Sizzlin’ Summer time is upon us again, time to peel off the layers and suck down the sweet iced tea! Fancy fruity teas become popular this time of year, from fast food restaurants like Wendy’s to the ever-changing variety of iced teas at Starbucks. This summer, why not skip the mass produced sweet teas and make your own, starting with this delicious Blueberry-Pineapple Iced Green Tea!
Make it Natural
There are lots of quick ways to whip up a flavored sweet iced tea beverage in a flash. However, I want to take you on the more natural route. As a former Starbucks barista, I know it’s fast and easy to make iced tea drinks by using flavored syrups and packaged fruit purees. I can even attest to the high standards that Starbucks lives up to, using syrups made with pure cane sugar, and real fruit puree. But the syrups that you and I have access to may be filled with unhealthy ingredients such as high fructose syrup and lots of artificial flavors and preservatives.
So let’s go au natural! It’s better for you, you can tweak to your tea to your own tastes, and let’s face it, there’s nothing on a hot summer day like a cold drink made in your own kitchen sink!
The Greatness of Green Tea
What’s all the hype about green tea these days?
You may have heard people say how healthy green tea is, but not really know why that is.
Here’s the facts:
- Green tea contains mighty warrior antioxidants called catechins. These catechins are known to fight and possibly even prevent cell damage. Green tea is minimally processed; thus it is rich in catechins.
- To optimize your intake of these healthy antioxidants, don’t add boiling water to your green tea; it’s bad for catechins. 160-170 degrees is optimal.
- Next, add lemon. Besides the boost to your immune system, the extra vitamin C also makes the catechins easier to absorb. Win-win!!)
- One caveat: Research on green tea is still in its early stages, so you shouldn’t depend on it to prevent cancer. (Learn more at the Cancer Institute’s website, here.)
- Green tea is good for your heart. It has been scientifically proven to improve blood flow, lower cholesterol, and prevent heart-related issues such as high blood pressure and congestive heart failure.
- What’s good for your heart, is also good for your brain. In one Swiss study, MRIs revealed that people who drank green tea had greater activity in the working-memory area of their brains. Green tea has also been shown to help block the formation of plaques that are linked to Alzheimer’s disease.
- Green tea also contains theanine, which produces a relaxing effect on the consumer. It is easy to assume, then, that this may serve to balance out the effects of the caffeine in tea.
As if all those health benefits in green iced tea weren’t enough, enter the Super Berry, the Blueberry!!! Packed into its tight little blue skin, this berry is a powerhouse of nutrients which can benefit all our body systems:
- Vitamin C for strong immune systems, healthy skin and healing of wounds.
- Dietary fiber to prevent constipation and aid in weight loss, as blueberries promote a feeling of being full.
- Manganese, which helps the body process cholesterol, carbohydrates and protein.
- Antioxidants may help protect cells from various cancers.
- Flavanoids, a type of antioxidants, have been proven to help delay cognitive aging. Blueberries can also improve memory recall and reduce depression.
I love when blueberry season comes around every summer. There’s a blueberry farm in our area where we pick our own blueberries, and they’re SO GOOD, I could eat them by the handful, like candy!
This sweet, tropical fruit adds a delicious tang of interest to our iced green tea. And let’s hope it encourages you to eat it on its own, for it’s also a treasure trove of nutritional goodness!
- Vitamin C: Pineapple is loaded with it! In fact, one cup of pineapple contains more than 100% of your daily allowance of vitamin C! This immunity-boosting vitamin is also responsible for the growth and repair of body tissue. And did you know that it can also help you lose weight? Studies confirm that people who weren’t getting enough vitamin C burned 25% less calories during their workouts.
- Manganese: This mineral helps build collagen for healthy skin, and it also serves as an antioxidant to protect skin from UV light. Another good reason to enjoy pineapple in the summer time!
- Bromelain: Bromelain is an enzyme that helps break down proteins if consumed with a meal. This can help reduce bloatedness and indigestion. Bromelain, along with the dietary fiber in pineapple, can prevent constipation and keep you from feeling sluggish.
Blueberry Pineapple Iced Green Tea
Tips and Tricks
Fresh or Frozen Fruit: Either fresh or frozen fruit is fine for this recipe, though I prefer using frozen as it helps chill it down more quickly. Instead of purchasing frozen fruit, I like to freeze my own. We enjoy half of the fresh blueberries and pineapple, while I freeze the remaining fruit to use in tea and smoothies. Here are some tips for freezing:
- Freeze extra blueberries in small zip close bags.
- Cut up pineapple into chunks, freeze in muffin cups or ice cube trays to avoid sticking together, transfer to zip bags.
- Stir the tea in the pitcher before serving. The fruit tends to settle at the bottom.
- Add a slice of lemon just before serving. Adds a boost of vitamin C to help absorb the antioxidants of the green tea, helps your immune system, speeds up your metabolism, AND gives it that extra ZING!!
There are many great kitchen tools out there for making tea; I’ll share what I am currently using or have used in the past: (click on highlighted words below or Amazon ad above to purchase)
- Iced tea maker– I found one of these at a yard sale long ago, and used it for many years afterwards!
- tea kettle – I currently enjoy making tea the old-fashioned way, using a tea kettle that whistles when it boils!
- pyrex measuring cup – I use these daily for so many things!
- blender– Best to pay for the good blender, one that will last years of pummeling frozen fruit into delicious smoothies and teas!
stick blender– I bought this when my regular blender died on me, and haven’t felt a need to replace the old one. Once you get used to using the stick, you’ll love how versatile it is!
strainer – I used a tea strainer for this recipe, but a good strainer with a handle is best.
canning jars – Whether you have regular canning jars or the ones with pretty handles, there’s nothing like frosty drinks in a canning jar on a hot summer day!
lids and straws for drinking from jars – What a perfect invention! I love toting around these jars with the lid and straw on top. So fun for parties, too!
Final Tips for Tea Makers
I hope you’ve been inspired to try this delicious, nutritious Blueberry-Pineapple Iced Green Tea recipe. I hope you find it as refreshing as I do, to drink my iced teas with real fruit added, instead of sticky syrups or fillers from the fast food places. Knowing you made it yourself, you can be confident of its health-promoting abilities and feel good about stretching your creative muscle in concocting your own frosty beverages!
You may be wondering, as I have, what would happen if you experimented with other fruits, with other types of iced tea. Go ahead and tinker, my friend! I’ve also made this recipe with black tea, and also added pureed fresh peaches and blackberries to the mix, as well. So yummy to use up those baskets of fresh fruits from local farm stands!
Here are a few combinations to try:
- blueberries + pineapple
- peach + blueberries
- strawberries + pineapple
- strawberries + mango
- strawberries + peach
- blackberries + pineapple
- raspberries + lemon juice
Did I miss any? Have you tried adding fruit to your own tea, green or black? Let me know how they turned out in the comments below! Thanks for reading, and happy tea-sippin’ summer!!!