Very Special Strawberry Iced Tea


Strawberry Iced Tea

Happy spring everyone and welcome to my inaugural post!

Briefly, I designed this site is to help tea enthusiasts (and tea enthusiasts to be) learn the skills of selecting, brewing and creating recipes with tea. Along the way I share life experiences and promote tea as the medium to a healthy life of inner peace and happiness. To learn more...

This picture sums up my life! Well, sort of.

Sweet southern iced tea with freshly juiced strawberries blended in for an extra special treat. Anyone who just put in a hard day of work in the garden would enjoy this immensely.

This recipe came to me after I was thinking about my mother. I was trying to remember all of the things she taught me in my childhood while comparing what positive impact I may or may not be having on my own children.

My mother passed away years ago and it reminds me that many of us have departed loved ones we miss with memories that fondly remind us of them. E.E. Cummings said it best with his poem:

“I Carry Your Heart With Me.”

i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)

Because it’s so true that even after our loved ones have passed, the love they gave us remains in our own hearts forever. If you are not familiar with the poem, I urge you to read the entire poem here.

It was written as a love poem, but I believe it emotes the theme of love within our hearts for anyone we have loved. We always carry that love in our hearts long after they are gone - whether it’s for a child, mother, sibling, spouse or best friend.

For me, the best way to fill the void of missing a loved one, is to carry out the very things they loved in their lives, within our own lives.

As a very young girl, my family rented a home on a produce farm in Marlboro, New Jersey. The farm is gone now by way of housing developments, as have many New Jersey farms.

Even though we were not farmers, we were allowed to go into the fields to pick produce. One of my favorite memories are the strawberry fields. They were hot and dusty and sunny, but full of aromatic juicy strawberries just waiting to be picked. The scent of freshly picked strawberries lingers with me to this day.

It’s rare to find these same strawberries today. They were small, juicy and very flavorful. The strawberries in modern supermarkets are huge and often flavorless. It saddens me.

But during the summer months when strawberries are in season, I can find “real” strawberries from organic farms that are reminiscent of the strawberries from my childhood.

My mother used to make strawberry jams and preserves from our pickings, packing the preserves in mason jars with a paraffin wax seal. You may remember these.

My mother was also always making iced tea, the southern sweet kind. She got the recipe from her neighbor and friend Melba. Melba came from Mississippi and had a very thick southern accent. Mississippi is home to southern sweet tea and believe me, she knew how to make iced tea!

It was my mothers love of all things tea, hot or cold, that got me hooked on tea from childhood. So in honor of my mother, I have created a strawberry iced tea recipe that was never one of her creations, but melds childhood memories of iced tea and strawberries into a delicious and refreshing beverage.  Go ahead and create some fond memories of your own.

Here are the ingredients you will need:

  • Fresh strawberries
  • Fresh lemons
  • Loose leaf black tea  (I like to use my Nilgiri black tea blend)
  • Pure cane sugar
  • Filtered water

My Secret No. 1: As always, you can substitute if you don’t have fresh ingredients, but using the freshest organic ingredients possible will result in something a little extra special.

My Secret No. 2: The riper the strawberries, the sweeter and more delicious they are in this recipe!

As with every recipe, I include the nutritional breakdown for you but I also like to expand on that a little bit more to explain exactly what these nutrients mean for your body. I have to do it - it's the nurse in me.

Medicinal Goodness: (based on whole fresh organic ingredients)

Strawberries: They are an excellent source of vitamin C and manganese, and also contain decent amounts of folate (B9) and potassium.

Strawberries are very rich in antioxidants and plant compounds, and may have benefits for heart health and blood sugar control.

Lemons: Another excellent source of vitamin C, soluble fibers and plant compounds, all of which can provide health benefits.

Lemons may reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer, help protect against anemia and prevent the formation of kidney stones.

Unlike animals, humans do not produce their own vitamin C.  We need to take in a sufficient amount of vitamin C to keep our immune system running properly. The stress of illness requires an even higher amount of vitamin C intake to boost our immune system.

Black Tea: Tea is high in polyphenols, a potent antioxidant. Antioxidants have proven health benefits to cardiovascular health.

