Take Your Iced Tea Up a Notch

Ahhhh! A tall ice-cube filled glass of freshly brewed iced tea is the perfect antidote to a steamy August day. Either unsweetened or sweetened with a natural no-calorie sweetener, iced tea is a South Beach Diet-friendly sipper that’s easy to make from scratch. Here’s how to make perfect iced tea.

Choose your variety. Virtually any tea that you like to drink hot can be made iced. Black, green, white, red, or herbal teas are all delicious chilled. Use either tea bags or loose tea, and try to shop at a busy market that has a high turnover. Over time, the oils that flavor tea tend to break down, so your tea will have less flavor if it’s not fresh

Use the right water. Start with filtered tap water or spring water, but avoid using mineral water (the minerals can create an off-flavor). Use boiling water for black and herbal teas, but keep the water hot (not boiling) when brewing green and white teas. Brew according to the directions on the package. Chill before serving.

Customize your brew. Squeeze a little fresh lemon or lime juice directly into your tea, and garnish the glass with a lemon or lime wedge. Experiment by making up your own flavor combinations. For Hibiscus Lime Iced Tea (Phase 2), steep 4 hibiscus tea bags in 4 cups of boiling water for 5 minutes. Remove the tea bags, chill the tea, and pour into ice-filled glasses. Garnish with a few raspberries and some fresh mint sprigs. For Green Mint Tea (Phase 1), use 4 green tea bags to 4 cups of very hot water; add a little natural no-calorie sweetener, if desired, and mint leaves for garnish. For Earl Grey Iced Tea (Phase 1), use 4 Earl Grey tea bags to 4 cups of boiling water and garnish each glass with a lemon slice after chilling. For Peach Iced Tea (Phase 2), use any kind of black or green tea you prefer and stir in some peeled, chopped peaches and a natural no-calorie sweetener just before serving, if desired. You can make Blueberry Mint iced tea by subbing in blueberries and mint leaves for the chopped peach.

Use garnishes creatively. On all Phases, you can use fresh mint or basil leaves or lemon or lime slices for a garnish. On Phase 2, freeze some slices of fresh plum and fresh peach on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Once your iced tea is ready, slip a couple of icy slices into each glass for a colorful garnish.

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