Summer Hydration And Sun Tea Recipe

Perhaps one of the most important things to remember during the hot summer months is to stay well hydrated. While water is excellent for flushing out toxins, it may not be the tastiest beverage, and it doesn't provide the electrolytes lost through sweat. At such times, we are tempted to reach for store-bought beverages, many of which are expensive, contain added sugar, artificial sweeteners, and other additives that our bodies don’t need.

It is easy to stay balanced and energized with healthy homemade beverages that don't contain sugar and empty calories. For flavor, vitamins, and minerals, we can use fresh or frozen fruit, vegetables, and herbs added to plain or sparkling water, fruit slushies, smoothies, freshly-squeezed juices, and homemade popsicles.

Fermented non-alcoholic beverages such as kombucha or water kefir take more time and effort to make, but they can be particularly satisfying and balancing for the digestive system by providing naturally-occurring probiotics. Plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables in our daily diet are another way to stay hydrated and maintain the energy we need for long summer days and fun activities we don't want to miss.

I am not a coffee drinker so I drink tea all year round. I take breaks during the day for "tea time" not only to get some extra fluids into my body, but to remind myself that it is important to slow down, take a moment to reflect on my day and connect with my body, mind, and spirit. On hot days, I like to sit outside with a glass of iced tea that I make in the morning to drink throughout the day. Most recently, I discovered the art and science of making sun tea, which has become one of my morning rituals during the summer.

Sun tea is a flavorful version of traditional iced tea, but the heat of the sun infuses cold (or room temperature) water with a choice of ingredients, including herbal, fruit, black, green, or white tea leaves with or without caffeine. You can use loose leaves or tea bags. I find loose leaves more potent containing higher amounts of antioxidants in addition to having a chance to be creative and use flavors that seem most appealing and tasty when mixed. The most important thing is to make the sun tea in advance and have it ready when it is time to indulge and share it with friends.

For my favorite concoction I add hibiscus, green tea, and nettle leaves.* This infusion is refreshing, detoxifying, balancing, and highly energizing due to the abundance of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and a healthy amount of caffeine from the green tea. This tea has potent medicinal properties. It is rich in vitamin C and iron and can assist iron-deficient anemia and fatigue. Nettle leaves can help lower blood pressure, treat diabetes, reduce inflammation, regulate hormonal imbalances, and promote heart health. Green tea is one of the best sources of powerful antioxidants called ECGC (Epigallocatechin gallate). ECGC's anti-inflammatory properties have been proven to be beneficial in treating conditions such as cancer, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and neurogenerative disease. Hibiscus is mostly known for lowering blood pressure, but it is also a good source of vitamin C, A, B1, zinc, and other antioxidants necessary for the immune system to work properly. Studies involving athletes showed that drinking an infusion made from hibiscus and green tea had positive effects on oxidative stress and muscle damage from intense exercise.

Sun Tea Recipe

Ingredients:

• Filtered water (cold or room temperature)

• Two tsp. of each: hibiscus, green tea, and nettle leaves

• Honey or other natural sweeteners (optional)

• Lemon wedges (optional)

• Clean quart-size jar

• Sunny day and positive attitude (not optional)

Method:

Place tea leaves in the jar and fill with water. Cover with the lid. Place the jar in a sunny spot and keep it there for 3-5 hours. Tea potency depends on brewing time and tea-leaf quality. When ready, strain the tea into a pitcher or another jar. Add honey to taste if desired and keep it in the fridge for up to three days. Add ice and lemon before serving (optional). Relax, sip slowly, and feel the therapeutic properties of tea infused with the sun’s healing energy.

Health facts:

• Rich in iron (nettle)

• Rich in vitamin C (nettle and hibiscus)

• Rich in potassium (nettle)

• Rich in vitamin A and B1 (hibiscus)

• Rich in polyphenols, and flavonoids

• Great source of ECGC (green tea)

• Good source of electrolytes

* Don't use this tea if you are pregnant. Consult with your medical practitioner before drinking this tea, especially if you are taking medications for high blood pressure, diabetes, or blood thinners.