Frugali-tea

Let me just start out by saying that I really like tea.  I always have.  I like it hot, iced, luke warm, black, green, red, plain, flavored, loose, bagged, morning, noon, night, caffeinated and not caffeinated.  I even like teas that are not teas: tisanes or herbal “teas.” So, this transition was easy for me…but for my husband–not so much.  He has often commented that he has nothing against tea, but that it doesn’t taste like anything. And he was always more of a coffee drinker in the morning.

I am proud to say that I have converted him. Not that he likes it much more than before, but, at this point in our house, it’s either water or tea, and however you squeeze it, tea has more flavor than water.  He still has coffee, too, so don’t feel bad for him.

The evolution of having just three things (water, tea and coffee) to drink in our house was gradual.   I used to buy a lot of juice, but, being cognizant of the amount sugar and calories most “natural” juices contained, I started to buy the stuff with the sweeteners. I would also occasionally buy soda if it was a really good deal, though diet, of course, because of the whole calorie thing. But, then I really started to worry about what the sweeteners were doing to my body.  At that time, I was also adding sweeteners to several cups of hot tea throughout the day, usually the yellow packets. And the simple truth is that nobody knows what sweeteners do to the body.  I decided I needed to stop playing roulette with a possible carcinogen and stop using sweeteners.  Okay, okay… I do still, on the very rare occasion, which is usually a latte, use sweeteners, but it is still a MASSIVE reduction for me.

Despite always having a cup of tea at home, I never really kept a pitcher of it in the fridge.  As long as I was buying juice, my husband wasn’t touching it. But once I decided to stop buying juice…I knew I needed another option.  I grabbed a margarita pitcher that, sadly, had never seen enough margaritas, and began to keep a pitcher of iced tea in the fridge.

There are many schools of thought on how to properly prepare iced tea.  This is my method: Fill pitcher with water, throw in 5-6 bags of tea, stick in fridge.  Within a few hours, it is steeped. I tend not to use hot water because I am using a glass pitcher.  I apologize to tea connoisseurs around the world that may be cringing at this method of tea preparation (i.e., not steeped at the correct temperature for the correct amount of time)  but it works just fine.  And, really, if it were more work, I might not do it.  I usually use a plain, cheap black or green tea bags as a base, and then add one to two bags of “flavor” such as mint or chai.  Sometimes, if I want to get fancy, I might add a bit of honey or fresh squeezed lemon.  And now that I have a juicer, things can start to get really crazy.

The advantages of converting to tea rather than juice and soda are numerous.  1) There is the health benefit of not drinking sugar and other crap and drinking tea, which has a lot of health benefits. 2) There is also the cost advantage.  If before I was spending $2-$4 on each 64 oz juice, now I spend mere pennies on a pitcher of iced tea.  For example, I just bought a pack of 100 grocery store brand black tea packets for $1.99.  If I made a pitcher of just plain black tea, it would cost just 12 cents.  If I added a couple of packets of Bigelow’s Plantation mint (on sale for $1.95 for 18 packets) the cost would shoot up to around 30 cents!  3) Plus, I am reducing the waste I am producing by not buying 2-3 large plastic bottles or many more cans every week.  When I am done using the tea bags they get fed to my worms.

Here is where I make my confession.  I still feel that my offerings are a bit meager for company.  I hate that I feel this way.  But I do.  As a hostess, I feel that I am being inconsiderate.  That not everyone likes iced tea like I do.  Or maybe they can’t drink it because of the caffeine. Or maybe they’re six years old.  So, I still feel pressured to go out and buy more choices.  I hope to wean myself off of this need.  And I think the way I will do that is by playing around with combinations of flavors to add to my tea, so that it’s an exotic offering rather than a boring one.  I’m already thinking of throwing a piece of ginger in the juicer and experimenting. I hope to come back to this page and add many interesting (and cheap) recipes.

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