If you’ve ever made sun tea, you know all about how simple it is to create a little herbal luxury. Herbal Iced Teas, which are a variety of sun teas, are amazingly easy to brew. What you may not realize is that herbal luxury can also be a powerful ally against dehydration and electrolyte imbalance in summer’s heat. The bonus is Herbal Iced teas are super low-cost to brew.
Herbal Iced teas are essentially cold infusions. That means you use cold water to brew them. Cold water extracts a lot of vitamins and minerals alongside volatile oils that are generally lost when you brew with heat. The lack of a heat source (and the cost of providing it) is partly what makes them so inexpensive to brew…and what makes them so tasty. Volatile oils are the essential oils in herbs, giving the resulting teas more depth of flavor and more healing power.
When I brew my Herbal Iced Teas, I skip the sun part of sun tea brewing. While you can most certainly keep yours in a sunny spot on your back porch or counter, you don’t need it to create a tasty extraction. It’s easier to just set my brew on the counter. You can keep it in the refrigerator, too, if that works better for you.
The key to making your Herbal Iced Teas as deeply healing as they are tasty is to choose your herbs wisely. What you’re looking for is herbs with loads of nutrients. Calcium, Magnesium, Sodium, Phosphate, and Potassium are the primary minerals you want specifically for electrolyte balance. In our bodies, they work to create electrically charged ions that help muscles move. That includes both voluntary muscles (which can twitch when electrolytes are low) and involuntary muscles like the heart (which can beat irregularly when electrolytes are low).
Herbs like Raspberry leaf, Nettle, and Chamomile offer electrolyte minerals as well as a variety of other vitamins and minerals, making them a perfect choice for rejuvenating in the summer heat. They’re also generally cooling and nourishing herbs with anti-inflammatory properties. Raspberry leaf and chamomile are classic remedies for the digestive system. Raspberry leaf helps ease inflammation in the lower digestive tract while Chamomile offers up stomach settling and upper digestive system soothing properties. Nettle is gently drying and heating, which may sound contrary to what you’d want on a warm summer’s day, but nettle’s diuretic and anti-inflammatory properties help the body release toxins while replacing any lost nutrients with its ample vitamin and mineral compliment.
In my brews, I like to include some dried fruits, too. They often have vitamins, like vitamin C and A, that aren’t in as abundant quantities as leaf herbs and I love the sweet flavor they contribute to the tea. Lychee berries offer up both electrolyte minerals and other vitamins as well as helpful digestive properties. They also contain oligonol, an antioxidant that helps protect skin against UV damage as well as improve circulation and fight flus and colds. Blueberries offer more antioxidants and electrolyte nutrients. They’re connected to blood sugar balancing, making them effective for balancing insulin response and protecting the digestive system of diabetics and healthy folk alike. On a hot, summer’s day, lychee and blueberry are a tasty treat.
To make my Herbal Iced Teas feel like super high-class luxury, I add a touch of raw, local honey. A little honey offers just enough sweetness to balance the bitter qualities of the herbs. I like to garnish my glasses with a sprig of mint or lemon balm, too. There’s something absolutely refreshing about the light, stimulating scent of mint or lemon balm when you’re resting in the shade on a hot day.
If you’d like more information on Cold infusion or the herbs I’ve discussed, check out The Practical Herbalist. You’ll find a variety of recipes and herbal information there.
Candace’s Herbal-ade Iced Tea
I make my Herbal Iced Teas in a canning jar on my counter. This recipe is geared to make a half-gallon. If you don’t have half-gallon sized canning jars, you can split the recipe across two quart-sized canning jars or you can use a half-gallon pitcher with a lid or a cloth to cover it if you don’t have a lid.
- 1/4 cup dried raspberry Leaf
- 1/4 cup dried chamomile flowers
- 2 Tablespoons dried nettle leaf
- 1 Tablespoon dried blueberries
- 1 Tablespoon dried lychee berries
- Raw, local honey to taste (optional)
- 1/2 gallon water
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Half gallon glass container with lid
- Pitcher for serving
- Measure the herbs into the glass container.
- Add the water so that all the herbs are thoroughly wet.
- Cover the glass jar and let it stand for 4 hours to overnight.
- Strain the plant material from the liquid, catching the liquid in a pitcher.
- Taste it and add honey to sweeten as desired.
- Compost the plant material.
- Add ice to the pitcher and serve with a lovely mint or lemon balm garnish.
You can keep your iced tea in the refrigerator up to two days.