The Perfect Glass of Iced Tea

A perfect glass of iced tea should be soothing, slightly sweet, chilled and with none of the bitter tannin taste of the tea leaves. We drink lots of tea the year around at our house and I have a pretty good recipe for making iced tea. Tea in general has some very interesting potential health benefits as I learned at the FNCE conference.

Iced Tea - 3 - IMG_0523

I keep a gallon jug of iced tea in the refrigerator and drink it year around. My tea is brewed; it is easy to make. The key to my recipe is the brand of tea. I’ve tried many, many brands of tea but have only been able to find one that results in a soothing tea without a bitter tannin taste. That’s the Luzianne brand of tea.

Tea Bags - IMG_0534

For a gallon of tea, I used four family sized tea bags — two decaffeinated and two regular bags. Place the tea bags in the bottom of a gallon jug. Heat about 4 cups water to almost boiling — but not boiling; pour over the tea bags and let steep for about 5 minutes; then remove the tea bags. Sometimes I’ll add a few sprigs of fresh mint from my garden. Add 1/4 cup of sugar while the tea is steeping; just enough to give a slightly sweet taste. Then add water and refrigerate.

Iced tea is best when chilled to as cold as possible. I add crushed ice when pouring it into glasses to serve. Add a lemon wedge if you wish.

Luzianne Tea

Luzianne is a Louisiana company, founded by William B. Reily in 1902. He owned a wholesale grocery business and moved from Monroe to New Orleans. In New Orleans, Reily began distributing coffee but soon realized that his tea was popular too. In 1932 the company began making a blend specifically for iced tea. Now Luzianne Iced Tea is the leading product under that brand for the Reily Food Company. The tea is found primarily in the South, but I’ve seen it in grocery stores in other parts of the country, too.

Health Benefits of Tea

Tea has some very interesting potential health benefits. I listened to a presentation by Lenore Arab, Ph.D. from UCLA, whose specialty is researching the health promoting benefits of various foods, including tea, at the FNCE conference a year ago.

Dr. Lenore has compiled several meta analysis of world-wide studies showing that people who drink 3 or more glasses of tea a day have lower risk of both heart disease and stroke. These studies didn’t differentiate between green tea or black tea. Pretty impressive evidence for drinking alot of tea-daily.

There are two sides to every story. Not everyone agrees and some think these claims are unfounded. For example, The European Food Safety Authority issued a paper stating that there is no proof that antioxidants in tea has health benefits and asked the food industry to stop making these claims.

Nevertheless, Dr. Lenore continues to research the mechanisms for the effects the flavonols of tea. Dr. Lenore agrees that tea’s health benefits are probably not an antioxidant effect but due to other factors. Here’s a quote from her presentation which gives her theory or best guess.

  • “There is strong evidence that tea flavonoids are associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, and emerging evidence points to a role for tea flavonoids in other chronic conditions, including obesity, diabetes and declining cognitive function. The biological activities of flavonoids include effects on cell-signaling pathways which could help prevent cardiovascular disease by:
     Decreasing inflammation
     Decreasing vascular cell adhesion molecule expression
     Increasing endothelial nitric oxide synthesis (eNOS) activity
     Decreasing platelet aggregation “

It’s a long way to get from a theory, or best guess, to the proof. Perhaps one day researchers will be able to show how tea actually effects functions in the body.  So it should be understood that currently these are theories.  But it is interesting research and certainly points to the benefits of drinking tea. Three glasses a day is a lot of tea; keep that fact in mind.

Teas

Tea is one of the most popular beverages world wide. Black tea is most commonly served in the U.S. and Europe while green tea is more common in the Orient. Iced tea is certainly a popular beverage in the South; no restaurant menu would be complete without iced tea where a very, very sweet tea is most often served

All tea is from the same plant, Camellia sinensis. The differences come with the way tea is harvested and processed. After harvesting, tea leaves begin to wilt; the leaves oxidize and darken; heat can stop this enzymatic process.

Black tea is fully oxidized tea; the leaves are wilted, bruised, crushed and rolled. Green tea is made from unwilted leaves that are not oxidized. Oolong made from partially oxidized leaves, an intermediate type of tea. White tea is made from young leaves or growth buds with minimal oxidation.

Dr. Lenore’s research did not differentiate between black tea or green tea. There are more health claims made regarding green tea; it has a higher flavonoid content. Both have more flavonoids than decaffeinated tea.

Recipe

Here’s my recipe for the perfect glass of iced tea. Enjoy!

Iced Tea

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

    • 2 family size decaffeinated Luzianne tea bags
    • 2 family size regular Luzianne tea bags
    • 1/4 cup sugar
    • 1-2 fresh mint sprigs, optional
    • lemon wedges, optional

Method and Instructions

Place the tea bags in the bottom of a gallon jug. Heat about 4 cups water to almost boiling — but not boiling; pour over the tea bags and let steep for about 5 minutes; then remove the tea bags. Add a few sprigs of fresh mint, if desired, while the tea is brewing. Add 1/4 cup of sugar while the tea is steeping; just enough to give a slightly sweet taste. Then add water and refrigerate.

Iced tea is best when chilled to as cold as possible. Add crushed ice when pouring it into glasses to serve. Add a lemon wedge if you wish.

Iced Tea - IMG_0513

References:

Luzianne    //www.luzianne.com/

Preesentation: “Moving Beyond Antioxidants: Making Phytochemicals a Prescription for Health” 2013 Food and Nutrition Conference & Expo October 21, 2013,
Lenore Arab, Ph.D., M.Sc.Professor, General Internal Medicine and Health Service Research & Department of Biological Chemistry David Geffen School of Medicine, UCLA

Tea and Cancer Prevention: Strengths and Limitations of the Evidence, National Cancer Institute cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/prevention/tea

To Your Health. Tehhku company. //www.tehku.com/index.php/to-your-health

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