Hot Weather Herbal Refreshers – from Iced Tea to Lemonade

These easy herbal iced tea recipes can all be created from a basic template; simply customize according to your preferences (Photos by Carol Little, RH)

Summertime is finally here and hydration is key to enjoying the season with optimum health. On days when it’s hazy, hot, and humid I turn to my favourite cool herbal beverages for refreshment.

I hope you’ll enjoy these tasty recipes and learn how easy it is to make herbal iced tea preparations.  These are some of my ‘go to’ herbs and simple iced tea recipe ideas, along with a detailed template which makes it easy to create liquid refreshments from the garden.

What you choose to experiment with will depend upon your own personal taste preferences. Some people love the citrus-tasting herbs, while others favour a lively tart flavour or maybe herbs with hints of licorice. The herbs below represent a cross-section of my own favourites.

12 Herb Ideas for Iced Tea Refreshment

BEE BALM – An herbal infusion made with Bee balm can help to relieve digestive issues such as bloating, gas, and indigestion. My favourite is the red-flowered bee balm (typically monarda fistulosa) – a soothing and supportive digestive herb.

ANISE HYSSOP – When crushed, the leaves of this herb have a lovely scent of licorice, similar to crushed fennel seeds. The plant is good for the heart, digestive system, and for sleep support.

Anise Hyssop

CHAMOMILE – Tea made from colourful chamomile flowers has a calming effect on the body, and can work as a natural remedy to help manage menstrual pain, sleep problems, and tummy issues.

FENNEL SEED – This licorice-flavoured herb is traditionally used in Ayurveda to soothe and support digestion, and calm flatulence.

HIBISCUS – These gorgeous flowers make a tart-tasting tea that is rich in vitamin C, and is anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer. As well, hibiscus can help lower blood pressure and stabilize blood sugar levels.

LAVENDER – This herb’s aromatic leaves and flowers are calming and uplifting. A soothing cup of lavender tea can help you sleep better at night, boost mood, and relieve stress and anxiety. It is best blended with other herbs as it’s strong on its own.

Lavender

LEMON BALM – This citrusy-tasting leaves of Lemon balm support digestion and help clear the mind and lift spirits.

LEMON VERBENA – Also with citrus notes, this herb has a rejuvenating fresh scent and is helpful for tummy upsets, cramps, and nausea.

LEMON GRASS – This plant tastes like mild citrus with a hint of ginger. It has antibacterial and antifungal properties, and has been used as a pain reliever and fever reducer.

LEMON THYME – These delicate leaves offer a light lemony flavour, and their decongestant properties make them beneficial for colds as well as supporting the digestive system.

ROSEMARY – This spiky plant works to stimulate circulation which helps to soothe aches and pains. It also helps clear congestion and boosts mood and memory.

SPEARMINT (or Mojito Mint or your favourite mint) – This herb is refreshing and wonderful for soothing digestive issues.

My own personal choice for herbal iced tea is Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis). Melissa’s fresh lemony taste is delicious on its own or in combination with other herbs. Lemon Balm is uplifting, nourishing,  and helps to improve digestion. It is also believed to support mental health.

We can use both fresh and/or dried herbs for tea. Personally, I use both. Often, by choosing dried herbs for brewing a hot cup of tea, there’s more consistency and it’s easier to store and manage dried herbs over the cooler months.

But in summer and early fall I often choose fresh herbs … and sometimes end up trying a combo of cuttings when I’ve been out in the garden giving some of the plants a ‘haircut’. (Herbs love to be clipped!)
I tend to use about three times more fresh herbs than dried herbs.

To explain this idea further, here’s an example of a popular herbal tea blend which is delightful hot or chilled and uses both fresh and dried herbs:

5 grams of hibiscus flowers (dried)
15 to 20 grams of fresh spearmint (large handful from your garden)
10 grams of other fresh herbs (another handful) such as violet leaves, lemon balm or lemon verbena
1.5 litres pure water

Chop the fresh herbs. Add the dried herbs. Mix.
Add the water (just boiled) and steep for 20 minutes or so.

Tips:

Choose one type of herb for your tea or combine several different ones. We can also  add fresh or dried fruits, flower petals or aromatics like cinnamon or ginger to your tea.

  • Crush dried herbs a little before steeping to help release essential oils
  • Muddle (gently bruise , rub or crush) fresh herbs to release their essential oils. Don’t
    crush too much, just a little , as we want to avoid over-exposing the green chlorophyll which can provide a bitter taste.
  • If we need to use dried herbs that have been on hand for a while, we may want to use a little more to improve the flavour.
  • There are no set rules – base your combination on your personal preferences for
    colour, flavour, caffeine vs decaffeinated plus any desired therapeutic benefits
  • Don’t expect bright vibrant colours like you get with commercial herbal teas.
  • If you want brighter colours, consider adding hibiscus, calendula flowers or the amazing  blue butterfly pea blossoms to your herbal tea mix.
  • Some herbs are best used fresh as they lose flavour when dried.(Lemon balm for example)

RECIPES

These easy herbal iced tea recipes can all be created from this basic template; simply customize according to your preferences.  We can make these adaptable for keto and low carb lifestyles too by choosing stevia as opposed to sugar or raw honey as a sweetener.  I tend to make my tea without sweeteners initially, and then adjust later. It’s all about experimenting and playing with the countless options possible!

Herbal Iced Tea Template

7 to 8 cups spring water** (divided in 2 parts)

½ to 1 cup herbal plant material (as well as fresh flowers or dried flowers)

1 lime thinly sliced, or any citrus for that matter

1 to 2 cups of coconut water to replace some of the additional water in recipe.

Optional: ½ cup organic sugar or ¼ cup raw honey or 2 drops of stevia

Directions:

  • Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a large pot. Remove from heat.
  • Add the plant material and sweetener if using. Put a lid on the pot. Allow to steep 8-12 minutes.
  • If using a sweetener, stir 2 to 3 times while tea steeps to mix well.
  • Allow to cool slightly and then strain your infusion into a glass jar, jug, or pitcher.

Recipe Notes

**I normally gauge this amount and adjust if using ice cubes in the pitcher or if using some coconut water as a part of the ‘water’. Optional garnishes include sliced cucumbers, berries or other fruit, edible flowers, or complementary fresh herb leaves.
 To make it extra special, make ice cubes ahead of time with edible flowers, sprigs of fresh herbs or fruit!

Herbal Tea Comb ination Ideas

  • Spearmint, Peppermint, Sage
  • Hibiscus flowers (add some pomegranate juice)
  • Lemon Balm and Lavender
  • Bee Balm and Lemon Verbena

Cold Brew Tea

This method is actually the easiest. Simply combine the herbs and water and leave to steep in a glass jar in the fridge for 6-12 hours. 
If possible, 12 hours is preferable and yields a better result. When ready, strain out the plant material, pour into a glass pitcher and it’s ready to enjoy!

Whether using the ‘traditional’ method as described above in the template, or cold brewing the herbs, we can create herbal refreshments to enjoy all summer long. 

There is a growing fan base for the cold brew method, as the resulting brew is smooth, refined and delicious (free from bitter components because of the lack of heat applied).

I make it both ways. I love to play with the plants in my garden and experiment!

Variations on a theme:

Herbal Lemonade

What I thought was an unlikely combination, years ago, has become a ‘go-to’ every summer. It’s an iced tea/lemonade which incorporates both lavender and lemon balm and it’s a hit with everyone who tastes it!

Lemon Balm & Lavender Lemonade

⅛ cup dried lavender flowers

1 cup fresh lemon balm leaves, lightly packed

2 to 3 cups hot boiled water

¾ cup raw honey

3 to 4 lemons

Cold water

Directions:

  • Place lavender flowers in a large glass jar or pitcher.
 Top with just boiled water and allow to steep 5-8 minutes.
  • Add the fresh lemon balm leaves. 
Poke with a chopstick or wooden spoon until plant material is submerged.
 Allow to steep for 8-10 minutes.
  • Strain and discard the plant material into the compost or reserve to make again (use to make another light batch!)
  • Cut the lemons in half. Squeeze their juice (without the pits/seeds) into the lemon balm-lavender tea.
  • Add cold water and ice cubes to the lemony tea.
 Use a glass jar or pitcher to serve. Enjoy!

Want to learn more about herbal lemonades? Check out this article featuring 4 of my own faves. It’s here:  https://www.studiobotanica.com/herbal-lemonades/

We can all truly benefit by choosing natural options to create refreshing beverages with the plant allies from our green world. It’s a healthy new habit that we can incorporate into life and have a lot of fun at the same time.

AUTHOR BIO:  Carol Little, R.H. is a traditional herbalist in Toronto, where she has had a private practice for the last 20+ years. She loves to write about how we can embrace herbs in our daily lives. She is a current professional and past board member of the Ontario Herbalists Association. Visit: https://www.studiobotanica.com

Carol’s current project is a fun-filled “deep dive” into ONE herb each month ~ it’s called HerbGals and it’s a creative interactive way to learn about the many gifts and practical ways we can embrace the green world! Open to herb enthusiasts, herbalists, gardeners or those with culinary interests. It’s about sharing and learning from each other!  For more information, come for a visit here: https://studiobotanica.teachable.com/p/herbgals

References
Michael Vertolli R.H. @ https://www.livingearthschool.ca
Herb Resources:
Richter’s Herbs https://www.richters.com/

C

Carol Little R.H. is a traditional herbalist in Toronto where she works primarily with women. She writes an herb-infused blog filled with seasonal tidbits, helpful hints and ways to embrace herbs and healing foods to increase self-reliance + self-care. Come for a visit @ https;//www.studiobotanica.com Carol offers a seasonal newsletter with additional recipes and ideas for living a herbalicious life! She is a past board member and current professional member of the Ontario Herbalists Association . She writes a chapter each year in the “Herb of the Year” book for the International Herb Association. Check out her 3 popular ebooks, available at Studio Botanica and while there, learn more about her fun-filled monthly community herbal study group “HerbGals” Follow her on social media: Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/studiobotanica or Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/studiobotanica

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  • I found this to be a very worthwhile roundup of cool, healthy herbal tea recipes.

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