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Friday, June 13, 2014

Hibiscus-Raspberry Black & Green Iced Tea w/ Chia Seeds

Hibiscus-Raspberry Black & Green Iced Tea w/ Chia Seeds
Guess what? June is National Iced Tea Month. And how does one celebrate the glories of that cool, refreshing beverage? By entering a contest to win a 7-day trip to London. ENGLAND!

Why London? London just so happens to be the birthplace of Tetley Tea. I was beyond excited to receive an invitation to participate in the London On Ice contest, which is put on by Tetley USA in honor of their new Black & Green Blend. My challenge: to create a non-alcoholic (cough, cough...ahem) iced tea recipe using Tetley's Black & Green.

Commence testing!

The first thing that I did was brew myself a plain cup of Black & Green, so I knew where to begin. Now, here's the thing - I'm a morning coffee drinker. I love my coffee. Occasionally I'm in the mood for a morning tea, but usually I enjoy it later in the day. I'm sure this is because I grew up watching my parents drink coffee in the morning; you live what you learn and all. But that doesn't mean that I don't have a nice little stock of tea in my pantry. Tea is actually a fantastic addition to many recipes, as well.

Back to the matter at hand. Green tea is one of my favorite ways to feel energized if I start feeling a midday slump. The thing about it is, it can have a bit of a bitter taste. That's what's so great about Tetley Black & Green Blend, by combining the smoother full flavor of black tea with green tea, that bitterness is pushed aside.
Hibiscus-Raspberry Black & Green Iced Tea w/ Chia Seeds
So, there I was...sipping, thinking, taking notes...when my mind split into two very different directions. I couldn't shake either idea, so I made both. I needed to see how each would play out. One version was delicate, with notes of floral and orange. The other was bright, bold, and vibrant. I was at an impasse for a good 48 hours. Three photo shoots (no joke), multiple taste-testers, and a dozen "helpful eyes" later, my decision was made.

I went with bright, bold, and vibrant.

I combined the summery flavors and jewel-tones hues of hibiscus flowers and raspberries with the Black & Green tea to add rich berry and floral notes. And if you know me, you can probably guess that I couldn't not include chia seeds. I may be slightly obsessed. I mean, it can only be right to pile the extra fiber, protein, and antioxidants the chia seeds add to the health benefits of green tea. Right? Right.
Hibiscus-Raspberry Black & Green Iced Tea w/ Chia Seeds
So, my submission to Tetley USA's London on Ice contest is Hibiscus-Raspberry Black & Green Iced Tea with Chia Seeds. It's bold, delicious, refreshing, and definitely a crowd-pleaser.

I know this recipe has a lot of steps, but please don't let that scare you away - they are all incredibly simple. As in, combine a couple of ingredients, bring them to a boil, let them steep, and then strain them. Stir them all together and you have a pitcher full of magical liquid. I promise it's worth it.

Hibiscus-Raspberry Black & Green Iced Tea w/ Chia Seeds
Black & Green Iced Tea brewed with hibiscus and sweetened with a raspberry simple syrup has a rich, bright, bold flavor with floral and berry notes and extra nutrients (fiber, protein, antioxidants) from the addition of chia seeds.
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Hibiscus-Raspberry Black & Green Iced Tea w/ Chia Seeds
by Heather Schmitt-Gonzalez
Prep Time: 15 minutes (active) + 14 hours (inactive)
Keywords: beverage dairy-free low-sodium nut-free soy-free vegan chia seeds tea hibiscus raspberries summer

Ingredients (1 gallon)
  • 2 cups dried Hibiscus flowers
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups fresh raspberries
  • 10 Tetley Black & Green Blend tea bags
  • 3/4 cup chia seeds
to serve:
  • fresh raspberries to garnish, optional
  • lots of ice cubes
step one (making unsweetened hibiscus water):
Combine the hibiscus flowers and 6 cups of water in a pot large enough to hold them. Bring the water to a boil, and let it bubble for one minute. Remove the pot from the heat and allow the flowers to steep for 2 hours; strain and discard flowers (or save them for another use).

step two (making raspberry simple syrup):
At the same time you're working on step one, you can work on this step. Combine the sugar and 1 cup of water in a small pot over low heat and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. Add the raspberries to the pot, and using a potato masher (or something similar), press on the raspberries until they turn into a pulp. Remove from heat and allow to sit until cool.

Strain the raspberry simple syrup, discarding the solids.

step three (brewing the tea):
You can also do this step in conjunction with the first two steps. Put 8-1/2 cups of water in a large pot and bring to a boil. Once it is boiling, add the tea bags, stir, and turn off the heat. Allow to sit for 5 minutes. Lift out the tea bags, pressing to release any liquid back into the pot. You should have about 2 quarts.

step four (combining everything to make the final tea):
Combine all three elements into a one gallon pitcher (or two smaller ones). While stirring, pour in the chia seeds. Refrigerate overnight (12 hours or so), stirring or shaking every once in a while to keep restribute the chia seeds. The long overnight sit allows the chia seeds to develop a good gel-like texture, plus the tea gets nice and cold.

When you're ready to serve, put lots of ice cubes into a glass, stir the tea once again, then pour it over the ice. Garnish with a couple of raspberries, if you wish. Enjoy!
Hibiscus-Raspberry Black & Green Iced Tea w/ Chia Seeds
p.s. - I really loved my other more-delicate-yet-equally-delicious version, too. Watch for it soon, because even though I'm not entering it into the contest, it still deserves to be shared!

I received a free box of Tetley Black & Green Tea to sample, and for the purpose of developing an iced tea recipe to enter into Tetley USA's London on Ice contest. All opinions stated in this post are my own.