Red Rooibos Tea "Sangria"
A delicious, hydrating iced tea made from caffeine-free rooibos. It's lightly sweetened with white grape juice (instead of sugar) and packed with plenty of fresh fruit. A perfect refreshing drink for the warm months ahead! Kid friendly. Vegan & Gluten Free. <jump to recipe>
When you're out in the sun all day, staying hydrated is no easy feat. I always find it helpful keeping plenty of drinks chilling in the fridge – that way, everyone is so much more likely to drink an extra glass or two. Most days, I stick to water. Plain and filtered. But in the hot months, I go a bit crazy. Iced tea production goes into overdrive. Chia seed agua frescas are cranked out in every flavor. And our recent trip to Joshua Tree was no different. Anguel and I spent the first half of our trip exploring the dessert, and then retreating to the epic backyard of our Airbnb. There, we'd sit back and relax. Sipping (real talk: guzzling) all the liquids in sight to stay hydrated.
I briefly mentioned the camping portion of our Joshua Tree trip in an earlier post, but I didn't get a chance to tell you about this Airbnb – or its backyard! It was truly what dreams are made of. A big fire pit perfect for roasting marshmallows, a vintage outdoor fireplace to cozy up around, a BBQ, an area to play horseshoes, and little cacti that looked like Mickey Mouse heads. It was like adult summer camp – for two. The only thing that would have made it better is a cowboy tub, which was unfortunately out of commission until it was "hotter out". As if that place could get even hotter (newsflash: it does).
Our favorite day-time bevy of the trip was hands down the Red Rooibos Tea Sangria. It's an easy one to throw together – even if you're in the middle of the desert using someone else's kitchen. Tea sangria was a trick I picked up from working at a fancy tea store in my teenage years. Back in the day, I seriously questioned why anyone would want to drink "sangria" without the wine. Now, I totally get it. Age might add wisdom, but it definitely takes away any ability to recover from hangovers. Oh, the ironic circle of life. That job also armed with an unnecessary amount of tea knowledge – which goes largely unused until I decide to write posts about tea. And luck for you, here we are.
A bit about tea. First off, if you wanted to get technical, you could argue that rooibos isn't actually tea at all. Tea comes from a Camellia plant. There are different varieties of Camellia plants, which are used to produce different types of black and green teas. Rooibos on the other hand comes from a South African bush plant. It's more akin to a herb than a tea. But it steeps well in water, tastes good, and to the normal human eye it looks like tea – so let's move on. The second piece I wanted to cover was steeping methods. The caffeine and tannins in black and green tea call for very specific water temperatures and steeping times to avoid getting bitter tea (so if you're pouring boiling water on green tea, you should think again). Since rooibos doesn't have caffeine and has much less tannins, it makes it pretty foolproof. I like to steep the tea overnight in cold water, mainly for convenience (some of my pitchers don't take well to boiling hot water, so I've learned). But you could totally use hot water instead and chill it after that. I recommend that in either case you refrigerate the mixture to cool it down. If you simply add ice to boiling hot water to try to cool it down – you'll probably end up with a lot of water that tastes faintly like tea.
Once the tea is steeped and chilled, you can add white grape juice for a bit of sweetness. Then pile in heaps of freshly sliced fruit. Over time the fruit will absorb some of the sweet rooibos flavor, so I like to add the fruit at least an hour before serving (if I can remember). Add ice to serving glasses then pour the tea on top. Sip (or guzzle) and enjoy!
RED ROOIBOS TEA "SANGRIA"
MAKES ~1 1/2 LITERS
4 red rooibos teabags
4 cups filtered water
1 1/2 - 2 cups white grape juice*
4-5 assorted fruits, sliced (e.g. plums, peaches, apple, nectarine)
Drop rooibos teabags to the bottom of a large pitcher, then pour in water. Let the teabags steep overnight.
The next morning, add white grape juice to taste (~1 1/2 - 2 cups). Add in sliced fruit. The longer the fruit sits, the more it absorbs the rooibos flavor. Serve cold with plenty of ice.
*For a homemade version, you can blend green seedless grapes in a high speed blender and then strain through a cheesecloth. 2 heaping cups of grapes yields ~1 1/2 cups juice.