June is Iced Tea Month! Now, that may not sound like the most exciting holiday, but bear with me for a second. Iced tea is a beverage that can either be an integral part of a healthy eating pattern or a sneaky source of added sugars and empty calories. Celebrating Iced Tea Month offers a fantastic opportunity to help your audience rethink their drinks, leading them to make healthier choices that are lower in added sugars.
Here's how to do it.
Skip Bottled Options
Iced tea doesn't have to be sweet in order to be delicious. Instead of the pre-made packaged varieties, encourage your clients to make tea at home. It's cheap, easy, and, if they make their tea at home, they will have complete control over the ingredients.
Boost Flavor with Fruit
This tip is a standby for a reason. If people make iced tea at home, they can add natural sweetness and visual appeal with pieces of fresh or frozen fruit.
Build a flavor profile:
- Pair mint tea with slices of citrus fruits like lemons, limes, and oranges. It also goes well with mango.
- Mix a fruit-flavored tea like Lemon Zinger with handfuls of frozen berries. Blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, and raspberries are all great options.
- Combine gentle herbal tea with slices of pear or pineapple.
Another way to use fruit in iced tea is to sweeten the tea with some 100% fruit juice. Although it doesn't quite have a nutrient profile that's as fantastic as whole fruit, it's a whole lot better than added sugars. Remember to keep portion size low and just use a splash or two of juice in each cup.
Bring Spices and Extracts into the Mix
A drop or two of vanilla extract can add a touch of sweetness along with plenty of flavor. Plus, depending on what tastes are desired, almond extract and mint extract can play the same role in iced tea.
Brewing iced tea with spices is yet another way to boost flavor without actual sweeteners. Add a dash of cinnamon or nutmeg to the tea while it's still hot, stir well, then refrigerate until cool for a spicy and refreshing source of iced tea.
Brighten the Glass with Fresh Herbs
Fresh herbs pair wonderfully well with iced tea. Try mint, rosemary, thyme, or even basil for a blast of flavor without any chemicals or empty calories.
Because these herbs may wilt if left submerged in the liquid for too long, place them in glasses just before serving. This will also help keep the flavor mild.
Add Beautiful Ice Cubes
People can also freeze slices of fresh fruit or herbs into pretty ice cubes that in turn will add pep to any glass of iced tea.
And there you have it! A collection of ways to boost flavor without adding sugar.
So, will you be celebrating Iced Tea Month? This information would make a great handout (so yes, of course I turned it into a free handout that you can download now). It's also perfect for email blasts, newsletters, and even cooking demonstrations.
In fact, if you'd like to see exactly how I would celebrate Iced Tea Month with a cooking demonstration, don't miss the members-only post Cooking Demonstration Idea for June! It has step-by-step instructions, along with a new handout and fresh presentation tips.
And, as always, there's lots more in the Nutrition Education Store. Check out these fantastic drink and added sugar educational materials...
Stephanie Ronco has been editing for Food and Health Communications since 2011. She graduated from Colorado College magna cum laude with distinction in Comparative Literature. She was elected a member of Phi Beta Kappa in 2008.