Black tea contains an amino acid called l-theanine, which is unique to tea and has some very interesting effects on the brain. L-theanine increases alpha brain waves inducing a calm and deeply relaxed state. Combined with the caffeine, which is about half the amount found in coffee, the overall effect is a focused calm.

Pure Cane Sugar: What can I say here. It’s refined but at least it’s not genetically modified like high fructose corn syrup. And it tastes soooo good!

Refining sugar strips all of the nutrients so you are left with a simple carbohydrate. If you want to get some nutrient value from your sugar aside from carbohydrates (yes a carbohydrate is an essential nutrient), substitute with honey or raw sugar that doesn’t have its nutrients stripped.

My Secret No. 3: A nut milk bag works very well as a strainer for the strawberry juice. It strains all the little seeds out and it’s easy to squeeze the strawberry juice through it.

My Secret No. 4: When using partial or full leaf tea, allow tea leaves to steep freely in the water or in a very large strainer. Do not stuff the leaves into a tea ball or the like. The leaves need to open up to infuse their full flavor and release their nutrients.

Strawberry Iced Tea
Recipe Type: Drinks
Cuisine: American
Author: Life Is Better With Tea
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 6 - 8
An insanely delicious strawberry iced tea that can be made and ready to serve in 20 minutes.
  • 1 pound strawberries
  • 6 cups water
  • 8 (heaping) tsp. black loose tea (17.5 grams)
  • ¾ cups pure cane sugar
  • ¼ cup lemon juice (approximately 2 lemons)
  1. Clean and hull strawberries.
  2. Put all the strawberries in a blender. Add 1 cup of water. Blend together until liquid smooth.
  3. Bring the remaining 5 cups of water to a boil. Remove from heat.
  4. Add tea leaves and steep for 10 minutes. 
  5. Remove tea leaves.
  6. Add the sugar to the tea while it’s still hot to dissolve.
  7. Strain strawberry juice and add. 
  8. Add the lemon juice.
  9. Stir all together.
  10. Serve over ice and enjoy!
Strawberry Iced Tea Nutrition Label
Strawberry Iced Tea Nutrition Label








Posted in

MaryAnna's Tea - Jersey Shore Spring 2015


Posted from page 11 with publishers permission  http://www.ifoldsflip.com/i/475834-spring-2015

By —Jill M. Ocone

Simple. Delicious. Refreshing. Real Ingredients. With so many foods and drinks containing artificial and potentially dangerous sweeteners, GMOs, and preservatives, Point Pleasant resident Mary Ann Rollano decided to do something about it. She began microbrewing natural tea leaves in 2007, and after refining and perfecting her process and recipe, she began bottling the tea as a ready-todrink product. Thus, MaryAnna’s Tea was born.

MaryAnna’s Tea ingredients are 100% natural and use real tea leaves, real lemon or other juices, and natural sweeteners such as pure cane sugar or honey. That’s it. The tea is brewed in small batches using a direct brew method to keep the fresh, homemade taste. And not only is the tea good for health, the tea leaves are composted after brewing, which is environmentally friendly.

Rollano explained that the difference between her product and other bottled teas is that she uses real tea leaves and nothing artificial or imitation, ever. Her tea leaves originate from a graded tea importer in India. The custom blend is grown high in the mountains. “It lends itself to flavoring very nicely,” she said. Rollano’s motivation and perseverance since taking the brewing plunge in 2007 turned her idea into a real entrepreneurial success. A multiyear award winner, MaryAnna’s Tea was awarded champion status in the 2012, 2013, and 2014 Ready-ToDrink Iced Tea Class of the North American Tea Championship.

Jersey Shore fans might recognize the image used on MaryAnna’s Tea labels. Local photographer and author David Turton took the original photo of Rollano’s husband’s ’32 Woody in Manasquan, with the vintage surfboards borrowed from Eric Byer of Beach House Classic Boardshop in Bay Head. The two young girls on the label are Rollano’s daughters. A graphic artist turned Turton’s photograph into a painting and adapted it for use as the official logo.

MaryAnna’s Teas are available in four flavors: Summer Sweet, Tea & Lemonade, Berry Sweet, and Peachy Sweet. Rollano also offers loose tea leaves, gift sets, and tea brewing items for sale on her website at www.maryannastea.com.

