweetened, the AJ will do that for you. It's really tasty, not sure how I came up with that one.

                      Enjoy and stay cool!

                      1. As leeanbabe suggested, simple syrups are a wonderful medium for carrying flavors. You can make rose simple syrup by adding some rose water to simple syrup, make honey simple syrup it's easier to disassociate in tea; vanilla syrup, maple, etc.. Try adding mint and basil to your tea, it would make it a bit more 2 dimensional by having more herbs. A good inspiration is to look at cocktail flavors and try placing them into your tea. Of course, a great iced "tea" is the long island iced tea.

                        1. Not new and hip by any means, but an 'Arnold Palmer' is half and half lemonade and iced tea. Very refreshing, especially when washing down decadent lobster roll at the Napa Lobster Shack.

                          1. Though not on the fruity/herbal side of things, I sometimes find it refreshing in the hot summer days to make a very concentrated barley or green tea, chill it and pour some over ice and top off with sparkling water to dilute. (I never sweeten any kind of tea, though I guess it would be possible to sweeten the green tea.)

                            I seem to recall my mother doing something similar with regular pekoe tea, but mixing in a juice like apricot nectar or cranberry juice together with sparkling water or seltzer.

                            (Side note: very concentrated barley tea can be made by steeping longer, though the flavor will always be rather subtle. Very concentrated green tea must be made by adding extra tea, since the tea will get bitter if made by steeping longer)

                            1. Stevia is becoming very popular & doesn't affect blood sugar, so great for diabetics. I don't care for the powder or liquid, but fresh stevia leaves have almost a honeysuckle flavor, quite nice smushed in ice tea! Most people seem happiest with mixing stevia in beverages. Cooking with it seems to take a while to work out the tricks.

                              1. Not trendy, but years ago my mother-in-law used to make a big pitcher of strong hot tea, let it cool a bit, then add a can of frozen lemonade to it, which covered both sweetening and lemon.

                                1. I add a little pineapple juice for kick and peach schnapps for bite. The schnapps is a great addition because it mimics the mouth feel of great sun tea and depending on how much you use can be just a mild flavoring or a friendly comforter. :)

                                  1. I'm in Austin too- so I feel your pain...Here's my standby:
                                    Nile Valley Hibiscus (you can purchase it in bulk from Wheatsville), made ultra concentrated. I really put a ton of flowers in a let it steep for a while. Then I strain out the tea, and keep it in a big bottle in the fridge. To serve, pour over half an ice tray of ice, dilute with water, and sweeten with liquid stevia to taste.
                                    Making a big strong batch helps minimize stovetop use. NuNaturals stevia, which comes in a dropper bottle, has a distinct herbal sweetness that - while terrible in coffee - combines beautifully with most teas.
                                    Variations: Add peppermint while steeping or use ice cold Topo Chico to dilute.

                                    1. We had iced chai tea, lightly sweetened, at an Indian restaurant a few weeks ago and it was very nice. There was no milk in it (like hot chai or iced chai at Starbucks would have) and it was much more subtle than the Starbucks version. I would think it would be very easy to make with readily available chai tea bags like Stash or TJ's.

                                      1. You could make a batch of Korean citron tea syrup (Yujacha) and add that to tea or just add it to hot water and drink stand alone.

                                        If you are interested I can post a recipe for making the Yujacha.

                                        1. Lychee tea makes an excellent ice tea and needs little or no sweetening at all. My current favorite, though, is rooibus (sp?) tea with honey to taste. It doesn't need much. Refreshing, different, and the red color is kinda neat.

                                          Slightly off-topic, but since lemonade and mint have been brought up separately, have you tried minted lemonade. A great summer drink and a combination you don't see too often (I think) in the States.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: rockycat

                                            I make minted lemonade all the time (though mine also contains a healthy dose of vodka). I see it on menus everywhere, although I live in a big city, so that might change things.