How do you beat the summer heat and high humidity where you live? A refreshing, delicious glass of iced tea is high on my list of go-to remedies for sweltering, summer days in Nebraska. I have almost completely eliminated soda, now, but sometimes plain water just doesn’t provide the satisfaction that I’m looking for when I want to quench my thirst and cool off. Iced tea is my go-to beverage and I drink A LOT of it. 🙂 I’m a straight up, “on the rocks” (lots and lots of ice) iced tea drinker and so is our eleven-year-old daughter. Not that I would ever “out” anyone, but there are a couple of males in our household that can’t consume any beverage unless it is loaded with sugar. Oy! But, no worries. If they’re going to do it, anyway, at least prepping it at home, I know exactly what’s going into it. That and the variety of flavors available to choose from, is what led me to this post and making a “tea station” with Bigelow Tea. Whether it’s just our family or we’re entertaining a crowd, the options for something delicious and refreshing will be right at our fingertips. You can definitely put something like this together for your own kitchen! It’s a quick and simple DIY Tea Station!
Bigelow Tea was an easy choice, even though their were dozens of brands surrounding them. I shopped at Walmart to pick up the tea and was amazed at the wide array of choices! We ended up picking out eleven different flavors, before we were through. Not only were Bigelow teas affordable and less expensive than some of the other brands, their wide variety of flavors, in herbal, black and green teas, exceeded any of their competitors offerings. The packaging is colorful and I love that the focus of their labeling is on the name of the product, not flashing their brand name. Looking down the aisle of teas, each of the Bigelow flavors jumped out at me individually, with it’s own unique packaging. It was easy to know what was in each one. With the other brands, it was not immediately apparent from the label, what was inside. One package looked much like the next, and the next, and the one next to that. Plus, we have always enjoyed Bigelow herbal teas and green teas, as warm drinks. Preferring brewed iced tea to instant, it was a natural assumption that I would love the Bigelow flavors on ice, as much as I did in a steaming mug.
I also had this idea swirling around in my head for some sort of display/station to keep all the different tea bags in, so I walked the housewares and kitchen gadget aisles, waiting for just the right thing to “pop” out at me. If you’re interested in seeing my entire shopping trip, you can check out my Google+ album, but suffice it to say, that it was finally an expandable, wooden silverware tray that caught my attention. Once I saw it, I knew it was going to be perfect for the job! With that and a brand new stainless steel tea kettle alongside the tea in my cart, it was time to head home and get started on my project!
By applying the stickers, one at a time, I could balance the design the way I wanted and the process was quick. Originally, I had used a marker to coordinate the foam letters to spell out TEA in the center of the tray. I decided not to use them after all, since they would stand up so far above the surface and likely become a nuisance, as well as hard to keep clean. I was really pleased with the simple finished design and I know it will work well in my kitchen, even after I finish the big makeover.
Once I had the tray decorated, I made a quick batch of simple syrup. I like my tea plain, but I have several sweet tea drinkers amongst my family and friends and the goal of my tea station is to be able to satisfy everyone’s favorite iced tea tastes. Simple syrup is only sugar and water. I make a concentrated syrup called Rich Simple Syrup. I like this option better than granulated sugar simply because it blends into the tea without leaving a clump of sugar slime in the bottom of the glass. It distributes evenly throughout the liquid its added to and gives a uniform sweetness to the drink.
Once the syrup is done, I pour it into small, half-pint (one cup) canning jars. Hot sugar syrup is sticky and it will take the skin right off of you, if you spill on yourself, so use caution when pouring and don’t let children do this job. I like to put it in the jars while it is still hot, though. While it would keep in the fridge, for several days, in any container, by allowing it to cool in the tightly closed jars, the hot syrup usually ends up sealing the canning jars as it cools and it lasts for a longer length of time. This recipe makes just a little over 2 cups of Rich Simple Syrup.
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup water
- Stir sugar and water together, in a small saucepan.
- Bring to a boil over medium high heat and allow to boil for 4 minutes.
- Pour syrup into clean, dry canning jars and screw lids on tight.
- Allow to cool and then store in the refrigerator.
