A glass of herbal iced tea embodies the quintessence of summer—sweet, refreshing, and over much too quickly. Keep cool with these light, imaginative tea recipes. Both fresh and dried ingredients make for wonderful flavour additions, and you can even use sunlight to boost the infusion process.
No modern writer better captured the stultifying rhythm of a hot summer’s day than Harper Lee. “Men’s stiff collars wilted by nine in the morning. Ladies bathed before noon, after their three o’clock naps, and by nightfall were like soft teacakes with frostings of sweat and sweet talcum,” she wrote in To Kill a Mockingbird.
Few of us have the luxury of taking baths twice daily. Thankfully, there’s another liquid cure for the heat: iced tea. However, traditional black iced tea is usually as sugary as Lee’s frosted ladies, and its caffeine could keep them up well past nightfall.
Delicate herbal, floral, and fruit iced teas (or tisanes, to be precise) have the subtlest sweetness, can be enjoyed any time of day, and may even benefit your health.
These herbal iced tea recipes can be made with fresh or dried ingredients, or a combination of the two. Good quality teabags can also be used in some instances. Just remember to use roughly twice as much of a fresh ingredient as its dried counterpart, and one teabag for each teaspoon of dried herbs. If you want stronger tea, increase the ingredient volumes rather than brewing for longer, which can bring out bitterness.
Each recipe can be made and stored in a 1 L jar for convenience and makes four small (teacup-sized) servings. For faster cooling, chill teas without the lids screwed on.
Whether you’re perched on a dock, lounging on a deck, or bemoaning a wilted collar, you’ll be cooled and sated by one of these iced teas.
Speak with your health care practitioner before using new herbs, particularly if you have pre-existing medical conditions, take medication, or are pregnant.
- Iced Asiatic Bouquet
- Mint, Melon, and Nettle Refresher
- First Blush Iced Tea
- Raspberry Leaf, Rosemary, and Orange Iced Tea
- Thai-Inspired Iced Tea
Consider using your windowsill or deck instead of your stove to make tea. Simply place tea ingredients in a jug or jar that has a lid, add cold water, screw the lid on, and allow the mixture to sit in the sun for a few hours. You can mix and match handfuls of fresh herbs, edible flowers, chopped fruit, dashes of spice, and even entire edible plants until you find a combination you like.
Because sun tea will not reach blistering temperatures, there’s a chance bacteria in the vessel, water, or tea itself could flourish. You can help mitigate this by ensuring you use a very clean jar or jug (if it has a spout, make sure it is squeaky clean, too) and by steeping in the sun for no more than 3 hours. Refrigerate and serve within 3 hours.
Alternatively, you can brew tea in cold water in the refrigerator for 6 to 8 hours to get a delicate-tasting beverage without the bacteria-friendly temperatures of sun tea.
For a simple sun tea (or fridge tea), wash and slice 1 lemon, then place it in a 1 L (4 cup) jar full of water with a handful of well-washed fresh basil and a dash of cardamom seeds (optional).