Herbal Iced Teas

Herbal Iced Teas

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    Summer is the time to explore the wonderful world of herbal iced teas!  I graduated from making iced tea with tea bags long ago and have since been developing recipes for making potent, tonic herbal iced teas and lemonades that are as nutritious as they are refreshing. 
    The key to maximizing the nutritional power of your herbal iced teas and beverages is to make a tonic infusion with the herbs.  A tonic infusion is a fancy way of saying a very strong, nutritious tea made with the intent to nourish or heal.
    The following recipes can be endlessly adapted by experimenting with different herbs, juices and sweeteners while leaving the basic proportions the same.
    My favorite iced tea herbs are Mint, Red Clover, Lemon Balm, Comfrey, Anise Hyssop & Red or Black Raspberry leaves.  But don’t stop there as there are many, many more possibilities………..

 

Basic Tonic Infusion (1 quart)

1.  Put ½-1 cup dried herbs into a quart mason jar.  {Fresh herbs need to be simmered gently right in the water for a few minutes to break down cell walls.  Dried herbs have brittle cell walls}
2.  Bring 1 quart water to boiling.
3.  Pour water over herbs and fill to top of jar.
4.  Cover or put a lid on the jar.  {Some herbs have volatile oils that easily evaporate into thin air if not covered}
5.  Let steep at least 8 hours or overnight.  {Long steeping allows the water time to dissolve and do its work, much increasing the potency of the tea}
6.  Strain and drink.  {I tend to strain as needed, leaving the herbs in the infusion to continue steeping until the tea is gone}
7.  Store in refrigerator.

 

Red Clover Iced Tea (1gallon)

4 cups fresh red clover blossoms, chopped
1 gallon water
1 cup honey

1. Gently simmer chopped Red Clover Blossoms in a covered pot for 10 minutes.  (Note: Covering your pot with a tight-fitting lid prevents evaporation of the volatile, aromatic oils, keeping the flavor more intact)
2. Add honey, stirring until it dissolves.
3. Cover and let steep and cool for several hours or overnight.  (This makes a strong, potent tea, maximizing the calcium and other nutrients in the clover.)
4.  Chill overnight.  Serve in a tall glass with ice.  Float a fresh Red Clover Blossom leaf for a garnish for those special occasions.

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 Fresh Mint Lemonade (1 gallon)

Herbal lemonades are a refreshing summer drink, and a wonderful way to sneak some nutritious greens into the family’s diet.
4 cups fresh mint, chopped
1 gallon water
1-2 cups honey 
1 ½ cups lemon juice

1. Gently simmer chopped mint leaves in a covered pot for 10 minutes.  (Note: Covering your pot with a tight-fitting lid prevents evaporation of the volatile, aromatic oils in mint, keeping the flavor more intact)
2. Add honey, stirring until it dissolves.
3. Cover and let steep and cool for several hours or overnight.  (This makes a strong, potent tea, maximizing the calcium and other nutrients in the mint.)
4.  Add lemon juice and chill in the fridge.
Mints make a classy lemonade, but this same recipe can be made using any mild, nutritive herb. 

 

Red Clover Raspberry Juice (1/2 gallon)

An excellent way to sneak nourishing herbal infusions into your children’s diet is to use tea instead of water when you make frozen juice concentrates.
6 cups Red Clover infusion
1 can frozen Raspberry juice concentrate

1.  Make Red Clover infusion, steeping overnight for maximum nutritional value.
2.  Add 1 can frozen juice concentrate to the tea.
3.  Chill in refrigerator for several hours or serve in a tall glass with lots of ice.
Note: This recipe takes about 24 hours of long-steeping and chilling to make, so do plan ahead. You can use any flavor of juice concentrate to mix with tonic infusions, so feel free to improvise! 

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Rehydration Drink ( 1½ quarts)

This is an excellent recipe for those dog days of summer when we really need to pay attention to keeping ourselves well-hydrated.  I like to drink a quart a day of this during the hottest part of summer.  
1 quart herbal infusion
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup lime or lemon juice (2 fresh limes or lemons)
½ teaspoon salt
¼ tsp baking soda

 

Roasted Root Iced Coffee (1 gallon)

I generally make this with roasted Dandelion root, but lately am experimenting with other roasted roots such as thistle, burdock and chicory.  This iced tea is awesome and well worth all the effort of preparing the roots or the cost of buying them.  
2 cups roasted Dandelion (or other) roots
1 gallon water
1-2 cups sugar
1 Tbsp vanilla
1 pint half-n-half or heavy cream

1.  Simmer roots gently in water for about ½ hour or so.
2.  Let cool to room temperature, leaving the roots in to steep a bit longer.
3.  Add sugar and vanilla.
4.  Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.
5.  Add half-n-half or cream just before serving.

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