There’s a lot of buzz out there over infused waters and teas.
Just a few weekends ago I brought an infused tea to a family gathering, and my cousin asked me, “Is infusing my water something I should be doing? Is it super good for you or something?”
My answer to her was, “No better than eating the fruits, herbs, veggies etc, and then just drinking the water.” Now, don’t get me wrong, I think infused teas and waters are great, but they’re not magical. Sure, putting a few slices of lemon or orange into your water gives you more vitamin C than plain water, but lets not forget that you could just eat the fruit in the first place and also get the vitamins along with some fiber (although I don’t blame anyone for not wanting to eat straight lemons). So I guess you could say that for certain fruits (like lemons and limes), or certain herbs/spices (like mint or ginger) infusing them into your water or tea may provide benefits simply because you might not be consuming them otherwise. But for the most part, the big benefits of infused waters and teas are the following in my book:
– It increases your consumption of water, particularly for people that say they “don’t like the taste of water” or that “water has no flavor.” These people are usually not getting in the recommended 8-10 cups of water per day, so by infusing their water and making it more appealing to them, they have a better chance of meeting their hydration needs.
– In many cases, when people don’t like drinking water, they turn to less desirable beverage options such as soda or juice, which generally have little nutrition to offer besides calories from sugar (the exception here would be if you are “juicing” fruits and vegetables yourself with a powerful juicer). Even diet beverages, though devoid of calories, really aren’t the type of hydration that our bodies are seeking. Now, there is a whole lot of controversy out there even among the experts, as to whether or not artificial sweeteners are “bad for you” but here’s what the science has told us thus far – consumers can safely enjoy the artificial sweeteners for sale in the US. If you want to read more about this topic, I recommend the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ position paper on nutritive and non-nutritive sweeteners. Really, I will have to dedicate an entire blog post to this sometime in the future cause it’s quite a hot topic. But aside from the fact that there is no research to suggest that they’re harmful, there are other downsides to consuming artificial sweeteners. Namely, it has been shown that the consumption of artificial sweeteners can make you crave sugary foods and thus increase caloric intake from simple sugars. I usually explain it to people like this – the diet soda you’re drinking is tricking your body. Your giving it sweet taste without sweet calories, and in some people, that can make you crave those sweet calories that your body thinks it should be getting. So, if you’re an avid diet soda drinker or if you are really into drinks like Crystal Light and have been wanting to cut back or quit, then infused water and/or tea might be a great switch for you to make.
Let’s sum up:
Infused waters and teas are not magical detox drinks that are going to make you lose a ton of weight or look twenty years younger (unless perhaps you combined them with diet and exercise changes), but they do taste great and have added nutritional benefits over plain water or tea because of the fruits, veggies, and/or herbs and spices that you’re infusing with.
So, with that being said, here’s one of my personal favorite infusions…
This is Ginger, Green Tea (Tazo, I believe) that’s infused with mint and citrus fruits (in this case orange and lime).
One of the great things about infusions, is that you really don’t need a recipe. You can just make it up as you go along and play around until you find combinations that you really like.
To make this tea (and side note, the following “recipe” made way more tea than is in the picture, I just really like mason jars), I just boiled a big pot of water, and poured it over 4 of the Tazo Ginger Green Tea teabags. I let that steep for about ten -fifteen minutes, then removed and pitched the tea bags. Then I added several sprigs of dried mint (if using fresh herbs it’s best to sort of gently bend and crush them so that they release more flavor). I added 1 lime, sliced and also 1/2 of a large orange, sliced. Then you just pop it into the fridge and let it cool and infuse. I think it’s best the same or the following day, but it will keep in the fridge for a while. Just know that when using tart fruits like limes and lemons, the longer it infuses, the more pucker-worthy it gets.
For those of you that are diet soda addicts (cough, cough – Lindsay and my dear cousin Keri 😉 ) here’s a good one for you, especially if you drink soda for the carbonation. Take cranberry juice (regular or diet) and plain seltzer water (which is just carbonated water – no sugars, real or otherwise) and mix about 1 part cranberry juice to 3 parts seltzer water. Then, slice up a few oranges, limes, lemons – whatever you’ve got and throw them in. When I make this around the holiday, I also throw in a bag of cranberries because it looks really pretty and festive. Then, you’ve got yourself a lovely, bubbly, low-cal holiday spritzer. Basically, if you like the carbonation of sodas, try using seltzer water mixed with a little juice and fresh fuit. Another example – mix OJ, seltzer water, and sliced strawberries. You really can’t go wrong here.
I hope that clears things up about all the hype over infused beverages. If you have any other great flavor combos you want to share, or any questions you’d like to ask, don’t be shy about leaving a comment!
And just because I haven’t shared a Luna picture for a while…..