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. Served 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 favorite 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 preparing black and herbal teas, but keep the water hot (not boiling) for green and white teas. Steep according to the directions on the package. Chill before serving.

Customize your tea. Experiment by making up your own flavor combinations. For Hibiscus-Raspberry 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 Mint Green Tea (all Phases), use 4 green tea bags to 4 cups of very hot water; add a little natural no-calorie sweetener, if desired, and muddle in some mint leaves for flavor. For Earl Grey Lemon Iced Tea (all Phases), use 4 Earl Grey tea bags to 4 cups of boiling water, squeeze in some fresh lemon juice, 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, or a peach-flavored herbal tea, 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 or zest 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 addition.

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