“Tea is a really great way to start adding herbs to your diet because it’s tasty, easy to make, and not scary for people because it’s common,” says Karen Page, sales manager at NoLib’s Penn Herb. Her favorite summer tea recipe is Ruby Tea, passed on by an herbalist friend from Virginia. “It’s made from dry hibiscous, which helps lower blood pressure,” says Page. “We sell hundreds of pounds of this stuff because once people try it and see how well it works and how great it tastes, they tell their families, they tell their neighbors, their doctors. It’s amazing.”
And making your own teas from scratch is so much better for you than sipping Snapple. “Lots of these teas really bloom well and exude a lot of essential oils right into the water,” says Page. “So they don’t really even need to steep for that long to get an amazing, rich flavor or beautiful color.”
Check out these three easy herbal iced tea recipes from Penn Herb that you can sip all summer below.
Classic Mint Iced Tea
Due to its menthol content, peppermint is a naturally refreshing herb. Not only will it chill you out and calm you down on a hot summer evening, but it’s also helpful for indigestion, nausea, and any other tummy upset.
4 cups water
4 tablespoons dried peppermint
1 tablespoon honey
2 lemon slices, halved
4 sprigs fresh mint
Bring water to a boil in large, non-aluminum pot. Turn off heat. Stir in peppermint, cover, and let steep for 5 minutes. Strain, pressing on herbs with spoon to extract liquid, and discard herbs (if strainer holes are too large, line strainer with cheesecloth). Stir in honey until dissolved and let cool. Serve over ice. Garnish with a piece of lemon and sprig of mint.
South African Fruit Cooler
This South African tea’s beautiful red color comes from the rooibos, which is high in free-radical-fighting antioxidants, calms irritability and can even help fight allergies. It has a mild, sweet taste and is great on a hot summer day.
8 to 10 ounces of water
1 teaspoon loose rooibos tea
Juice from 1/2 fresh orange
1 teaspoon sugar (if needed for sweetening)
1 glass of ice
Boil water. Pour water over rooibos tea and steep for 2-5 minutes. Strain, and let cool. Pour tea into ice-filled glass. Add juice. Stir and enjoy.
Makes one gallon
1 cup lemon balm
2 tablespoons dried hibiscus flowers
½ cup spearmint leaves
Juice from one fresh lemon
One dollop organic maple syrup, or to taste (optional)
Lemon slices, for garnish
Place the herbs, lemon juice, maple syrup and herbs into a gallon jar. Fill with boiling water and let steep 10 minutes. Strain and discard herbs. Serve hot or over ice garnished with lemon slices.