How to Make Zero Waste Iced Tea (+ 3 Healthy Recipes)

Friday, June 9, 2017

By: Ariana Palmieri
In honor of National Iced Tea Day, which is Saturday, June 10th, I decided to share with you an easy, completely zero waste way to make iced tea (3 ways in fact). I am a tea fanatic, so when I learned about this holiday I got really excited and wanted to give it a zero waste spin that would make all you tea lovers grin from ear to ear. It actually pretty darn simple to do at home and doesn't require too many expensive materials or tools, which is great. I really hope you enjoy it, and if you do, be sure to tell me what your favorite iced teas are in the comment section below!

zero waste iced tea
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How to Make Zero Waste Iced Tea
The Basics
So, I'd like to first start out saying, you really don't need much to make zero waste iced tea. It's quite similar to making regular tea. The only difference is that you are limiting the amount of waste and plastic you create with every sip. Here are the basic tools (and tips) you will need to make any of the recipes listed below:
  • A teapot of any sort (if you don't have one, a big pot to boil water in will do)
  • A tea diffuser (if using loose tea at any point)
  • Compostable tea bags (some of the recipes below call for loose tea or tea bags - if you choose to use tea bags, make sure they are compostable. Some tea bags are made from plastic, so you have to do your research. It usually tells you on the box if it is compostable or not. For example, two tea brands that do make compostable tea bags are Yogi Tea and Traditional Medicinal. When all else fails, just get some loose leaf tea from bulk stores or places like Mountain Rose Herbs). 
  • A glass, ceramic or stainless steel pitcher of some sort
  • Glass, ceramic, or stainless steel serving cups (mason jars work well!)
  • Compost (whatever form of compost you use at home - make sure you add any tea bags, loose leaves, or fruits you use via the recipes below to it! I recently started at-home composting this week and keep my food scraps in a container. I plan to deliver them to the farmers market this Saturday, since I live in an apartment and don't have any room to make a huge compost pile of my own. Maybe I'll write a blog post about it soon...)
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Mint Peach Iced Tea
Now comes the really fun part: Making the recipes! Once you've got all your tools assembled, making this will be a breeze. This tea is absolutely delicious and perfect for a warm spring/summer day. Great to take on a picnic too!
Ingredients:
  • 8 cups of water
  • 5 ripe peaches (preferably organic - wash before use!)
  • 1 bunch of fresh mint
  • Natural sweetener (optional - this could be organic sugar, honey, agave, etc.)
  • 5 white tea bags (or 1/2 cup of loose leaf white tea)
Directions:
  1. First, add 8 cups of water to your tea pot, or a big stove pot. Set it on high until it boils. As soon as it starts to boil, add the 5 white tea bags, or loose leaf white tea. If you're adding loose leaf white tea, use a diffuser of some sort (you may need several individual diffusers or perhaps you have a teapot that comes with a built-in diffuser. Whatever the case, it'll make your life easier). Let it steep for about 5 to 10 minutes, depending on how strong you like your tea, then remove bags or diffusers. Be sure to add them to your compost!
  2. Now, let the tea cool down. While it sits in the pot, prepare the peaches. Cut them in half, take out the pit, and then dice up the peach. You don't have to waste the pit either - here are a few creative ways to reuse the pits (you can also add them to your compost pile too). Do this for all 5 of the peaches. Add them to the glass pitcher, along with the fresh mint leaves. I'm in the process of growing my own mint leaves (they're still babies), but you can find fresh mint at almost any grocery store.
  3. After the peaches and mint have been added to the pitcher, pour in the white tea you made in your teapot (or pot stove). You can also add as much of the natural sweetener of your choice as you want at this point. To keep things healthy, try limiting the amount you add - trust me when I say the peaches will sweeten the tea naturally. I usually don't add any natural sweeteners to my tea, but it's totally up to you.
  4. You're definitely to want to let it sit for a while, so the tea can infuse with the peach and mint flavors. Let it sit for at least 10 minutes. You can place it in the fridge and let it sit that way (so it cools down even faster), or pour some into a cup filled with ice at the end of the 10 minutes. Feel free to add some ice to the actual pitcher too. I personally recommend letting it sit in the fridge for a good 30 minutes to an hour before you try drinking it, so it gets really nice and cool. Serve in a mason jar (or plastic-free cup of your choice), and enjoy!