Rollano is humbled yet pleased with her product’s local cult following and national recognitions. “It is real tea, made with real food. You can’t find anything better than that,” she said.

Posted in Iced Tea, MaryAnna's Tea, Spring, Sweet Iced Tea, Sweet Tea, Tea

Thank You with Tea Loads of Gratitude


Tea with family and friends

Gratitude is one of those energies that opens up your heart and allows for greater flow of whatever you are creating. Because of you, I am able to create teas that not only I love, but you love too! 

I thank all of you for your support over the past year. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate your ideas and positive feedback on our iced teas. I am so grateful for your help in building our small artisan tea company.

I am a firm believer in karma so I want to take a moment to remind everyone that this Saturday is ‘Small Business Saturday’, which is an effort to encourage people to purchase from small retailers and independently owned businesses over mass manufactured products and mega stores.  

I encourage you to keep your holiday shopping ‘small’ as much as possible and support other entrepreneurs and small businesses. Make a commitment to shop small at some point during your holiday gift buying. It may not seem like much to you, but I promise you it seems like a lot to the small business entrepreneur.

I hope you have a safe and happy holiday with friends and family.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

Big tea hugs!

Mary Ann

Posted in Gratitude, tea, Thanksgiving

How to Naturally Decaffeinate Tea


Tea usually refers to a single species of plant, camellia sinensis, native to Southeast Asia and all tea from this plant contains caffeine. Green, black, oolong and white tea all come from camellia sinensis. Most herbal teas come from a variety of different plants and do not contain caffeine, however, there are exceptions such as yerba mate or guayusa. The amount of caffeine varies depending on the amount of time and temperature the tea leaf is infused, as well as the type of tea. In general, black tea contains the most caffeine.

A cup of normal black tea contains 40–50 mg of caffeine, roughly half the content of a cup of coffee. Sometimes even that amount may be too much for those sensitive to caffeine. The caffeine in tea has a different effect than caffeine in coffee, as it doesn't produce a jolt or let down. This is due to the combination of caffeine and L-theanine uniquely found in the camellia sinensis plant. 

L-theanine, an amino acid, is only found in tea and some mushrooms. It relaxes the mind without inducing drowsiness, hence the calming effect often attributed to tea. This combination of caffeine and l- theanine is how tea improves mental focus.

The problem is not all of your favorite specialty teas come in a decaffeinated version. The only choice readily available for decaffeinated tea is a bland, stale version of a low grade commercial black or green tea.

There is a method to reduce the caffeine in tea at home using the quick rinse method. This is safe and avoids the use of chemicals to remove caffeine. Commercially available decaffeinated tea removes the caffeine using either liquid carbon dioxide or repeatedly rinsing with methylene chloride or ethyl acetate. That just doesn't sound appealing to me so I prefer the natural process of removing caffeine using water.

Simply discard the tea from the first brew after a three-minute infusion. This removes 46 to 70 percent of the caffeine from a cup of black tea. It is important to note the discarded first brew must be made at the recommended brewing temperature for that specific tea. Black tea brews at 212 degrees Fahrenheit.

Now you can re-use your washed tea leaves for a lower caffeinated brew, although it will not technically be decaffeinated. True decaffeinated tea has 97 percent of the caffeine removed, or 4 mg of caffeine per serving.

Using the quick rinse method will yield an average of 18 mg of caffeine per serving. This is usually enough of a reduction for those wishing to moderate their caffeine intake. You can steep most loose leaf teas a second or even third time. If you use a high quality specialty loose leaf tea, you will not loose flavor in subsequent brews.

This information is based on the Asbury College Study on Tea Caffeine.

Until next time - drink tea and carry on dear tea friends!

Posted in caffeine, decaffeinate tea, health, l-theanine, specialty tea, tea

Real Tea For A Summer Day


Article from Edible Jersey Magazine Summer 2014



Photograph courtesy of MaryAnna’s Tea

A lifelong tea lover, Mary Ann Rollano always had a fresh pitcher of iced tea in her fridge, but it took a layoff from her job as a registered nurse for her to turn it into a business.

