As the hot, dog days of summer set in, the craving for an icy cold beverage can rise as quickly as the mercury on a thermometer. To quench your summer thirst, why not try the hottest cold drink trend of the season: water infused with fresh herbs!
Herbal infusions are made when herbs are soaked for long periods in water. Infusions have been valued for their health benefits by natural medicine practitioners for centuries. But today, everyone from professional nutritionists to general foodies have jumped on the bandwagon, singing the praises of water infused with fresh herbs.
Benefits of Herb Infused Water
It tastes great, without added sugar: The long steeping process involved in making herb-infused waters guarantees a unique natural taste without the added sugars or artificial sweeteners found in most sodas and other soft drinks.
It encourages hydration: Staying well hydrated is vital to staying healthy in the summer heat. Drinking lots of water is also the key to many weight loss plans. Getting enough water is a breeze when you’re drinking it infused with fresh herbs.
It’s simple to make: All you need is water, fresh herbs, a refrigerator, and a pitcher (even a mason jar will do).
It’s inexpensive: Infusions are a great way to use fresh herbs that you can grow yourself. Many herbs grow just as well in containers as they do in a garden plot, so even those with small outdoor spaces can still grow their own herbs.
How to Make an Herbal Infusion
- Start with a pitcher or other wide mouthed container. There are fancy straining pitchers available, which are convenient but not necessary. The same kind of containers you might use for iced tea will work just fine.
- Fill the pitcher one-eighth to one-quarter full of well-washed fresh herbs. Stronger herbs, like rosemary, require less than an herb like mint or basil with a less astringent taste.
- Add fruit to create your own custom flavors.
- Fill the rest of the pitcher with cool, clean water.
- Refrigerate for a minimum of four hours. It’s best to allow your infusion to soak overnight so that the water soaks up the taste and nutrients in the herbs.
- Serve over ice. Infusions can be stored in the refrigerator. For optimum freshness use within three days.
Herbs to Use in Your Infusions
Mint not only has that familiar crisp taste, it’s also a natural pick-me-up that will leave you feeling super-refreshed.
Basil brings the flavor of summer to your infused water as well as being an excellent source of vitamins. It’s sweet flavor blends beautifully with just about any fruit or berry.
Oregano may bring to mind spaghetti sauce rather than flavored water, but in an infusion, it adds a grown-up tang and gives your immune system the boost it needs to fight off summer colds.
Rosemary brings a hint of the floral to your infused water as well as a naturally soothing balm for your spirit.
Tips for Making Herbal Infusions
- Try different blends of favorite fresh herbs to create your own signature drink. Or slice and dice fresh fruits and vegetables to go with your herbs. Cucumber and mint, basil and strawberry, and rosemary and grapefruit pair well.
- By adding more or less of your chosen herbs or adjusting up or down the amount of time you let the herbs steep, you can control the strength of your infusion’s taste profile.
- Herb infused water makes great ice cubes, adding a shot of herbal flavor to drinks of all sorts.
There’s a good reason herbal infusions are the new star of the summer drinks scene: they’re easy and inexpensive to make. They provide numerous health benefits, especially when compared with sugary sodas. And they are an excellent way to use your homegrown herbs.