Once a summer-only beverage, iced tea has become a year-round refresher.
The $10 billion tea industry has slaked our thirst, but much of the bottled, ready-to-drink tea we consume daily is not as healthful as we've been led to believe.
For starters, most brands contain artificial ingredients, sweeteners, additives and unnatural colors. Bottled teas also may contain fewer of the beneficial chemicals that give tea its healthful reputation.
Researchers presenting a study at last month's meeting of the American Chemical Society (portal.acs.org/portal/acs/corg/content) reported the concentration of polyphenols, a healthful antioxidant, in six bottled teas tested was virtually nonexistent.
The average cup of home-brewed black or green tea contains 50 to 150 milligrams of polyphenols. The polyphenols in bottled teas occur in such low amounts that a consumer would have to drink 20 bottles to get the same amount found in a single cup of home-brewed tea.
Polyphenols are generally bitter and astringent, so to create a smoother flavor, many manufacturers add sweeteners or reduce the amount of tea.
Consumers who want more flavor without additives can turn to dried fruit/tea infusions. Tazo and Tetley have lines of home-brew tea with "infusion" in the name. These alternative tea infusions are tasty, but they're also pricey.
This recipe for berry-infused tea spritzer is a healthy, inexpensive way to enjoy a flavored tea drink made at home. As with sangria, the fruit macerates in water overnight to create a fruit infusion.
While we strained the fruit out of the drink, you may choose to leave the fruit in.
This refreshing drink is great for adults or children — and children will not taste the tea. You may want to prepare the drink with decaffeinated tea for children.
Portion control: Do you count your beverages? Nutrition experts estimate we drink 10 percent to 15 percent of our daily calories, but most of us forget to tally our liquid diet — juices, sodas, coffees and energy drinks — as it adds to our waistlines.
Berry-Infused Tea Spritzer
1/2cup strawberries, cut in half
4 cups water
2 cups prepared tea (regular or decaffeinated)
2 cups club soda
Whole strawberries, for garnish
Place halved strawberries and raspberries in a shallow bowl and smash slightly with tines of fork. Place fruit in a pitcher and add 4 cups water. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.
Strain berry-water mixture through a fine sieve, reserving berry-water in a pitcher. Discard berries. Stir in tea and club soda. Serve over ice and garnish with a fresh whole strawberry. Makes 4 (1 1/2 cup) servings.
Per serving: 14 calories (8 percent from fat), trace total fat (no saturated fat), no cholesterol, 3 g carbohydrates, trace protein, 29 mg sodium, 1 g dietary fiber.
The Wichita Eagle—09/28/10