- Add to iced tea and other beverages to add a rich sweetness to the flavors.
Once the syrup was complete, there was nothing left to do but set up an area for our tea station and start experimenting with tasty combinations! Yum! Bigelow Tea has so many different flavors to choose from. We only selected eleven and it will still take us weeks to try out all the potential recipes and combinations, but I’ll share a few tasty ones we discovered in our first foray into iced tea flavor designing!
Whenever you brew tea, the tea bags need some time to steep in the boiling water. As you pour the water over the bags, you will see an almost immediate change in the water’s color. Don’t be fooled into thinking that color equals flavor, though. As the tea is allowed to rest (steep) in the boiling water, the flavor will become richer and deeper and your patience will pay off with a perfect glass of brewed iced tea. The same premise works for a pitcher as for a single glass. Steeping a sort of “tea concentrate for 4-6 minutes and then pouring it over ice, will yield delicious results, each and every time!
- ½ cup Rich Simple Syrup
- 2 quart pitcher of ice
- 6 Bigelow Lemon Twist tea bags
- 4 Bigelow English Tea Time tea bags
- 2 cups boiling water
- juice of one lemon
- lemon slices for garnish (optional)
- Pour ½ cup Rich Simple Syrup into a wide-mouthed pint jar (or whatever container you choose to steep in).
- Put the tea bags into the jar and pour the boiling water over them, until the jar is full.
- Let the tea rest and steep for 4-6 minutes. (The longer it steeps, the stronger the flavor you will achieve, so this is a "too taste" decision.)
- When the tea is finished steeping, pour it over the ice in your 2 quart pitcher.
- Add the lemon juice and stir.
- A lot of the ice will melt as you pour the hot tea over it, creating a perfectly flavored tea. However, you may need to top off the pitcher with some cool water and stir to combine everything, if the pitcher isn't quite full. I added a little more ice and lemon slices to the pitcher before serving.
- Lemon is such a refreshing flavor, in the summertime. This recipe would make a great way to cool down after working in the yard or garden.
For a slightly sweet pick-me-up while you relax with a favorite book, on a warm afternoon, or to share when a girlfriend stops by to visit, Blueberry Pomegranate Iced Tea is a delicious treat.
- 1 Bigelow Pomegranate Black Tea bag
- 1 Bigelow Wild Blueberry with Acai Tea bag
- 1 cup boiling water
- 2 teaspoons Rich Simple Syrup (optional)
- 1 tall, tea glass filled with ice
- If you prefer sweet tea, add the simple syrup to your steeping jar. Otherwise, move to the next step.
- Put the tea bags into your steeping jar and pour boiling water over them.
- Allow to steep 4-6 minutes.
- Pour steeped tea over ice in glass and enjoy!
My very favorite tea recipe was a true experiment that went terribly right! It’s only slightly sweet and the peachy flavor is definitely enhanced by the addition of a surprise herb from my garden — sweet basil! Really! It’s so good and actually basil is an herb that is commonly used as a good complement to peaches in cooking and baking, so it made sense to try it with my tea. I could drink this tea every single day — at lunch, at dinnertime, to cool off after being outside — literally any time. It’s fantastic! (And if I’d had fresh peaches, on hand, a few slices would definitely have made it into my glass, with the basil. How gorgeous would that be?)
- 2 Bigelow Perfect Peach tea bags
- fresh sweet basil leaves
- 2 teaspoons Rich Simple Syrup
- 1 cup boiling water
- tea glass filled with ice
- Put simple syrup and 1 basil leaf in the bottom of steeping jar.
- Add tea bags to jar.
- Pour boiling water over tea bags.
- Allow tea to steep for at least 6 minutes.
- Pour over ice in iced tea glass and serve.
- Garnish with fresh basil leaves.
Whether you’re relaxing for a quiet moment, all alone, bustling around the house immersed in all your chores, sitting down to dinner with your family or having a backyard barbecue with the neighbors, Bigelow Tea will provide the perfect beverage solutions to satisfy everyone’s tastes. Whatever the event you’re planning, you can also get great tips by checking out this E-Guide full of great ideas for summer!