I sometimes daydream about creating a recipe blog that is exclusively beverages. It seems like I come up with more thirst-quenching recipe ideas than anything else. Everything from thick, nourishing smoothies and dessert-like shakes to warm and cozy sips and cold, icy, refreshments… like today’s recipe, which is perfect for a hot summer day.
I’ve been loving rooibos tea for several years now, and I’m always looking for new ways to enjoy this mild-tasting and health-boosting tea. For awhile, I thought my favorite way to drink it was in a chai-esque latte, made with a creamy homemade cashew or almond milk. Lately I’ve been enjoying it plain as a calming evening beverage. One of the reasons I love rooibos, is because it’s so mild and un-bitter that you can have it unsweetened and it’s still delicious. The other reason I love it, is because, like green tea, it has numerous health benefits, in addition to being naturally caffeine free. Check out these impressive stats:
- Antioxidants and polyphelols a-plenty. You might be surprised to hear that rooibos tea beats out the antioxidant favorite, green tea. In fact, rooibos has nearly 50% more antioxidants than green tea. Antioxidants prevent disease and premature aging at the cellular level, fighting off free radicals that not only lead to the aged appearance of skin and hair, but also cardiovascular disease and certain cancers. It contains a unique polyphenol, aspalathin (known for its super-antioxidant powers) found exclusively in rooibos tea.
- It reduces stress hormones. According to Michael Greger, M.D. of nutritionfacts.org, research on rooibos tea has shown that in the presence of rooibos tea, adrenal gland cells produce 4 times less steroid hormones. This recent finding provides scientific support for years of anecdotal reports that rooibos tea has a calming effect.
- It effectively reduces inflammation in the body. Polyphenols in rooibos tea have anti-inflammatory, anti-mutagenic, and anti-viral properties. In fact, a recent study concluded that rooibos tea could help prevent widespread inflammation and damage at the DNA level, reducing the occurrence of a number of diseases.
- It can improve the health of your skin. Because of the high levels of anti-inflammation and antioxidant polyphenols, rooibos tea has been hailed by some as the perfect beauty tea for skin. Not only can you drink the tea for skin benefits, but many people have reported clearer skin and relief from eczema, itchiness, diaper rash, sunburn, wrinkles, and acne by applying it topically. It has also been studied for its ability to help prevent the growth of skin tumors and skin cancer. You can find rooibos in some commercially sold skincare products, or you can simply use cooled tea as a toner. This is always the most exciting kind of beauty food for me, one that can be used both from the inside out or outside in!
- It can help you have a good night’s sleep. Rooibos tea has been used by some to treat insomnia. It is completely caffeine free and will help you relax. It’s my go-to evening tea.
- It’s good for your tummy. Rooibos can help ease an upset stomach, thanks to effective anti-spasmodic agents, and can help stop vomiting and diarrhea. It has long been given to colicky infants in South Africa for generations and can safely ease stomach pain in children.
- It contains vitamins and minerals. Rooibos tea has small amounts of many minerals, including calcium, magnesium, iron, copper, and zinc. These nutrients help support bone health, and also contribute to healthy hair and skin.
- It doesn’t block iron absorption like black and green tea. Since it’s low in tannins, rooibos tea is a great choice for those interested in increasing their iron levels. Also, it contains zero oxalic acid, so those with kidney stones and other problems who are advised not to drink black or green tea can safely consume rooibos without worry of oxalate build up.
I decided to put rooibos to the test as a classic refreshing summer iced tea. To kick up the flavor a notch, I added fresh strawberries to flavor. I’m hooked on this iced tea! I found that the tea was so delicious on it’s own, that I didn’t need to add any sweeteners, a major plus. I used my favorite rooibos tea from Pure Matcha, also referred to as Red Matcha on their site because the rooibos leaves are finely milled into a powder (which is why it’s perfect in lattes). It’s a super high quality tea, and skipping the tea bag reduces waste, while the finely milled powdered tea makes for brighter flavored tea.
This recipe makes a quart of rooibos iced tea concentrate, that you can dilute as needed. I kept my concentrate in a large jar in the fridge, and when I wanted a glass of iced tea, I would fill my glass half full with ice and tea concentrate, and then filled it the rest of the way with cold filtered water. How much water and ice you add will depend on how strong you like your tea. It’s completely customizable. You can also make your concentrate stronger by adding even more tea bags or loose leaf tea to the recipe.
The next time you want a refreshing beverage that is also great for your health, hair, and skin, reach for this naturally caffeine free fruit flavored iced tea!
I hope you love this one as much as I do 😉
Strawberry Rooibos Iced Tea
- 1 quart sized jar or pitcher
- 4 – 6 tsp Powdered Rooibos Tea or loose leaf tea, or 4-6 rooibos tea bags
- 1 cup of fresh strawberries, washed, hulled, and quartered
- approximately 1 quart of boiling water
Boil 1 quart of water in a kettle. Add the tea and strawberries to a quart sized jar or glass pitcher. Carefully pour the hot water over them, stir when it’s about halfway full and then pour the rest of the boiling water in. Let cool on the counter until it is just warm, then cover and chill in the fridge overnight (I usually prepare this in the evening before bed). In the morning, give the jar a gentle shake and then strain out the strawberries. Store in the refrigerator.
To prepare a glass of iced tea, simply fill your glass about 1/3 -1/2 way with concentrate and then fill the rest with ice and filtered cold water. I also like to add a few sliced strawberries and mint (or even basil) leaves just to be fancy.
Notes and variations:
If you want a sweet tea, while preparing the concentrate, add some maple syrup to taste (maybe start with 2 tbsp) to the container before pouring in the hot water. I suggest trying it unsweetened first, it really is so delicious without it!
Try using other fruits like peaches or raspberries, or even blueberries. I think they’d all be delicious.
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