Most store-bought sweetened iced teas are full of it — high fructose corn syrup, that is — and the ‘light’ versions are loaded with artificial sweeteners. Instead, make your own cool, delicious sweetened tea with natural ingredients and you’ll reap all of the antioxidant health benefits while keeping unnessary bottles out of the landfill; you’ll also save money! We sweeten our iced tea with organic agave nectar from Madhava, a Colorado company. Agave nectar is a mild-flavored, all-natural sweetener that is harvested from wild agave plants; it has a low glycemic index, but is 1.4 times sweeter than refined sugar. Here’s the simple recipe:
Iced Citrus Tea with Agave and Mint
2 quarts cold water (2 quarts = 8 cups)
6 to 8 tea bags – your choice (I’m partial to organic Earl Grey, myself)
1 large handful fresh mint leaves, washed
3 – 4 tablespoons agave nectar
2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
the juice of one large orange
Optional garnish: mint sprigs and lemon slices or wedges
If the tea bags have tags, remove them; if they have strings, tie them all together to make removing the tea bags easier. Heat the water to a full rolling boil in a large saucepan. Remove from the heat and add the tea bags and fresh mint. Allow to steep for 30 minutes. Strain the mixture and add the agave nectar, lemon and orange juices; stir until combined. Cool to room temperature, pour in an airtight container and refrigerate. Serve the tea over ice and garnish with mint sprigs and lemon if you wish; the tea will keep in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.
By the way, I know that making sun tea – combining tea and water in a glass jar and leaving it outdoors – is a popular way to make iced tea, but when I was researching an article about cooking with the sun I learned that the practice can be potentially dangerous. Using the sun’s rays to make tea can facilitate the growth of bacteria so it’s best to use the old tried-and-true boiling water method.
P.S. If you liked making your own sweet tea, you might also enjoy this Iced Coffee recipe.
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