Sweet iced tea lightened up, Slow + Simple

Image via The Entertaining House

Iced tea is refreshing, and conducive to a Slow + Simple lifestyle. 

I drink a ton of water... when I'm working out... Truth be told water is not the first thing I grab and I don't love it. And, call me crazy, but water on an empty stomach does not fill me - in fact it makes me feel queasy. We drink plenty of flavored seltzer but I'm not one for monotony - I need to change things up every now and then. In the summertime we tend to have quite a bit of iced tea and lemonade in the house. The kids aren't really fans of regular home-brewed teas, though they like it sweetened with lemonade. But over the course of a day the sugars add up. The sugar-free iced teas that are sold on the market leave a bad after-taste.

One of my favorite splurges, I discovered last summer - Starbucks' Passion Fruit Tea Lemonade. I would take it unsweetened and add a little bit of sweetener to it. But this, over the course of the summer, costs the same as a mini vacation! So I set off to make this on my own. I not only have perfected it - I improved upon it! Better yet is that my children love it too. We've branched out from the passion fruit tea - we've used orange, lemon, regular black tea and green tea. Our little secret is a home-made lemon simple syrup and muddled mint. Seriously, it's like a mini vacation in your mouth! 

Image via The Entertaining House

First thing's first. You have to make your iced tea. Measure desired water - use a pitcher. In a 1 quart pitcher I will add 4-5 tea bags depending on the strength of the tea. Making iced tea is simple. Pour the pitcher of water into a pot, then bring the water to a boil. Remove pot from the heat and add tea bags. Let steep - as long as you wish - 10 minutes at minimum for greatest flavor. When the tea has cooled slightly pour into your pitcher and place in fridge or add ice and serve immediately. (If still warm add additional ice to each glass.)

Or, now that the weather's warming up...

Make a Sun Tea

Sun tea is so easy to make... It's Slow + Simple and the kids love to help with this. Because there's no real heat this is great for your kids to help "make as well." Take your pitcher and fill it with water. Take 4-5 tea bags of your desired choice and place them into the cold water. Bring your pitcher outside and place it on a table in the sun. It will take a couple of hours, but watch as the sun's rays make your tea. There's just something about sun tea... it really does taste better.

I like to keep Lemon Simple Syrup on hand in the fridge. 

It couldn't be easier to make. Squeeze the juice of 3-4 large lemons. This should yield approximately 1 cup of lemon juice. Pour the juice into a small sauce pan and add equal amounts of sugar. Heat the juice until the sugar dissolves. Let cool slightly. The mixture will thicken. Transfer into a pretty bottle of container. Some recipes call for adding water to the mixture. I don't - we like it super lemony!

Into my glass of tea filled with 8 oz of iced tea and ice cubes, I add 1 - 2 tbs of lemon simple syrup, a couple of fresh mint leaves and stir well while muddling the leaves to make the most of their mint flavor. What you'll get is a lightly sweetened, very refreshing slightly sweetened iced tea. If you or your children like something a little sweeter, add a little bit of Stevia, which is a natural, calorie-free, plant-based sweetener. Use just a bit, a whole packet will be much too much. The whole point is to offer something slightly but not too sweet. 

Another way to sweeten up your tea is to add 1/4 cup of any freshly squeezed juice. Again, the point is to add a touch of sweetness - just a touch. We love clementines and I buy them weekly. When they're just about to turn, they're really juicy and perfect for juicing. I don't have a juicer - I use a citrus squeezer and do it the old fashioned way. Add the juice, fresh ice and some muddled mint...

Image via The Entertaining House

Image via The Entertaining House

...then grab your sunglasses, a book and head out to your porch or hammock!