Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Simple Secret of Iced Tea

So apparently based on the response to a simple Facebook status update about sipping my Caramel Pear Rooibos home made iced tea, everyone wants to know how to make home made iced tea... and it's actually very easy.

Basically all you have to do is:
  1. brew your favourite tea,
  2. add your choice of sweetener to your taste (while the tea is still hot so that it dissolves easily),
  3. then cool and refrigerate until it's ready to drink!
Et voila! it really is that simple!

The secret to the fancy schmancy exotic flavours (caramel pear) wasn't anything I personally home brewed or added to my tea... I just bought the already fancy flavoured tea, which you can get at any tea shop (or just use whatever tea bags you have at home).

The caramel pear rooibos is from David's Tea, which Anita introduced me to in Ottawa. Luckily they have a location in Vancouver and they sell online as well. I highly recommend it! I walked out of there with three kinds of tea including Read My Lips (chocolate mint black tea), and one of their divine summer Luscious Watermelon fruit teas. All of them iced really well. Just going in to smell all the different teas is a treat in itself!

They have a collection of iced tea recipes, including alcoholic ones, like Spiked Strawberry or La La Long Island Iced Tea (oh that brings me back to the days of my frosh year)! The Watermelon Pops look delish too!

When I first read about how to make iced tea (can't remember where, but it was in a couple of places, from a display in a tea shop to a website), the directions were to doubly steep the tea (twice the amount of tea leaves), then add ice to cool it down.

Umm, is it just me, or does that seem like a waste of good extra tea leaves, only to be watered down? I suppose I'd try the iced method if I was in a pinch, but so far it's been easy enough to brew a jar and refrigerate it so it's ready to enjoy whenever I am thirsty or a guest shows up for an impromptu visit! Or, it's excellent in a blended fruit drink too!

Bonus Tea Tip: Rooibos tea is apparently rich in minerals, making it an excellent sports drink, helping to replenish your body after a workout. It sure tastes better than Gatorade in my books!

Summer Sippin' in the Sunshine

The perfectionist in me is also a huge procrastinator, so I've been waiting for "enough time" to post my last few rounds of recipes...Apparently I just need some accountability, which usually at work takes the form of deadlines. But for fun stuff, apparently all I need is to post it on my Facebook and get people asking for it!

So here goes... all are themed for some summer lovin'. And, as per usual the Justine-key-criteria, all are super duper easy, ready to be served in a pinch with spontaneous visitors, provided you have the ingredients on hand! :)

Hot Chocolate from Thomas Haas: Okay so this one is not really a summer drink, and it's not homemade so I don't have the recipe, but it does go with the theme of drinks. I can't help but plug how amaaazing the hot chocolate was. And what an inspiring place to have a creative work meeting... Leah and I felt like we had a little vacation during the time we were there.

  • 1 can of peaches
  • 1 can of lychees
Directions: Blend both cans of fruit including all the juices. Pour and enjoy.

Notes: Lychees are extremely versatile and go well with other fruits. Lychee blueberry is another one of my favourite combos, which makes an excellent pie.

There are multiple routes to achieve the frosty refreshing cold effect:
  • Add some ice before blending. (This option dilutes the flavour a bit with the added water. The below two options preserve the concentration of the fruit.)
  • Refrigerate the cans of fruit before blending.
  • Freeze the fruit (or purchase already frozen fruit) without the juices. Then blend the frozen fruit pieces with the liquid unfrozen juices.
  • 1 cup of frozen blueberries
  • 1 cup of iced tea
  • sweetener, to taste
Directions: Blend and enjoy.

Notes: You can experiment with different kinds of frozen fruit. And the possibilities are endless for the kinds of tea you could use... rooibos, green tea, black tea, fruit tea, oh my! Home made iced tea is the best in my opinion though.

  • 3 tbsp of Caffe d'Amore Vanilla Smoothie Mix
  • 1 cup of ice
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 1/4 cup of Skor bits
Directions: Blend and enjoy.

  • Try this also with Oreo cookies... yum-a-lum! Or I suppose any crunchy candy like Smarties or Reese Pieces would be a good bet too!
  • You can buy the amazing Caffe d'Amore mix at Superstore which works magic in turning any liquid drink into a happenin' shake or smoothie. They also have a coffee frappe version if that's more your fancy.
  • You can substitute cow's milk with almond or soy milk, though the drink mix powder does have dairy in it.


Ingredients: 1 watermelon
  1. Cut the watermelon into cubes about the size of an ice cube tray (2 inch cubes).
  2. Refrigerate half of the cubes.
  3. Put the remaining half of the cubes on a flat sheet separated slightly and place in the freezer, so that the cubes do not freeze in one giant mass which makes for easier blending.
  4. Once the cubes are frozen, place equal parts of frozen and refrigerated cubes and blend until smooth.
The trick with this (or any other icy fruit blended drink) is not to add too much (if any) additional liquid/water, as it can dilute the flavour of the already subtle watermelon. The melon has enough liquid in it already, so you only need to take advantage of its natural juice by freezing it.