Summer is here and I need me some iced tea!
Yesterday I was researching the mineral content of table and sea salt, and finding food sources of the trace minerals found in sea salt. It's often said that sea salt is better for healthy eating than table salt, because of the mineral content, but that's for another post. This afternoon I was reading this story on the Fooducate site and one of the sources for calcium they mention I hadn't run across in my research, blackstrap molasses.
Blackstrap molasses is residual product of processing refined sugar. Because it is made during the third (final) boiling of sugar syrup, blackstap has the lowest sucrose content of any type of molasses. But as is stated in the Fooducate article, it is high in calcium, one tablespoon contains 177 mg of calcium, or 20% of the DV (daily value)
And until about two hours ago, I had gotten very used to my homemade unsweetened iced tea. Nothing wrong with it at all. Even though I'm currently living in Georgia, southern style sweet tea is a bit much for me. And soda... don't even get me started.
I just happened to have a (mostly unused and rather dusty) bottle of blackstrap and looked at the label. Turns out calcium isn't the only micronutrient that blackstrap is loaded with. One tablespoon also provides 20% of the DV of vitamin A and iron as well as 10% of the DV for potassium. So I immediately started thinking of ways I could use it in healthy recipes. I figured, it's a sugar, right? Why not use it as a sweetener in my favorite summer drink: iced tea.
How to make blackstrap molasses iced tea:
- 4 cups of water
- 6 black tea bags (preferably ceylon)
- 2 green tea bags (I chose genmai cha) *
- 4 tbps blackstrap molasses
- 3 quarts iced water
- Bring 4 cups of water to just under a boil.
- Place the tea bags into the water.
- Set a timer for 20 minutes and let the tea steep. This is going to make a concentrate for the iced tea.
- When the 20 minutes are up, stir in the blackstrap molasses. You have to add the molasses while the water is still warm so it dilutes evenly.
- Pour the tea/molasses concentrate into the pitcher of ice water. Stir. Let chill.
Being that blackstraps is the final boil of the sugar syrup and has the least amount of sugars of any molasses, the tea isn't terribly sweet but it definitely has a sweetness to it.
I found it to be delicious. Lightly sweetened, somewhat richer than the standard tea and with the small amount of sugars, it didn't have the slight bite an unsweetened tea can have. It's a great example of how making small, simple changes can make healthy eating easier.
With those 4 tablespoons of molasses for the entire mixture, your 16 ounce glass of iced tea is loaded with 5% of the DV for vitamin A, calcium and iron, as well at 2.5% of potassium. All while only containing 5.5 grams of sugar.
How does that stack up to a commercially made sweetened tea, Snapple for example? (As a side note, Snapple stopped using HFCS years ago so they are a-ok in my book.) Snapple sweetened black tea contains 0% of vitamin A, calcium, iron and potassium but contains 46 grams of sugar per 16 ounce serving. Eight times the sugar with none of the minerals. So while it is a very positive thing that Snapple uses sugar instead of HFCS, there is still nothing that qualifies as "good" for you about the lemon tea.
So try it out. I think you'll like it. It's subtle, it's tasty and good for your bones, blood and eyes.
* My original formula for this called for all 8 bags to be black tea but I found this to be a bit too "dark" tasting, so I switched it up.