Tea is a pretty fantastic beverage.  Green, black, herbal, white, red, and my latest favorite – yerba mate, all have their own arsenal of health benefits that come in a huge variety of tasty flavors.  With the exception of black tea, which can be a little high in caffeine for some people, these teas, these teas really have no down-side nutritionally speaking.  When brewed fresh and consumed plain, have zero calories and can be calming, invigorating, sooth the stomach, ease a headache, and even be good for the reproductive system, among other potential health benefits.  But what really gets tea into the news are its antioxidant properties.  Antioxidants are those magical little chemicals that neutralize the oxidation process in our cells, which in turn can protect against cancer and other diseases, prevent the aging process, and calm inflammation.  That’s all really good stuff.

As much as I love tea, I don’t much feel like drinking a steaming cup with this 95 degree weather we have.  So what about iced tea?  I came across this article on yahoo a couple of days ago that talks about the antioxidant content of bottled iced teas.  Interestingly, the antioxidant content of bottled teas is next to zero!  This is a bit of a bummer, although not entirely surprising.  Vegetables start to loose their nutrition content as soon as their picked, so it makes some sense that brewed teas might do the same.  I’m sure iced teas that sit on grocery store shelves have been sitting for quite a while by the time they’re consumed. 

The good news is that you can make your own iced tea – it’s so easy, and SO much cheaper than buying the pre-bottled variety.  Besides, 95% of the bottled iced teas on the market are loaded with sugar or artificial sweeteners, which are crap for your health and take away from the honest flavor of a good tea.  To brew your own, take 2-3 teabags and steep in a large pitcher of hot water, then simply stick in the fridge until you want it!  Or, for an even easier method try sun tea – take the teabags and put them in a pitcher of water and place in the sun for a few hours.  The heat from the sun will brew the tea, and you don’t even have to go through the time it takes to boil water.  I use old glass milk jugs to make sun tea, and you could also use mason jars or any glass vessel you have on hand.  (I do recommend glass.  You can use plastic, but plastic generally doesn’t hold up well with the UV coming from sun). 

Enjoy!