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Learn more about the phytochemicals in tea.

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Tea Time!

Ahh...there's nothing like sipping a tall glass of iced tea to cool you down on a sultry summer day. Each sip is like taking a dip in a pool and if you do happen to be poolside, well, you've got it made in the shade. No wonder tea is the second most popular beverage in the world—right after water.

Unlike the British, Americans prefer their tea served over ice, rather than hot. Of the 2.2 billion gallons of tea consumed in the U.S. each year, 80 percent of it is served iced.

Tea is not only a terrific thirst-quencher; it's also a treasure trove of health benefits. Tea is full of flavonoids—phytochemicals that act as antioxidants to help fight cancers and boost the immune system.

Don't be a Tea-Totaler

A brand new study found that green and black tea extracts helped lower both overall cholesterol and "bad" LDL cholesterol. The study took place in China and the results were reported in the June 23 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.

Participants, who were also following a low fat diet, consumed a mix of theaflavins (flavonoids from black tea), catechins (flavonoids from green tea) and other tea antioxidants for 12 weeks. The researchers caution that people shouldn't throw out their cholesterol-lowering drugs just yet—you'd have to drink 35 cups of black tea and seven cups of green tea each day to achieve similar results!

For now, just know that you'll be cooling off, getting antioxidants, and potentially lowering your cholesterol by drinking a few cups of tea each day. Celebrate National Iced Tea Month with this refreshing and disease-fighting drink. Try our icy-cool tea recipes and use our tips below to brew the perfect pitcher!

Better Brewing

  • Use twice as much tea when brewing tea that will be iced to compensate for the dilution of the melting ice cubes.
  • Cloudy iced tea is a result of refrigerating hot tea before it has cooled to room temperature. Adding a small amount of boiling water to the cloudy tea will solve the problem.

Brewing/steeping methods:

  • Traditional hot tea method—steep tea in hot water for to 10 minutes, cool and refrigerate.
  • Sun tea method—steep tea in cold water in a glass container in the sun for 2 to 4 hours.
  • Cold water method—steep tea in cold water in a glass container in the refrigerator for 6 to 8 hours.

Here's a breakdown on brewing times for different types of tea:

Type of tea
Water temp
Steeping Time
195 to 200
Leaves of an evergreen shrub camellia sinensis
3 to 5 minutes
195 to 200
Leaves of an evergreen shrub camellia sinensis
3 to 5 minutes
175 to 180
Leaves of an evergreen shrub camellia sinensis
to 1 minute
175 to 180
Unopened new buds of an evergreen shrub camellia sinensis
5 minutes
Tisane (herbal)
195 to 200
Leaves and flowers from plants other then camellia sinensis
5 to 10 minutes

* The evergreen shrub used to produce black, oolong, green and white teas are native to warm rainy climates, particularly China, India, Sri Lanka, Japan and Taiwan. The exact species of camellia sinensis and how it is manufactured varies depending on where it is grown.

— Frances Largeman, RD, Managing Editor
and Bonnie Moore, Executive Chef

Celebrate summer with these terrific tea recipes:

Chamomile Iced Tea Spritzer
Lemon Iced Tea
Sparkling Ginger-Peach Iced Tea
Icy Raspberry Sun Tea
Moroccan Mint Green Tea


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