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Celebrate National Iced Tea Day with these Top 7 iced tea recipes

I moved here from Rhode Island where Del’s Lemonade signified the start of summer. The fresh, lemony, icy slush was delicious but only an occasional treat. When we moved to Greenville six years ago, I craved a cold, flavorful, non-alcoholic beverage to sip on through the hot summer months, but the staple sweetened iced tea was often too sweet for me.

Today, we celebrate National Iced Tea Day and the South’s iconic hot-weather drink. It is estimated that Americans consume more than 80 billion servings of tea annually. That’s more than 3.6 billion gallons! For many in the Upstate, the sweeter the iced tea, the better. But for those like me who want their tea a bit less sugary, I’m sharing some of my experiments with iced tea flavorings that include some sweetness (and more that you can add to taste) but with a twist on the classic Southern favorite.

But first, some quick tips: I like making tea in mason jars – they are easy to grab, great for steeping the tea, and for keeping in the refrigerator to cool. They also look really summery and fresh when you add some garnishes to them.

As far as steeping tea – remember not to leave the teabag in the water too long – the longer it sits, the stronger the tea will get and eventually it will make the tea overly bitter. Also, don’t squeeze your tea bags when removing them – that adds a level of bitterness to your tea which is great in hot tea, but not so much in iced tea!

And lastly, try green tea, white tea, oolong and others, and even experiment with adding fresh orange juice or lemonade or even using coconut water to steep your tea. Enjoy these Top 7 refreshing recipes throughout the summer and let us know your favorite.

Lemon Basil Iced Tea
Lemons, thinly sliced
5-6 fresh basil leaves
2 green tea bags
3 cups hot water
Honey to taste (optional)

Add lemon slices and green tea bags to a mason jar. Add the hot water and let the tea steep for 10 minutes. Remove the tea bags, add in the basil leaves and honey to taste and chill for 3-4 hours before serving.

Coconut Limoncello Iced Tea
2 black tea bags
3 tablespoons Limoncello vinegar
Honey to taste (optional)
Sliced limes to garnish

Add lime slices, Limoncello vinegar and black tea bags to a mason jar. Add the heated coconut water and let the tea steep for 10 minutes. Remove the tea bags, add honey to taste and chill for 3-4 hours before serving.

Iced Peach-Apricot & Ginger Tea
2 green tea bags
3 cups hot water
3 tablespoons Peach Apricot vinegar
Honey to taste (optional)
I peach, pitted and sliced for garnish
2 slices ginger

Add sliced peaches, ginger slices, Peach Apricot vinegar and green tea bags to a mason jar. Add the hot water and let the tea steep for 10 minutes. Remove the tea bags, add honey to taste and chill for 3-4 hours before serving.

Strawberry Mint Iced Tea
2 green tea bags
3 cups hot water
3 tablespoons Strawberry Pulp vinegar
Strawberry Honey to taste (optional)
4-6 fresh strawberries, halved or sliced
6-8 sprigs/leaves of fresh mint
Fresh blueberries as garnish

Add strawberries, Strawberry vinegar and green tea bags to a mason jar. Add the hot water and let the tea steep for 10 minutes. Remove the tea bags, add honey to taste, and fresh mint leaves. Chill for 3-4 hours before serving. Add fresh blueberries to garnish

Peach Mango White Iced Tea
2 White Tea bags
3 cups hot water
2 peaches pitted and diced
I cup chopped frozen mango, thawed
2 tablespoons Mango Pulp vinegar
¼ cup granulated sugar (to taste)

Steep the tea bags in the hot water for about 5 minutes and then discard the tea bags. Let the tea cool to room temperature.

In a separate bowl mix the chopped peaches, thawed mango, and Mango Pulp vinegar. Allow the fruit to macerate. Transfer the fruit and juices to a mason jar, add the cooled tea and add sugar to taste. Chill and serve over ice.

Lavender Iced Tea from the new Pelindaba Lavender store on N. Main Street in downtown Greenville.
2 tablespoons of Lavender Black Ceylon Tea
2 quarts of hot water
Organic Lavender Honey to taste

Steep the tea in the hot water for 5- 10 minutes. Sweeten to taste with the Lavender honey. Let the tea cool and refrigerate till cold. Serve over ice with a sprig of fresh lavender.

And lastly, a nice fresh take on an iced tea and lemonade combination that is absolutely delicious, from my good friends Valerie and Justin at the Spice & Tea Exchange on N. Main Street in downtown Greenville.

Blueberry Tea-Lemonade
¼ cup TSTE Blueberry Black Tea
½ cup TSTE Blueberry Sugar
16 oz filtered water, heated to boiling
8 oz fresh lemon juice
16 oz sparkling water
Lemon slices to garnish

Steep the Blueberry Black Tea in the heated water for 4 minutes. Strain. Add the sugar to the brewed tea and stir until the sugar dissolves. Allow to cool to room temperature, add lemon juice, and sparkling water. Mix, chill and serve with lemon slices to garnish

So, enjoy all the hot weather we are having, with a glass (or two) of iced tea – combining that Southern taste you crave, with a healthy twist on a cool drink!

About the Author

Veera Gaul is a trained chef whose passion for food led her into the hospitality business, then into higher education at Johnson & Wales University — known for its culinary and hospitality programs. She began at JWU as a graduate student and went on to be a faculty member, vice president of operations for the Providence campus and Provost overseeing all academic programs and faculty. Veera left JWU in March of 2013 and moved to Greenville, SC where she and her husband, Joe, own Oil & Vinegar in downtown Greenville.

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