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Lemon Iced Tea
A true classic, this tea is something anyone will love. Well, anyone expect one of my friends who absolutely hates lemons (she only drinks water anyway). Regardless, it is the ultimate summery drink, without being lemonade (because yes, there is a difference).
Ingredients:
  • 8 cups of water
  • 5 lemons (preferably organic - wash before use!)
  • 5 green, white, or black tea bags ( depends on preference. I recommend green tea for this one. You can also choose to use 1/2 cup of loose leaf tea of any sort)
  • Natural sweetener (optional - this could be organic sugar, honey, agave, etc.)
Directions:
  1. First, add 8 cups of water to your tea pot, or a big stove pot. Set it on high until it boils. As soon as it starts to boil, add the 5 white, green, or black tea bags, or loose leaf tea of your choice. If you're adding loose leaf (of any kind) tea, use a diffuser of some sort (you may need several individual diffusers or perhaps you have a teapot that comes with a built-in diffuser. Whatever the case, it'll make your life easier). Let it steep for about 5 to 10 minutes, depending on how strong you like your tea, then remove bags or diffusers. Be sure to add them to your compost!
  2. Now, let the tea cool down. While it sits in the pot, prepare the lemons. Cut the lemons into slices and place the seeds on the side. You can either replant them or add them to your compost pile. Do this for all 5 of the lemons. Add them to the glass pitcher.
  3. After the lemons have been added to the pitcher, pour in the white, green, or black tea you made in your teapot (or pot stove). You can also add as much of the natural sweetener of your choice as you want at this point. To keep things healthy, try limiting the amount you add. 3 tablespoons of honey, agave, or organic sugar is usually more than enough for me. Make sure to mix it in if you do add it!
  4. You're definitely to want to let it sit for a while, so the tea can infuse with the lemon flavor. Let it sit for at least 10 minutes, or longer for more potent results. You can place it in the fridge and let it sit that way (so it cools down even faster), or pour some into a cup filled with ice at the end of the 10 minutes. Feel free to add some ice to the actual pitcher too. I personally recommend letting the pitcher sit in the fridge for a good 30 minutes to an hour before you try drinking it, so it gets really nice and cool. Serve in a mason jar (or plastic-free cup of your choice), and enjoy!
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 Rose Oolong Iced Tea
Now this is an interesting mix. Certainly not a 'traditional' iced tea, but I figured it would be fun to spice things up just a little bit. I had this once in a tea shop in the city and it absolutely blew me away. It's so refreshing!  
Ingredients:
  • 8 cups of water
  • 1 cup of  dried rose buds or petals (best with rose buds)  
  • 5 oolong tea bags (You can also choose to use 1/2 cup of loose leaf oolong tea)
  • Natural sweetener (optional - this could be organic sugar, honey, agave, etc.)
Directions:
  1. First, add 8 cups of water to your tea pot, or a big stove pot. Set it on high until it boils. As soon as it starts to boil, add the 5 oolong tea bags, or loose leaf oolong tea. Also add the dried rose buds (I always get mine from Mountain Rose Herbs, because I know they're safe for tea). If you're using loose leaf oolong tea, you can mix it with the rose buds and add it to a diffuser. If not, add the oolong tea bags, then place the rose buds into a diffuser. You may need several individual diffusers or perhaps you have a teapot that comes with a built-in diffuser. Let it steep for about 10 minutes, depending on how strong you like your tea, then remove bags or diffusers. Be sure to add them to your compost (both the oolong and the rose buds)! If you would like, you can leave a few rosebuds in the actual brewed tea for look.
  2. Now, pour the tea you made in your teapot (or pot stove) into your pitcher. Add some ice cubes and as much of the natural sweetener of your choice as you want. To keep things healthy, try limiting the amount you add. 3 tablespoons of honey, agave, or organic sugar is usually more than enough for me. Make sure to mix it in if you do add any sweeteners!
  3. Let it sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to an hour so it gets nice and cold. If you're really eager, feel free to pour some into a cup right away (just make sure the cup is filled with ice). Either way, enjoy!

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