Delicious Summertime Drinks - with Zero Waste
Summer time and hot weather call for delicious, cool drinks. It is so tempting to pick up ready-made beverages to satisfy those cravings, but I find that most of them are loaded with sugar, and are over-packaged. Instead, I’ve refined a few recipes for homemade cool summer drinks that are much healthier, less expensive (by a mile) and make no garbage, or even recycling, whatsoever!
There are two kinds of drinks that I make in the summer: quick and easy ones like chilled tea, and fermented drinks that take a little more patience and time. Fermenting adds a probiotic boost and a natural fizz. Either way, they are both much cheaper to make at home than to buy in the store.
Here are some examples of simple steeped beverages that I chill:
- Red Raspberry Leaf tea (see recipe below)
- Nettle tea
- Chicory root, with honey and almond milk (tastes like iced coffee!)
- Water with slices of lemon and/or lime
- Water with slices of cucumber and a few mint leaves
When it comes to fermented beverages, Kombucha and Jun are my two current favorites, but there are many more I want to try. Kombucha is fermented black tea with sugar and Jun is fermented green tea with honey. Not sure what a fermented beverage is? It's any drink that has had a bacterial and/or yeast culture introduced to it. As long as there are natural sugars or added sugars for the culture to eat, it will ferment the liquid (beer, wine and cider are all common examples). If you want to learn more about doing it at home, this is a great website.
Once fermented, Kombucha and Jun take on a mildly sour flavour, towards vinegar, but not as strong and a little sweeter. As a final step, you can add fruit and put it in a sealed bottle (I reuse green Grolsch beer bottles with the flip top seals). After a couple of days, the fizz builds up and the tea takes on the flavour of the fruit you have added. My current favorites are raspberry and sour cherry, but the possibilities are endless.
We also own a home carbonation system by Soda Stream. If I don’t have time to ferment something, I can create fizzy beverages flavoured with whatever home-made or commercial syrup I like (home-made rhubarb syrup is amazing!) – and there are no single-use bottles involved.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with plain water. I drink that a lot too! But sometimes its nice to have something sweet and flavourful on a hot day. What about you? Do you make any signature drinks in the summer? Do you have a favorite drink that you buy from the store and want to know how to make it yourself?
Red Raspberry Leaf Chilled Tea
2 tsp red raspberry leaf herbal tea
2 tsp honey
3 cups water, freshly boiled
small handful of fresh or frozen raspberriesice cubes, if desired
ice cubes, if desired
Put red raspberry leaf into a reusable tea ball. Place in a tea pot and pour in boiled water. Allow to steep for at least 5 minutes.
Remove tea ball and add honey while the infusion is still warm. Mix until honey is dissolved. Test sweetness and add more honey if desired.
Pour completed tea into a glass jar and allow it to cool to room temperature before refrigeration if time allows.
Once cool, pour equal amounts into two glasses. Garnish with raspberries and ice cubes. Serve up and enjoy!
Don’t forget to compost the used tea leaves.