“I drink iced tea all the time and could never find a good bottled one,” she says. “I often thought, ‘I make a better-tasting tea than this!’” As a challenge to herself, Rollano began working with the Rutgers Food Innovation Center five years ago to try to bring her tea to the masses. Rollano was committed to producing an all-natural product, using real tea leaves, lightly sweetened with lemon juice and pure cane sugar. She soon discovered that many bottlers refused to brew tea leaves (which result in a waste product) and most wanted to substitute lemon juice concentrates for real lemon juice.

It took some time, but Rollano finally found the right fit (the bottler donates the discarded tea leaves to a pig farmer), and the hard work has paid off. Her bottled iced tea was awarded first place in the 2012 North American Tea Championship for best flavored black tea. Rollano, who interacts with her customers at tastings in various food stores across the state, says, “Many are surprised to learn what real brewed iced tea tastes like.”

Rollano also pays homage to her Jersey Shore home; her labels showcase a perfect summer day at the beach, complete with surfer girls and an old-fashioned woody wagon. MaryAnna’s, though named for its creator, is a family affair. Those girls on the label just so happen to be her daughters, and her husband makes the deliveries— in that woody.

MaryAnna’s teas are sold directly through the company’s website and in specialty stores and markets throughout New Jersey.

—Nancy DePalma

MaryAnna’s Tea
Point Pleasant

Posted in Edible Jersey, health, iced tea, North American Tea Championship, summer, tea

Apple Banana Tea Smoothie



I have been making a lot of fruit smoothies lately. I make mine dairy free but add protein in a variety of other ways. Here is one I created yesterday that got rave reviews from my smoothie drinking daughters. If you are a smoothie lover, I hope you enjoy it as well.

Smoothies are great because they have everything - fruit, antioxidants and protein all in a quick refreshing beverage that is filling and nutritious!


  • ½ bottle (8 oz.) MaryAnna’s® Summer Sweet Tea™, chilled
  • 1 apple, peeled and sliced
  • 2 medium bananas
  • 1 Tbsp. peanut butter
  • ¼ tsp. vanilla
  • cinnamon

 Total Time -  5 min

 Servings -  2



  1. Process all ingredients in blender until smooth. Pour in tall glass with straw. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Serve and enjoy your delicious smoothie!

Posted in antioxidents, dairy free, tea smoothie

Why Drink Summer Sweet Tea?

| 1 comment

The gloriously warm days of summer are just around the corner, I can feel it. And along with it comes the best drink of the season, sweet iced tea. Good home brewed sweet tea is seemingly simple to make but mastering the art takes a little time. Learning from my mother, I have been brewing sweet tea almost every day for 30 years. My goal is to bring that same wonderful iced tea to you.

I take great care in brewing my tea with only premium ingredients and no artificial flavorings. The best way to make great tasting tea is by the infusion method, allowing the tea leaves to unfurl in the hot water releasing all of its wonderful flavors. I use a custom blend of high quality black tea leaves, flavor with pure cane sugar and add 100% lemon juice for a bit of pure flavor.

Tea is a natural source of antioxidants and growing evidence suggests antioxidants have many positive health benefits. Since our tea is directly brewed just before bottling, it maintains the same level of antioxidants found in a freshly brewed cup of tea.

But what about all those calories from sugar you ask? The sugar I use is pure cane so it is not genetically modified, like high fructose corn syrup. Again, I do not use anything that is artificial in my iced teas.

Remember, sugar is not the devil; you can savor the joy of sweetness if you remember to take everything in moderation. The human body runs on glucose.

One teaspoon of granulated white sugar is equal to about 4.2 grams. My Summer Sweet Tea contains about 2 teaspoons per serving. A gram of sugar contains 4 calories. One serving of my iced tea is about 38 calories.

Here is a little chart you might find interesting.

Calories burned per mile by walking



100 lb

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                      Med Sci Sports Exerc 2000;32 (Suppl):S498-S516.


So fill a nice tall glass bursting with ice and indulge in a simple, healthful pleasure. 

It just tastes good!

P.S.  A glass of wine is about 100 calories.


Posted in antioxidants, calories, high fructose corn syrup, iced tea, sugar, summer, sweet tea, tea, wine