Yup, it's sweltering here in Temecula with unusual (for us! what is this, Miami?) thundershowers, humidity, and plain old heat, as we send our TVUSD kids back to school. (Don't be jealous, MVUSD; you get to go back next week.)
My kids are really feeling it, so I am breaking out a secret happiness weapon: homemade herbal iced tea.
This is very similar to the herbal iced tea served at Native Foods (two locations here in Riverside County, in Palm Springs and Palm Desert, plus multiple Los Angeles and Orange County locations. If you go, try the Chinese "chicken" salad. If it's not on the menu because they rotate items, ask them to put it back on for me!)
The Red Zinger tea is made with dried hibiscus flowers (also known as "jamaica" which is pronounced "ha-MAY-ee-ka" in Spanish.) Here in Temecula, look for Celestial Seasonings Red Zinger at Sprouts Natural Market, Henry's Marketplace, and Winco. In a pinch you could also buy Jamaica tea from a Latin American grocer.
It is different from the sugar-sweetened commercial "tropical teas" served at some restaurants. This is sweetened with 100% fruit juice. Which yes, does still contain sugar (I know, I know!), but because it is blended with naturally-sweet herbal teas, the sugar and calorie content is actually quite low.
A 48 oz pitcher of my homemade herbal tea contains a grand total of two cups of 100% apple or white grape juice, which comes out to only two ounces per six-ounce glass.
Serve it chilled and over ice. The herbal teas I use are completely caffeine free so this is a great drink for even the youngest kiddos.
Stay cool! Enjoy!
Homemade Herbal Iced Tea (makes 6 c)
Pour 2 c boiling water over 4 Celestial Seasonings Red Zinger and 4 Celestial Seasonings Lemon Zinger tea bags. (8 bags total.)
Set aside to steep 10 minutes. Remove tea bags and let cool.
Pour into serving pitcher and add 2 c filtered 100% apple juice OR 2 c white grape juice.
Stir well and chill. Serve over ice.