Summer is here, accompanied by sunshine, heat, and of course, iced tea.  The warm summer days almost always warrant a refreshing, cold beverage that quenches our thirst as well as satisfies our taste buds.  But watch out!  There are imitation iced teas lurking in the grocery store aisles that tempt us with their convenience and sweet taste.  Ready-to-Drink (RTD) iced teas have quickly become a sweet sell for companies who, on average, gross well over 70 million dollars a year on bottled beverages.  These teas – though some may be tasty – lack components that avid tea drinkers find necessary to enjoy a good glass of iced tea.

RTD iced teas are developed in labs, with food scientists and chemicals, and…high fructose corn syrup.  The iced tea that many people grew up with was natural sun tea or brewed iced tea, which were fortunately not heavily processed nor filled with preservatives to ensure an extended shelf life.  From the standpoint of someone who enjoys natural tastes and ingredients, home-brewed iced tea is a healthier and more fitting choice.  I do, however, enjoy a quick iced tea and have occasionally stopped at a store to pick one up.  It was not until recently that I checked nutrition labels and found high sugar levels, high sodium levels, and an ingredients list that made my eyes weary.

RTD iced teas are a wonderful idea because they are simple, delicious, and quick, but many of them are loaded with ingredients that alter the good nature of the tea itself.  The easiest way for a true iced tea lover to make iced tea convenient is to make it in advance; plan ahead for your iced tea desires.  The most common method of making iced tea is to brew hot tea and let the tea cool until it reaches room temperature.  Then serve it over ice.  This preparation means that the iced tea is readily available when you are running out the door to the beach, going on your morning commute, hurrying to work, or doing errands.  Some might argue that homemade iced tea is not as sweet or fruity as the brand-name iced teas are.  What’s the quick fix to satisfy your sweet tooth?  Add fruit, lemon, or a little sugar to the tea.  By making iced tea at home, you reduce the calories and unnecessary ingredients that may be harmful to those at risk for certain illnesses.

The alternative to a highly processed iced tea is a highly personalized homemade iced tea.  Try some soon!