For over a decade, I couldn’t believe that something as simple as brewed plain black tea was poisoned by hard to pronounce chemicals, artificial colour and various forms of highly processed sugar. Or that 16 oz could cost as much as $3. I always thought there must be a secret that makes store-bought iced tea special. Nope, there isn’t.
After making kombucha from scratch, I became quite experienced with brewing tea in pots instead of cups, and three 1 lb bags of Numi organic tea are meant to be used up. I started experimenting with simple black tea mixed with maple syrup, and after inspiring visit to Amy’s on our San Francisco road trip and a few more batches we have a family favourite refreshing lime iced tea. All friends we have entertained so far this summer, our kids and even their friends love it! Our healthy lime iced tea is not only free of “poison” but full of antioxidants, vitamin C and is super refreshing. And lime tastes amazing in an iced tea!
How to Make Lime Iced Tea
To make lime iced tea, all you need is loose leaf tea (preferably organic), maple syrup, club soda, lemon and lime. I do find a huge taste difference between tea bags and loose leaf tea. With loose tea you taste pure deep flavour of actual tea leaves, where as with tea bags you are not only tasting paper but also are drinking more chemicals that are used in the process of bleaching and manufacturing that paper (and I bet you have never thought of that tiny metal staple holding the string on a tea bag that is “steeping” and leaching into your tea?!).
After tea is brewed, which literally means stirring a few tablespoons of tea leaves in boiling water, I place the pot outside in a shade on a stone patio to cool off. If you do not have AC like me, removing hot pot from the kitchen in summer keeps it cooler. Sometimes I plan ahead, brew tea in the evening and leave on the stove to cool off overnight, then heat is not an issue.
After tea is lukewarm (it doesn’t have to be completely cool), transfer it to a pitcher by laddling through a mesh strainer. Once pot is half full, you can strain directly from the pot foregoing the laddle.
Squeeze lime and lemon. The trick with using this type of squeezer is to place fruit cut side down.
Add lime and lemon skins to iced tea along with maple syrup, and stir. Discard skins after 10 minutes, which is plenty of time to get that extra flavour out without making iced tea bitter.
I haven’t tried making iced tea with honey but can’t imagine the reason it wouldn’t work. You will just have to stir a bit longer to dilute the honey and taste wise iced tea will be a bit different, but the health benefits of honey won’t be ruined by hot water thus making this summer drink super healthy. A note on maple syrup taste – it will be way less prominent after those 10 minutes.
At this point your iced tea is ready to be enjoyed or refrigerated. I cover my pitcher with plastic wrap and refrigerate for days.
If serving the crowd, add a can of unflavoured club soda (sparkling water) directly to the pitcher with ice and extra slices of lime. Or you can add it to individual glasses as you serve. Club soda adds a bit of carbonation which tastes amazing. We discovered this combo by mixing plain unsweetened iced tea with lime lemon soda at Amy’s. It takes traditional homemade iced tea to the next level!
- 6 cups water
- 2 tbsp black loose leaf tea
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1 large lemon
- 1 large lime + more for garnish
- 1 can club soda (unflavoured sparkling water)
- Ice cubes
- In a medium pot, bring water to a boil. Turn off heat, add tea leaves, stir and let steep while cooling down completely or until lukewarm (I place mine in a shady spot on a stone patio outside on hot summer days).
- Transfer tea to a large pitcher by laddling it through a mesh strainer, discard the tea leaves. Add maple syrup, squeeze lemon and lime juice, add the peels (skins) to the pitcher, stir with a long wooden spoon and let tea sit for 10 minutes. Discard the citrus skins otherwise iced tea will be bitter tasting.
- Now you can store your iced tea covered with plastic wrap or lid in a fridge for quite a few days. Right before serving add ice and a can of club soda to a pitcher, stir and enjoy the best sparkling healthy iced tea (garnish with thin lime slices if desired). Tea tastes amazing without club soda too, adjust sweetness to taste. Kids LOVE this lime iced tea with a bit of extra maple syrup in their glasses.