“Now, this tastes exciting!”, my husband exclaimed with enthusiasm. I had made several iced tea experiments and this one seemed to please our palates most.
If you like cherry and vanilla (and who doesn’t!) this iced tea is sure to kill your thirst in a most refreshing and exciting way. Sweet cherry is simply part of summer with its fruitiness, vanilla stevia gives an elegant hint of this fantastic flavor while lime juice plays an important role in freshening the flavors with a tangy yet smooth kick of citrus.
Tips for making the iced tea
This refreshing beverage is really simple to make. The only bad thing is to try to hold your horses until the drink is ice-cold.
You can easily adjust the flavors to your liking. It might be a good idea to start with small amounts of cherry flavor, lime juice and especially vanilla stevia, and add more if you crave for fuller flavors.
My experiments and developing the recipe
Yes, like I mentioned, I have lately created lots of iced tea experiments. It has been surprisingly hot weather for some time (well, usually Finland is pretty cold place; the only hot places are saunas which we have in almost every household to compensate the cold and hostile weather), so my throat was crying out for something cold and fresh.
I have to confess that I hate hot weather. So, considering that Finland is not too bad place to live. I wonder if I’m the only one in the world who hates hot weather… Wait, no, my former colleague also disliked summer and hot weather. Phew! I’m not alone.
But now I was totally digressing from the topic. Sorry. So, that uncomfortably hot weather needed something cold to cure my exhaustion and revive me, and what could have been better than freezing-cold, tasty iced tea bursting with fresh juiciness and restorative rooibos tea? You guess: nothing.
I had made gallons of iced tea experiments before, but the perfect recipe was still eluding me. I checked my notes and started with some well-tried ingredients. One thing was sure: I wanted to use rooibos tea since it’s super-healthy and what is most important, it doesn’t have any caffeine. That means that I can happily give it for my toddler and for my husband. Neither of them can stand caffeine.
Actually, I did some experiments with peppermint tea too, but I wasn’t completely satisfied even the flavors were minty and fresh. I even tried peppermint patty iced tea by adding some chocolate-flavored stevia to peppermint tea, but that was a total disaster! I never use word “yuck” but this is the only time I would shout “Yuck!”, if you let me. Thank you.
So, rooibos tea was a sure thing with its honey-like smooth flavor. In addition to the obvious tea, the drink needed also something fruity and tangy. Citrus would be a natural option, but actually, which citrus fruit to choose? Lemon was a familiar source of tang for iced tea — and that worked here as well — but how about my absolutely favorite citrus, lime? That tasted even better!
Stevia was my choice for sweetener. I had two options: vanilla stevia and unflavored stevia, both of which I finally used more or less successfully to sweeten my iced tea. Mainly the problem was to use the right amount so that the tea wasn’t too sweet or didn’t taste too bland.
My iced tea experiments with rooibos tea, lime juice and stevia (vanilla or unflavored) were nicely killing my thirst, but they didn’t give me the ultimate satisfaction. I wanted to try something a bit different. I browsed through my idea list for drinks, and the idea for cherry vanilla iced tea caught my eye. I had jotted down ingredients but no quantities: rooibos tea, hot water, vanilla stevia and cherry flavor.
I boiled 3 cups (700 ml) of water where I steeped 3 bags of natural, unflavored rooibos tea. After refrigerating the drink I added 2 teaspoons cherry flavor and 20 drops vanilla stevia. There wasn’t enough cherry flavor, so I added still 1 teaspoon. The drink could have been slightly sweeter, too, so I added another 10 drops of vanilla stevia.
Vanilla and cherry was a stunning combination — like we all know — but there was something missing. The drink tasted too bland and too sweet. It was too lame. It definitely needed something tangy to compensate the syrupy taste.
Lime juice! At first I was thinking of lemon juice, but as lime goes so well with vanilla and has more elegant flavor (and of course, is simply my favorite citrus fruit…) I added first 1, then another tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice.
Oh! Or if I would use letters O, M and G one after another, this was the right place to use them. I was thrilled to bits about the heavenly flavor combination. Lime juice was exactly the missing link which changed the bland-tasting, syrupy drink into a fresh and flavorful pick-me-up.
I wanted to find out the best ratios between the ingredients. Whenever I made a pitcher of iced tea, my husband quickly gulped down the whole amount. Or, if he wasn’t there, I did. After a few adjustments I was completely satisfied. Finally! After experimenting with iced tea for a few years I’m so glad that I can share my best iced tea recipe with you. I hope you like it as well!
Oh, and what is the best thing: even this iced tea is sweet, it doesn’t leave that sticky, ugly feeling to your mouth than what conventional sugar-laden iced tea would do. And this tea is low-carb, practically no-carb!
And here is finally the recipe:
Tips for variation
You can replace the vanilla stevia with unflavored stevia and use vanilla rooibos tea instead of unflavored rooibos tea. Since unflavored stevia is sweeter than vanilla-flavored one, be careful not to make the tea too sweet. Personally I prefer the combination of vanilla stevia and unflavored rooibos tea. Maybe I just haven’t found good enough vanilla-flavored rooibos tea from the nearest grocery store, as they don’t carry my favorite one from Celestial Seasonings.
You can replace the lime juice with lemon juice, or even with orange juice or some other citrus juice. If you are counting carbs, just remember that orange juice is high in carbs compared to lime or lemon juice. In fact, a better option for a scrumptiously fruity no-carb orange flavor is 100% orange essential oil. As this stuff is very strong, 2 drops will be enough to season the whole batch.