I just returned from a holiday in Bermuda (which was really fantastic!) and could not believe the heat and humidity that greeted me on arriving back in Florida. For those of you who are struggling with some high temps right now (and probably for the rest of summer here in Florida) lets cool off with some refreshing iced tea!
When we talk of iced tea most people immediately think of black tea but there are some great herbals or tisanes available that make refreshing, healthy beverages for all the family. We have some favorites at Local Tea Company and I would like to share them with you during the coming weeks.
Organic Red Berries is an all natural blended Tisane or fruit infusion made from hibiscus flowers, elderberries, bilberries, grapes and citrus peel. This tea has a distinct refreshing berry flavor and bright cherry liquor which is perfect iced. Let’s break down the list of ingredients and look at the benefits they can provide us.
Hibiscus Flowers (Hibiscus sabdariffa)
Hibiscus is a member of the mallow family and it brings a sweet mellow taste and harmony to this blend. Hibiscus has become very popular to blend with other fruits and flowers because of the beautiful color of the infused sepals. It has a cooling effect on the body and is high in Vitamin C also having some calcium, niacin, riboflavin and iron. In Folklore medicine Hibiscus is said to reduce cholesterol and act as a mild diuretic.
Elderberry (Sambuca nigra)
This is a wonderful fruit that strengthens your respiratory tract by helping to remove phlegm and mucous from the lungs and fights and reduces inflammation. A strong respiratory system is your best defense against allergic reaction in the future. Elderberry contains high amounts of Vitamin C and A, can be used as a gargle for throat and tonsil infections or for soothing coughs and colds. I used to collect Elderberries from the hedgerows as they make a superb wine and in fact hot elderberry wine is actually an old English cold remedy.
Black Currants (Ribes nigrum or ‘black ribes’)
The berry of this shrub, which is mainly found in Northern/Central Europe and Asia is used for the astringent flavor and very high anti oxidant levels especially Vitamin C. It also features a rare nutrient called GMA or gammo linoleic acid which is an Omega 6 essential fatty acid (for more information go to a site called www.Blackcurrants.com)
This is a favorite flavor of mine as black currant juice was a very popular cordial during my childhood. The bush thrived in the English climate and became a huge source for Vitamin C during World War 2 when Oranges were impossible to find. The popularity continued and the sweet tart taste is still enjoyed in jams, jellies and desserts to this day.
Not as well known in the USA, this fruit was banned in early 1900 as the plant co-hosted a fungus that was attacking the pines and therefore potentially threatening the logging industry. The Federal ban was lifted in 2003 and black currants are now making a comeback in NY, Vermont, Connecticut and Oregon.
Citrus Peel (C. medica)
The peel of citrus fruit is bitter and not very appetizing when raw but adds great taste and health benefits when dried and added to tea. Citrus peel contains vitamins, minerals, fiber and powerful antioxidants that belong to a group of plant chemicals called flavonoids, which have the potential to lower LDL cholesterol levels.
Rose Hip Peel (Rosa canina)
From the Wild Dog Rose which takes its name from its earliest use as a remedy for bites from ‘mad’ or ‘wild’ dogs. Estimated to be more than 10,000 cultivated roses the medicinal species are natives of Europe, the Rose hips are reddish colored coverings that grow around the real fruits for protection and for this reason they are often called “false fruits”. The nutrient value is as rich as their color and they enhance the function of everything from your skin to your innermost being, containing an array of nutrients, vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants.
When preparing Organic Red Berries use 1 teaspoon per 8oz serving. Heat the water until boiling and steep for anything up to 12 minutes. You may find that 3 minutes is as long as you require this tea to infuse, the longer the tea infuses the darker and stronger the liquor will become but it will never have the bitterness you associate with over infused tea leaves, remember this is a Tisane. To serve iced you can double the quantity of tea or half the water and pour over ice.
At Local Coffee + Tea we serve this tea hot around the Christmas holidays and is really is delicious with a cinnamon stick added too.
Organic Red Berries is naturally caffeine free and suitable for all ages but makes a great healthy, colorful drink for children and will make great ice pops too! Try adding seltzer water and slice of lime for a different twist. Let me know if you have a special creation using this blend.
Stay cool AND healthy with this amazing tea.
Tags: bilberries, black currants, citrus peel, cold brewed tea, downtown sarasota farmers market, elderberries, elderberry, grapes, Hibiscus, ice tea, local coffee + tea, loose leaf tea, rose hip peel, sarasota, Selby Gardens, Siesta Key, Siesta Key Village, sip locally, tea, Tea Lady, tealady, teaspoon