Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Iced Tea for Two

Ah, June. As the weather gets warmer and the days get longer, finding ways to stay cool gets more difficult. There is no better way to relax on a hot summer's day than to sip on a cold drink, making June the perfect time to celebrate National Iced Tea Month.

Consumers often choose bottled iced tea as a quick, flavorful, and refreshing thirst-quencher. With its many health benefits, tea has become a popular beverage. In fact, a report released last month by the Beverage Marketing Corporation noted that ready-to-drink teas were the fastest-growing category of refreshment beverage in the United States last year.

From white, green, and black to oolong, herbal, and infused, iced teas are available in many different varieties. Beverage companies are using their creativity to invent even more unique taste sensations.

Take for example, Lipton, which introduced a line of sparkling green teas in berry, strawberry kiwi, and diet strawberry kiwi flavors just last month.

Snapple also welcomed two new blends into its iced tea line with help from Celebrity Apprentice contestants Holly Robinson Peete and Bret Michaels. As part of the show's final challenge, each competitor formulated a Snapple brew that incorporated their charity's mission. Robinson Peete played for the HollyRod Foundation, which provides families in the autism community with access to affordable treatment. Her Compassionberry Tea combined passion fruit and strawberry with "The Best Stuff on Earth." Michaels, a lifelong type-1 diabetic, competed in support of the American Diabetes Association, sponsor of camps for kids with diabetes. His winning Diet Trop-A-Rocka Tea blended peaches, pears, and cinnamon with "The Best Stuff on Earth."

In recent years, iced teas have benefited from health and buying trends. Shoppers recognize Honest Tea for its all-organic ingredients, as well as Sweet Leaf for its all-natural products. Consumers are flocking to AriZona's line of green tea with ginseng and honey and Nestea's red tea with pomegranate for its antioxidant advantages.

How do you enjoy your iced tea? Freshly brewed or bottled? Flavored or "au naturel?" Share your favorite concoction below in the comments section.

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