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:
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.
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.