Summer Thirst Quenchers
It's HOT!! Too hot for me....seriously, as soon as the temp goes over 75, I start feeling faint, and when it hits over 90, like it did today, well, my brain and body just stop functioning. Even if you can handle the heat better than me (which is very likely) you still need to stay hydrated to make it through, so I thought I'd share a few of my favorite summer thirst quenching drinks to help us all.
These drinks are pretty simple, but they still feel like I'm enjoying a special treat, and doing a little something to take care of myself (or whoever I am serving them to). Working as a community organizer, fighting for racial justice, working multiple jobs or supporting your kids in being true to their hearts... there are so many ways that we work really hard, often sacrificing our time, our bodies, and more. A few years ago, my life was way out of balance in this respect, and I have been working on fixing that. One of the things that helps me, is appreciating the little things that make each moment good, so while I'm eternally grateful to have plain clean water to drink in the heat of summer, it feels like a huge gift to reach for something a little more special. A glass of water with a hunk of frozen passion fruit pulp and chia seeds in it for example. It's decadent, but it's inexpensive, delicious and has the added benefit of being good for me too.
Many people in the USA have grown up drinking juice or soda and are not used to the taste of plain water. These drinks are a great alternative to those sugary beverages, for those of you trying to make the switch, and they are easy and completely natural.
Another fun thing is that some of the ingredients in these drinks I source from a variety of food shops in my area (see the sourcing notes at the bottom of the page). I encourage you all to wander a bit more this summer, check out grocery stores in different neighborhoods as well as Asian, Indian, Latinx, Carribean, Italian and African markets... or any other food markets in ANY neighborhood. Don't be afraid to look around, ask questions and talk to people. It's a great way to find amazing new foods, and connect with new neighbors and people. Talking to people you might otherwise not, is a great way to build connections, compassion and hear other perspectives on life (not to mention food). This is a tiny way to help build and heal community and the divisions of race, class, neighborhoods and culture, and have fun at the same time.
Listen to me and Babz make all these drinks and have a great time doing it on Love Babz Radio, Episode 71 on WNHH community radio!
Summer Thirst Quenchers
You can make these drinks in any quantity that works for you. The recipes below are just a guide. They can be made stronger or weaker flavored depending on your preference. Also, I don't sweeten any of these drinks, and I hope you'll try them unsweetened and see if you can get used to it. The passion fruit pulp and other frozen fruit pulps can be found in latino grocery stores or the latino frozen food section of mainstream stores. They are often Goya or La Fey brands, and cost less than $3. Jars of iced tea can be kept in the fridge all summer long. The two teas below are made using boiling water, and I let the finished tea cool before I put it in the fridge. However, some teas work great brewing with room temperature water (sun teas) any green tea does especially well, and I find that you only need one or maybe two tea bags for a whole half gallon of water. Scroll to the bottom of the page for info on where to get ingredients.
From left: passion fruit spritzer with sacred basil seed, seltzer with berries, hibiscus and fresh mint iced teas, hibiscus iced tea, and passionfruit cooler with chia seed.
Passionfruit Cooler with Chia
makes 2 cups
1 tablespoon chia seeds
2 cups water
2-4 tablespoons of passionfruit pulp or other juice
- Mix chia seeds and water, shake or stir well, and continue mixing until seeds start to plump.
- Add frozen pulp, fresh fruit or other juice. Shake and enjoy through the day, adding more water as you go to make the goodness last.
Fresh Mint Iced Tea
makes 1/2 gallon
2 Large handfuls of fresh stems of mint leaves (or one bunch from the store)
1 quart water boiled
- Place mint (stems and all) in a heat proof glass half gallon jar or heat proof bowl. Pour boiling water over mint and let steep for 30 minutes or longer.
- Add 1 quart cold water. Remove mint leaves. Refrigerate and enjoy over ice. Keeps for 1 week.
Hibiscus Iced Tea
makes 1/2 gallon
Dried hibiscus leaves can be found in many types of stores and may also be called sorrel, or "Jamiaca" in Latin American markets. You can also look for hibiscus tea bags in the regular boxed tea section of the grocery store (and if you've ever had lemon zinger tea, the main ingredient is hibiscus)
1/4 cup dried hibiscus leaves
1 quart water boiled
- Place hibiscus in a heat proof glass, metal or ceramic container. Pour boiling water over it and steep for 30 minutes or longer.
- Strain out hibiscus flowers and place tea in a 1/2 gallon container. Fill to the top with cold water. Refrigerate and enjoy for up to a week.
note: if you can't bare throwing away these beautiful flowers after making tea, try candying them in boiled honey or sugar syrup and pour them over plantains or a cool chia pudding...or maybe they would be good sautéed with a little garlic and used as a garnish for fish...just a thought, if you try it, let me know if it works!
Bubbly Fruit Spritz with Sacred Basil
makes 4 - 8oz drinks
This drink is super fun and refreshing for summer! I was inspired years ago by seeing tons of fun drinks in chinatown, so I found some sacred basil seeds and started making my own. I especially love them in bubbly seltzer drinks!
1 liter seltzer
1/4 cup Frozen or fresh fruit of your choice
other flavor additions such as a wedge of lime, sprig of mint, or a splash of juice....
2 teaspoons sacred basil seeds
1 cup water (to hydrate the seeds)
- Place basil seed in a jar with 1 cup of water. Screw on the top and shake well. Shake again until the seeds start to plump, so they don't stick together. If you don't have a lid, just stir well. Let sit for 10 minutes.
- Place ice in four glasses. Top with seltzer, fruit and other flavorings of your choice.
- Spoon plump basil seeds into the glasses and give a stir. Enjoy!
Frozen fruit pulps from Latino grocery stores, frozen section (or use fresh/frozen fruit if you can't find these). In the New Haven, CT area: C-Town in Fair Haven or The Hill (not far from the train station) neighborhoods, or ShopRite in West Haven or Hamden...and check other small independent markets in the freezer section.
Sacred Basil Seeds: these go by many names and may also be listed as sweet basil seed. Upon further searching, it seems that these seeds may actually be different than Holly Basil/Tulsi so the medicinal benefits are different, but they are still good for you. Here is some basic info, but if you want to use any of these things for medical purposes, please talk to a naturopathic doctor, don't just use info you find online. Available in most Asian markets. In the New Haven, CT area: Million Asian Market - Orange St 9th Sq, Downtown, Hong Kong Market - Whitney Ave near Audubon and Trumbull streets, Oriental Pantry - Orange St in East Rock neighborhood (they also have amazing bi bim bap rice bowl, and other prepared foods! Say hi to Ms. Kim for me!) Shang Hai Fish Market (this is also half Caribbean market) on Whalley ave across from Edge of the Woods health food store. Bharat Bazaar - Fabulous Indian Market on the Post Road in Orange, CT just past Target and next to the GoodWill.
Chia Seeds: Do you remember Chia Pets? Yup, this is the same seed...but turns out it's super good for you, and packed with omega3 oils which are great for brain health and their also supposed to help with high cholesterol (feel free to google this...) I find that the two cheapest places to buy chia seeds are 1. in bulk from a health food store, or 2. at a discount store with a good food section such as Ocean State Job Lot or Tj Maxx/Marshalls...yes I know this sounds crazy, but the difference in price can be around $4 or $5 dollars, so it's significant. Be sure to shake or stir these a number of times when they first hit the water or they will stick together in one gloppy clump.
Please share your tips or favorite sugar free summer drinks
(or your favorite market tips) below!