Iced Tea- How to Make, Benefits, & Side Effects

Iced tea is a popular form of regular tea that has been chilled or served with ice. Typically, iced tea is made with black, white or green tea, although some herbal teas are also served cold and referred to as iced tea. Different varieties of iced tea exist around the world, and often feature flavored syrups to improve the taste, including lemon, peach, cherry, orange and passionfruit varieties. There are some differences in the method of preparing iced tea versus regular tea, especially in the steeping time.

How to Make Iced Tea?

It is very easy to make iced tea, although there are many varieties, depending on how strong you want the tea and the flavor you desire. Below are two common recipes, one for simple iced tea and the other for “sun tea”. It is important to note that you should err on the side of the tea being “too strong”, as the ice will often dilute the tea with water, making it slightly weaker.

Iced Tea Recipe

Ingredients: 

  • 4 tea bags of basic black tea (green, white, oolong or herbal tea can also be used)
  • 6-8 cups of water (filtered), depending on how strong you want the tea to be
  • 4 slices of lemon

Step 1 – Bring the water to a boil in a stainless steel pot.

Step 2 – Lower the heat to a simmer and add the teabags.

Step 3 – Allow the tea to steep for 10-12 minutes.

Step 4 – Remove from heat and allow the tea to cool for 5-10 minutes.

Step 5 – Pour the tea over ice.

Step 6 – Add the lemon slices and allow the tea to chill for 3-5 minutes before serving.

Sun Tea Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 6 black tea bags
  • 6-8 cups of water, depending on how strong you want the tea
  • Large glass pitcher
  • 6 lemon slices, for sweetness, if desired

Step 1 – Fill the pitcher with water.

Step 2 – Add the tea bags and place the pitcher out in the sun.

Step 3 – Allow the tea to steep in the sun for 4-5 hours.

Step 4 – Remove tea bags and add lemon slices.

Step 5 – Serve the tea over ice and enjoy!

Iced Tea Ingredients

The ingredients of iced tea are very simple, consisting of only of black tea, water and natural sweeteners, such as lemon slices or honey. That being said, different types of tea can be used, including white, green and herbal teas for slightly different flavors. Furthermore, you can add other flavor items to change the sweetness, or include mint leaves, a cinnamon stick, or a teaspoon of simple syrup.

Benefits of Drinking Iced Tea

Iced tea provides all of the same benefits as regular black tea, due to its concentrations of caffeine, polyphenols, catechins, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Unsweetened iced tea, or those served with lemon or lime, tend to be the healthiest varieties, as they contain fewer calories and sugars, while also adding more antioxidants and nutrients to the beverage.

Weight Loss Efforts

Iced tea is low in calories and low in natural sugars (when unsweetened), which can help you in your weight loss efforts, particularly if you are used to drinking sweet sodas and other sugar-heavy beverages. Iced tea can also help you feel full and refreshed, without adding to your daily calorie count.

Chronic Disease

There are powerful compounds in black tea called flavonoids that have been directly linked to the prevention of cancer and other chronic diseases. Flavonoids act as antioxidants, meaning that they can seek out and neutralize free radicals that cause oxidative stress and tissue inflammation.

Immune System

The antioxidants and nutrients found in tea are known to stimulate the function of the immune system, making it easier for the body to defend against pathogens and infections. Some bottled forms of iced tea also fortify their mixtures with ascorbic acid (vitamin C), which can further increase the strength of the immune system.

Bone Health

With significant levels of manganese and fluoride in black iced tea, this summertime beverage can help you protect your bone mineral density and prevent the onset of osteoporosis. Fluoride is directly connected to preventing tooth decay and strengthening the enamel of teeth but it is also present in the rest of our bones and is integral to keeping our bones strong as we age.

Heart Disease

As mentioned above, flavonoids present in iced tea are excellent antioxidants, which can help prevent a number of chronic conditions, including cardiovascular disease, by reducing the tissue inflammation in the arteries and blood vessels of the heart.

Diabetes Concerns

If you are drinking unsweetened iced tea, the compounds found in black tea can actually help to regulate blood sugar levels, increasing the body’s insulin resistance and making life easier for those suffering from diabetes.

Nutrition Facts of Iced Tea

Standard iced black tea contains low levels of potassium, dietary fiber, manganese, sugar, caffeine, fluoride, flavonoids and various other antioxidants. Other types of iced tea, such as green tea or herbal teas, will have different nutritional profiles.

Side Effects of Iced Tea

Iced tea does come with a few potential side effects, including irritability, headaches, kidney stones and possible diabetic complications. Most of these side effects are caused by drinking too much iced tea or adding sugar to the beverage. Unsweetened iced tea is highly recommended if you want to enjoy all the health benefits, and avoid some of these side effects.

  • Caffeine – While caffeine provides an energetic boost and is one of the main reasons why people drink beverages like tea or coffee, it can have negative side effects when consumed at high levels, including caffeine withdrawal, trouble sleeping, irritability, stomach upset, headaches, acid reflux and inability to focus. Drinking a moderate amount of this tea should help you avoid most of these issues.
  • Kidney Concerns – Research in recent years has pointed to tea as a contributing factor to kidney stone development when drunk in large quantities. Tea contains compounds known as oxalates, which become oxalic acid in the body and can contribute to kidney stones and gallstones. If you have kidney stones of a history of that condition, consider speaking to your doctor before making this tea a regular part of your diet.
  • Diabetes – If you are drinking unsweetened iced tea, then you can actually help to regulate blood sugar levels, which is a good thing for diabetic patients. However, if you are adding sugar to every glass or pitcher of tea, you may be putting yourself at more risk of developing diabetes or exacerbating the symptoms, due to such a concentrated intake of sugar.

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