Popularized at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, iced tea is a summertime staple.

After water, tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world and in addition to hydration, tea offers many health benefits. The Harvard School of Public Health rates tea, including unsweetened iced tea, as one of the healthiest beverages. All varieties of tea (green, black, oolong, and white) come from the Camellia Sinensis plant. While called "teas" herbal teas are not actually tea, but infusions of various herbs and do not provide the same health benefits as traditional teas.

There are plenty of good reasons to enjoy a cold glass of ice tea this summer, including:

Naturally low calorie

Replacing high-calorie drinks such as soda, sweet tea and lemonade with unsweetened ice tea, you can significantly cut calories. One 12 ounces serving of soda, regular lemonade or sweet tea averages 125 calories, while 12 ounces of unsweetened tea equivalent has only 2 calories. Garnish with fresh fruit, mint or a squeeze of lemon juice to enhance tea’s flavor. If you prefer sweetened tea, you can opt for low-calorie natural sweeteners such as stevia.

Weight loss aide

Drinking very low calorie beverages aids hydration and can help to reduce food cravings and hunger sensation. Recent research has identified stimulant substances found in tea that provide minor increases in metabolic rate and fat burning, aiding weight loss. All tea contains these substances, but green tea has the highest ratio of fat burning substances.

Loaded with antioxidants

Brewed iced tea (green or black) is an excellent source of disease fighting antioxidants. Tea antioxidants help strengthen bones and offer protection against fractures. Antioxidants found in tea may also protect you from several forms of cancers, including breast, skin, prostate and lung cancer. Powered reconstituted teas contain far fewer antioxidant compounds compared to brewed teas. When purchasing bottled tea to enjoy on the go, look for products that indicate “brewed”, not just brewed taste, on the label.

Fights heart disease

Drinking tea may help prevent hardening of the arteries and lower risk for a heart attack. Black tea may also increase your chances of surviving a heart attack. Anti-inflammatory properties of the antioxidants found in tea provide these protective benefits for your heart and may help reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke by as much as 20%.

Cool recipes for hot summer days

Apple cranberry sparkler

2 cups boiling water

1 Lipton® Iced Tea Brew Family Size Tea Bag

1 cup chilled cranberry juice cocktail

1 cup chilled apple juice

Directions:

Pour boiling water over Lipton® Iced Tea Brew Family Size Tea Bag in saucepan. Cover and brew 5 minutes. Remove Tea Bag and squeeze. Combine tea and juices in pitcher; if desired, sweeten with a low calorie sweetener, and then chill.

Recipe Source: LiptonTea.com

Basil Mojito iced tea


4 cups water

2 Lipton® Iced Tea Brew Family Size Tea Bags