Reading the Tea Leaves



Product Reviewed
Takeya Flash Chill Tea Maker: 2-Quart


Tea is pretty much the perfect drink: It’s delicious, virtually calorie-free and a cinch to make. As if that isn’t compelling enough, it also appears to have health benefits that go way beyond the water content. Specifically, the flavonoids in tea may be advantageous with regard to cancer and heart disease, but might help the body in other ways as well. Of course, unless you choose herbal tea exclusively, you will be getting some caffeine in your cup.

I make iced tea all the time because it feels like a special treat compared to plain water. I’m also safe in the knowledge that I won’t be drinking near as much added sugar as the average American adult, who relies on soda and energy drinks when they’re thirsty, and possibly gets over 10% of their calories this way.

I like to have it on hand, chilled and ready to drink year-round. So I was very eager to try the Takeya Flash Chill Tea Maker. The infuser insert does double duty for brewing tea and flavoring the tea with fruit, herbs or other creative concoctions. It was super easy to use right out of the box and now I’ve played with it so many times, I’m a flash-chillin’ pro.

After my first brew experience, I tried to put the BPA-free pitcher in my refrigerator when I realized it was tall; too tall, in fact, to fit in the door or on any of my shelves. Hmmmm. I was stumped for a moment, until I re-read the instructions and found out you can store it on its side! Genius. The 2-quart pitcher is also awfully skinny, so if you do have a tall enough spot, it won’t take up much shelf space at all. You could also opt for the shorter 1-quart version instead for more compact tea storage.

If you’re a tea drinker, it’s easy to make a habit out of sipping flavored, bottled tea. It’s certainly convenient and delicious, but also costly. Making a whole pitcher of it yourself at home really only takes minutes, and that means you control the type and amount of sweetener and can opt for all-natural flavors. It won’t get boring either. My local tea shop has 175 varieties of loose leaf tea, so I’ve still got a long way to go. If you’ve got a tea house or store near you, the staff can be a great resource. When you run out of ideas of your own, ask for tips or suggestions for making creative iced teas. You could mix it up by using black, green, or herbal and play around with different blends in the infuser for sweet, tart or floral flavors. I did, and I came up with a tropical combination that pleases my palate: Coconut Mango White Tea.


Coconut Mango White Tea

Recipe by Kristine Duncan, MS, RDN, CDE

Yield: approximately 40 fluid ounces
Total brew time: Boil + steep = 20 minutes; infuse = 3 hours

Don’t be discouraged by the number of steps. This recipe comes together in no time.

Ingredients

5 cups water
10 white tea bags, strings and tags removed
1 cup frozen mango, thawed in microwave 45 seconds
1/4 cup large flake coconut, toasted
5 cups ice cubes (about 2 ice trays worth)
Sweetener as needed

Directions

  1. Put water on to boil.
  2. While it’s heating, prep tea bags and place them in the infuser. Then, thaw mango and toast coconut.
  3. Once water boils, remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes before pouring into empty Takeya pitcher.
  4. Before attaching lid to infuser, dip infuser into pitcher to get teabags wet. If necessary, push bags down with a spoon until they’re submerged. Screw lid onto infuser and attach to pitcher with one full turn. It won’t be fully closed but this will leave room for steam to escape. Steep tea for 5 minutes.
  5. While you’re waiting, measure out ice cubes.
  6. Disconnect lid from infuser and press bags to release any remaining tea liquid into the pitcher. Then remove tea bags by holding infuser upside down and tapping until they fall out. Add ice cubes to tea and flash chill by sealing lid and shaking for 30 seconds.
  7. Remove lid. Put mango and coconut into infuser. Twist lid on infuser, put in pitcher and twist all the way closed. Refrigerate and let infuse for 3 hours. Give it a good shake about halfway through infusing time.
  8. Once finished, disconnect lid from infuser and press down on mango and coconut to release any liquid into the pitcher. Then remove infuser and discard coconut and mango.
  9. Now the tea is ready to drink. It’s great as is, but sweetening brings out more of the mango flavor. 
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Kristine Duncan, MS, RD, CDE
Kristine Duncan, MS, RD, CDE, is a dietitian and certified diabetes educator in Bellingham, Wash. Read her blog, Veg Girl RD, where she writes about diet and nutrition from a vegetarian’s point of view, and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn.