march 23, 2021
I want to break my dependence on single serving beverages. I get thirsty when I’m running errands so I grab an iced tea at the store. Aluminum cans and glass bottles are more readily recyclable than plastics, which I try to avoid, but I’m still contributing small containers to the huge pool of Things That Must Be Recycled. Most iced tea brands use plastic packaging; many recent articles inform us that only a small fraction of plastics are actually recycled and repurposed.
Sweet or Unsweet?
There is also the idea of unwanted calories in “lightly sweetened” drinks that still taste like dessert to my palate. Sweet tea refreshes on a hot summer day, but in general I go for unsweetened or barely sweet. This easy iced tea pleases both camps of tea drinkers; customize and add more honey if that’s your thing or completely ditch the honey and let the citrus flavor prevail.
Clementines are in season for a little longer, so this is my citrus of choice. Clementines are soft and squishy and easy to juice by hand. For a savory use of clementines, see Citrus Napa Cabbage Salad for the clementine vinaigrette. You can use lime, grapefruit or lemon in your iced tea and increase the honey accordingly. Any type of citrus will render your iced tea a little cloudy; if you like, straining through cheesecloth or fine mesh will cut the murky appearance.
Another step gives less cloudy iced tea : avoid wringing out the tea bags once steeped and simply remove without squeezing.
The nice folks at Luzianne have tips for making proper iced tea. This is my go-to brand for best flavor. Plain tea is wonderful and pure, either sweet or unsweet. Fresh mint from my garden shows up in summer pitchers of iced tea for seasonal interest. I also throw in random bags of herbal tea to my black tea beverages for a tastebud kick. Store your homemade iced tea in heavy glass pitchers for optimal quality—plastic containers retain both color and flavor from previous occupants and with iced tea purity is everything.
The advantages of making your own iced tea are enough to make you take the extra steps involved: better for the environment with less waste and optional composting of those tea bags, better for your wallet and likely better for your health since all is fresh and pure. My goal is to fill my stainless steel water bottles with homemade iced tea for those errand days and ditch the single use packaging.
Clementine Honey Iced Tea
recipe by Michele Humlan, The Good Eats Company
makes about two quarts
two family size black tea bags – I like Luzianne
3 tablespoons (or to taste) honey
1 cup strained clementine juice (from about 9 clementines)
- Pour four cups boiling water over the tea bags and honey, give a gentle stir and let steep 4 minutes.
- To avoid extra cloudiness, simply remove the tea bags without squeezing – if you compost, the bags can be added.
- Add clementine juice and 2 cups cold water (add one more cup water if you like a milder tea flavor).
- Chill well.
- If you want a more clear tea, pour the tea through cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer.