Homemade iced tea can easily (and deliciously) replace sugar filled store bought beverages, fulfill your cravings, and lend health benefits, too.
A spoonful of sugar makes just about anything go down—but do we want it to? Cravings for sweetness in our drinks—especially the chilled ones—are tough to escape. Our daily lives are filled with easy opportunities to buy bottled, pre-sweetened drinks (which, by the way, often contain many tablespoons of sugar). Sugar-filled store-bought beverages are a serious vice—but not one that can’t be conquered.
Homemade iced tea can easily (and deliciously) replace sugar filled store bought beverages, fulfill your cravings, and lend health benefits, too. Since sugar is addictive and disruptive to our endocrine system, spiking our hormones and blood sugar up and down, which in turn affects cravings and mood, it’s widely advised to limit it as part of a holistic, health-forward lifestyle.
All of this begs an essential question: Is it really that important to cut the sugar out of our drinks? Health experts agree that the processed substance needs to be extremely limited for optimal health; the U.S. Centers for Disease Control recommend that added sugars, in total, be limited to less than 10% of your daily calorie consumption.
But instead of completely eliminating our natural human cravings for sweetness here and there (especially on a hot summer days), what’s more realistic is to replace high-sugar options with homemade, freshly brewed iced teas that use gourmet, loose-leaf blends, like those from the list below. These all-organic varieties are unadulterated (and of course, sugar-free), but still pack a punch of naturally occurring flavors thanks to carefully selected ingredients that actually contribute to our health. Below, we’ve rounded up the top five teas we’d recommend to achieve that unsweetened sweet spot:
Starting off, Organic Refresh is Heavenly Tea Leaves’ naturally caffeine-free blend of herbs, fruit and other herbal ingredients that is true to its name: invigorating with every sip. The mixed fruit-forwardness of this tea is what draws us to it; organic orange peel and apple pieces in addition to sophisticated elderflower and an extra boost of orange flavor all lend a natural-tasting, satisfying sweetness. For balance, these ingredients are rounded out with herbs and plants like peppermint, sage and eucalyptus.
There’s no doubt that this zesty organic blend deserves a spot at the table when discussing our favorite sweet-leaning teas (without sugar, of course). Orange-forward and with a rooibos base that itself leans sweet, this blend is both tantalizing for the taste buds and totally refreshing on ice. Since it’s naturally caffeine-free, it can be consumed any time of day and works as a great palate cleanser, too, thanks to its citrus notes. And as a wellness bonus, rooibos is said to boost heart health—something that is a plus to us all.
3. White Peach
One of our personal favorites, Organic White Peach is the ideal sunny-day drink with a velvety mouthfeel that’s irresistible. Blending peachy and floral notes, this mild combination of wholesome green and white teas is best brewed cold, like the rest of this list. Since peach is such a distinctly summer flavor with a sweetness that’s pure and syrupy (as opposed to tart), this flavor profile makes for a great substitute for sugary teas and soft drinks that often rely on a similar type of sweetness to satisfy those cravings.
Heavenly Tea Leaves’ Organic Digestion blend—aptly named—is a powerhouse in the wellness department. Ingredients like dandelion root, ginger and fennel are among the digestion-promoting components of the blend, a closer look at the vast list of ingredients delivers some pleasant surprises. A punch of velvety-sweet flavor comes from hibiscus and rosehip seed, plus bright citrus from lemon and lime oils. On a deeper note, cinnamon lends earthiness and chamomile (see below!) lends a pleasant floral vibe that results in a smoothness to the overall flavor profile.
Perhaps the most famous of the nighttime teas, chamomile is known foremost for its calming properties (insomnia or anxiety, anyone?). But its unique, light-and- floral taste, both alone and layered among other herbal teas, is what sets it apart. The best part is how they tie together; a lot of the time, we crave sweet things after a big, savory meal. Chamomile acts as the perfect dessert tea, easily replacing high-calorie confections and snacks while doing double-duty as a sleep aid.Kicking the craving yet? It might not happen overnight, but it is possible to gradually wean yourself off of hyper-sweetened teas. As a start, switching to honey, maple syrup, monk fruit-based sweeteners or agave is a step in the right direction, away from table sugar, which is higher on the glycemic index and therefore trains the body to store fat long-term instead of burning it for fuel. Once that step is taken, the amount of sweetener can slowly decrease day by day until you’re totally free of it and able to appreciate the complex flavors of your favorite tea blend. The only trouble will be sticking to just one.