Impeach the punches and juices. Tisane (tea) for ’08!

18 Apr

Iced Ruby Sipper tisane, lovely.

The first time I tried herbal tea, I was not a believer. In fact, it took me quite a while to become one, and I have only recently become a recommender. For a while, I thought I could do better fetching old lawn clippings and heating those up with water. Which, well, maybe it would taste good. Who knows. But I continued my campaign for herbal tea even while I didn’t believe in it, because I believed in the idea of it; fruity, caffeine-less, a possible alternative to the hot chocolate addictions that run in my family.

By the way, since herbal teas are not derived from the plants that make up non-herbal tea, it is not really a tea at all but an infusion of herbs, fruits, and flowers. It’s proper name is a tisane. But I might use both words, just because.

Keys to a good iced tisane

Or maybe just my own keys:

  • Strength of the “brew”–or it will taste like grass clippings. Start with a 2-to-1 ratio (two tea bags, or the equivalent in loose tisane to-water ratio). You can always add more ice or water, but you cannot take away.
  • Sweeten! I have usually used honey for its taste and dissolvibility, but I have found that ordinary granulated sugar also does the job. You will probably need more than you think (again, test first), but it will be a whole lot less than any artificially-flavored punch junk you’d find on any shelf
  • Plenty of ice! Hot tisane is good. Cold, refreshing tisane is fantastic. Medium, warm-day-in-a-car hot is gross.
  • Don’t forget to steep! I let mine steep much longer than needed.

Also, not a key as in you’ll die without it, but I like a teaspoon of lemon juice or so per cup. Warm, spice-laden tisanes are best for hot tisane; I just can’t drink much Ginger Snappish or Sugarplum Spice iced; think of gingerbread in cold water. It really helps, no matter the flavor.

My current favorite teas

Most tisanes you’d like hot will make a good iced tisane, but I especially like anything citrusy or with heavy berry notes, or anything made from a fruit that would be dark-colored. A few of my current favorites:

  • SerendipTea’s Ruby Sipper. Tart with blood oranges, but also sweet. A very deep, pretty, well, ruby color.
  • Rishi’s Honey Plum Iced Tea–organic and fair trade.
  • Stash’s Wild Raspberry Tea–classicly berry. I like to mix this with a lemon or lemon-ginger.

Hey, moms!

If you have kids at home who regularly drink juice–and they all do–try a little iced tisane tea instead. Think of it as punch with less sugar. They may not like it much at first, but it’ll probably save you money on dental visits for filling cavities, and you’ll get a grown-up drink, too, instead of red punch with high-fructose corn syrup and preservatives you can’t even pronounce and don’t need. (Vitamin C -fortified? What the! Do you know how easy it is to get vitamin C in your diet? All you practically have to do is breathe! You can get vitamin toxicity, you know.)

I know kids will drink you out of juice if given it, but it’s not necessarily so great for them, especially if given at a young age and especially if in a bottle. The sugary drink drips into their mouths, and the sugar pools there, sticking to their teeth and forming plaque. What’s more, here’s the truth you may not want to know–fruit drinks have as much sugar and as many calories as does soda pop. So cut it out! Give them a piece of fruit with all the benefits intact and no additives, and try a little of this as a substitute.

Need more reasons?

  • Lots of sugar = chronic diseaseAmericans have a love affair with sugar. I know. We all do. But it is a large contributor to the growing health concerns we face as a nation, and the ages for these effects are getting younger and younger. Diabetes, heart disease, obesity with its multitude of pitfalls (did you know many cancers are associated with being overweight?), and so many others…your risk can be reduced as you reduce sugar intake.
  • As you’ve no doubt heard, many teas come with fantastic benefits. Although the caffeinated teas are the real superstars here (green tea has been touted in everything from ice cream to eye shadow), fruit- or herb-based teas are helpers, too. The antioxidants available in the whole fruit/herb/flower are also in the dried version.

It is so good. I have gone through several pitchers’ worth in the last few days, and when you’re thirsty and it’s hot (or even warm) outside, it is very, very good. And for you.

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