It takes just minutes to brew at home the same gourmet iced teas you enjoy at restaurants and cafés.
The assorted teas that you use for hot tea—green, blackberry, herbal—make delicious iced teas too (and using them up faster keeps your tea supply fresher). Or, buy bags or loose tea in favorite iced flavors like raspberry and peach. Enjoy experimenting to see what you like best “on the rocks,” with and without lemon or lime wedges. These delicious cold beverages are also a treat for your guests. And, they’re calorie-free.
As with coffee, each tea takes its name from the area in which it’s grown, and the areas in turn are known for their distinctive and uniquely flavored teas. Tea is also divided by grades, determined by leaf size. Smaller sized leaves are used in tea bags while the larger sized leaves can be found in packaged loose tea.
If you love a good cup of tea—or a tall frosty glass of iced tea—you’ll appreciate the difference between fine, gourmet tea made from top quality whole leaves and mass-marketed teas produced from bits and pieces. There is such a large variety of gourmet tea, so much to discover, and so many lovely tea sets, that you can treat yourself and those on your gift list to a seemingly endless variety of black, oolong, green and white teas.
Here's what some studies have found about the potential health benefits of tea:
Green tea: Made with steamed tea leaves, it has a high concentration of EGCG and has been widely studied. Green tea’s antioxidants may interfere with the growth of bladder, breast, lung, stomach, pancreatic, and colorectal cancers; prevent clogging of the arteries, burn fat, counteract oxidative stress on the brain, reduce risk of neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, reduce risk of stroke, and improve cholesterol levels.
Black tea: Made with fermented tea leaves, black tea has the highest caffeine content and forms the basis for flavored teas like chai, along with some instant teas. Studies have shown that black tea may protect lungs from damage caused by exposure to cigarette smoke. It also may reduce the risk of stroke.
White tea: Uncured and unfermented. One study showed that white tea has the most potent anticancer properties compared to more processed teas.
Oolong tea: In an animal study, those given antioxidants from oolong tea were found to have lower bad cholesterol levels. One variety of oolong, Wuyi, is heavily marketed as a weight loss supplement, but science hasn’t backed the claims.
Carol Schimmer is a registered dietitian and clinical nutrition manager with Providence Medical Center.
Hibiscus-Pomegranate Iced Tea
1/4 cup loose hibiscus tea, or 12 herbal tea bags that contain hibiscus
4 cups boiling water
1 cup pomegranate juice or nectar
4 cups cold water
Lemon wedges, for garnish