June Is National Iced tea Month

That a homemade glass of iced tea has more antioxidants than a full serving of fruit or vegetables?

It's true.

It is good for your skin, lowers cholesterol, and even fights cancer! read more here. Don't forget, too, that you are getting all these benefits in a giant glass of water. So...ZERO CALORIES!

I have had an iced tea maker for about 12 years and I use it all the time! It is made by Mr. Coffee and it has lasted all this time. It is incredibly easy to use...there is literally 1 button and 10 minutes later ready-to-drink!

I love mine so much, I bought my grandmother one for Mother's Day. They are cheap too..I think it was $19 in Wal-Mart or something.

Now, if you are a tea drinker you'll know what I am talking about here. You need to find real tea. It does make a difference. The teabags you buy in the store are not tea...they are tea "dust" as Mary likes to call them. I guess the best thing to do is try different ones and find one you like...I have been buying the Celestial Seasonings Organic Black Tea.

My thing is...I like tea and not any sort of flavorings, like say passion fruit (inside joke) for example.

Anyway, last weekend at Jan's, she was telling me about some guy on The View who did a whole segment on tea. One of the interesting things she learned (and passed on to me) was that almost all teas come from the same plant, cameliasinensis, and that the color variations that we get sold on (green tea, black tea, etc) are the same plant at different stages of processing. The "guy" on The View is Mark Ukra, AKA Dr. Tea, and owns a tea garden in West Hollywood.

A few things you need to keep in mind:
1. The amount of tea, NOT the brew time, determine the strength of the tea
2. Use good water, if it doesn't taste good out of the tap, it won't do anything for the tea either
3. Don't squeeze the bags (anymore)...this just adds tannins to the pot which = bitterness

Another benefit to brewing at home instead of stopping @ Dunks or Starbucks, or wherever...is the price. At Seattle's Best...a large iced tea which is 20 oz...is $2! At that is a plain no frills iced tea! For another $1.50 or $2...you could get an entire package of tea or tea bags and make several pitchers at home.

Now...if you are into the frilly stuff here are a few ideas:
1. The Arnold Palmer - 1/2 lemonade and 1/2 iced tea
2. The Twisted Palmer - 1/2 limeade and 1/2 iced tea
3. The Boston - 1/2 cranberry juice and 1/2 iced tea
4. Jazz up your ice cube by freezing berries, lemon slices, or mint inside the cubes
5. Freeze ice tea cube so your drink doesn't get diluted as the cubes melt.
6. While the tea is brewing add your own herbs, like lavender or jasmine
7. Use simple syrup to sweeten instead of the white granulated kind...it mixes and sweetens better.
8. Instead of the traditional lemon, why not oranges or pineapple?

If sweet tea is more your bag (ahemKathy) here is a pretty easy recipe, but you definitely give up the zero calorie factor.

Southern Sweet Tea
4 cups water
8-10 regular-sized
Simple syrup (1+ cups)
Pinch of baking soda
Additional water
Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a saucepan.

Turn off the heat, add teabags (tie the strings together to make 'em easy to pull out) in the pan with a pinch of baking soda. Once it's suitably darkened, and still hot, pull out the bags.

Stir 1/2-1 cup of the simple syrup into the tea until it's thoroughly blended.

Pour the mixture into a 1 gallon glass or metal pitcher, and fill to the top with water. Stir, cool to room temperature and chill in the refrigerator.
Once the tea has cooled, serve it in tall glasses 2/3 filled with ice, with sugar syrup on the side so that guests may sweeten according to their personal taste.

*Simple Syrup is 2 parts sugar to 1 part water. Bring to a boil and remove from heat. Stir constantly until cool and clear.

And since I am all about maximum usage these days...save the old teabags. After brewing (and NOT squeezing) throw the used bags into a baggie and into the fridge. When you are heading into a bath or just need a quick decompression after work...lay down with the cool bags on your eyes for 15 minutes. The teabags help reduce puffiness and dark circles around the eyes!

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