Whether before, during, or after a hike, honey lemon tea is the king of natural energy drinks for your entire family! It is amazing for hiking, and here’s why: it all begins with… tea.
Brewing Tea For Children
When preparing tea for children remember that most kids prefer a milder brew than adults do. Either steep the tea for a shorter amount of time, or dilute the brew using boiled water. Additionally, remember not to serve HOT tea to your children! Let the tea cool to a temperature of 77 – 95 F (25 – 35 C).
The Tea in Honey Lemon Tea
If you’re a tea drinker, you are not alone. Tea is the second most consumed beverage in the world (the first is water). On the other hand, if tea is not your thing, consider reconsidering: there are over 3,000 varieties of tea in the world to choose from, so maybe there is one that you will like? Tea has many positive health effects including lowering the risk of hart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Tea is linked to improvements in dental and bone health. It contains polyphenols, which have anti-inflammatory, anti-arteriosclerotic, and anti-oxidant properties. Records indicate that as far back as the 17th century BC!! the Chinese have been using tea for its medicinal properties[i], and surely you have heard about the positive effects of herbal infusions (even though they are not ‘teas’ by definition).
Tea is also an excellent thirst quencher. Nutritionist Dr. Carrie Ruxton, a co-author of a study on tea published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition[ii] reported in the BBC:
“Drinking tea is actually better for you than drinking water. Water is essentially replacing fluid. Tea replaces fluids and contains antioxidants so it’s got two things going for it.“
Staying hydrated is a challenge when hiking and drinking tea is a great thirst quencher, perhaps even better than water alone. And contrary to common stereotypes, you can give tea to your children; however, if you’re not convinced you can use herbal infusions instead – peppermint or chamomile are great substitutes to green or black tea. The result will be fantastic no matter which way you go (black, green, or herbal).
At TheHikingChild we love honey and so should you. In fact, we will soon be posting a separate article dedicated to the subject of honey, because even though it’s one of nature’s wonder products, not all honey is created equal. In this article we are referring to nothing but the most natural, organic honey. Y.S. Eco Bee Farms is one example of raw, unpasteurized honey that has no added sugar, but your local bee keeper is an even better source. Such honey possesses antimicrobial, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties; in fact, because of its bactericidal properties honey has been used as a topical antibiotic by as far back as the Egyptians. This is all great, but what does honey have to do with TheHikingChild?
If you’ve tasted honey you know that it is very sweet, and sweet = energy. However, even though it tastes very sweet, honey has a lower calorie content than table sugar by as much as 33 percent! This means you get sweet flavor with significantly less empty calories than you get with sugar. On top of that the good quality honeys have a high level of fructose, which translates to a low glycemic index (GI). Without getting into the science this means that energy stored in honey is released much more slowly than energy that is stored in other sugars. This is very useful to hikers that require energy over a long period of time. Drinking tea with sugar (or any other sugary drink) gives an energy spike that is followed by an energy downer. Honey does not do that! It keeps supplying you with energy slowly over time until the energy is simply used up. So a drink of tea mixed with honey delivers hydration, energy, and an overall health ‘punch’. All of this completely naturally, of course.
Honey And Tea Is What You Need… But Where’s The Lemon In That?
This is like an infomercial that never ends. You get not one, not two, but at least three!, yes three! benefits of drinking tea with honey. But just when you thought you’ve seen it all… Wait! There’s more!! We’re adding lemon!
Vitamin C and relief of the common cold are well known benefits of drinking lemon juice, but there are many more that you may not be aware of. Lemon juice treats rheumatism and arthritis, helps promote digestion and relieve constipation, heals corns, relieves respiratory problems, and it can even be used as a foot relaxant after a difficult hike. It is also a natural source of electrolytes such as calcium, potassium and magnesium, which are critical in keeping our body mineralized and moving – btw. electrolytes are also added to sports drinks, but unfortunately so is a lot of other ‘junk’. This is all dandy, but there is one more benefit of lemon juice that everyone forgets to mention: flavor! Honey tea tastes good, but when you squeeze lemon into the mix it simply tastes outstanding. There is nothing better than sitting down after a few hours of cool weather hiking and sipping a cup of warm honey lemon tea. On a hot day, try honey lemon iced tea – the same tea, just on ice. It hydrates you, energizes you, provides nutrients, and keeps your family going strong for hours.
How To Prepare Honey Lemon Tea
It’s not rocket science, but there are a few steps to care about when preparing honey lemon tea. First, choose your favorite tea and brew it in a teapot according to instructions:
- Black or herbal teas: Brew at 2120 F (1000 C) for about 3 – 4 minutes.
- Green teas: Brew at 1700 F (760 C) for 1 – 3 minutes depending on the tea variety.
- With all teas it is good to preheat the teapot, but this is especially true with green tea: pour in a little boiling water into the teapot, stir it around, and empty immediately before the brew.
- Use water with a low mineral content if possible. Ideally pre-treat your water with a carbon filter, such as a Brita water filter.
- Let the water ‘bubble’ in the kettle for a little bit. The bubbles are releasing carbon and lowering the acidity of the water.
- For both black and green teas: Remember to remove the tealeaves from the brew after the required amount of time, otherwise the tea will be too strong and bitter. You can make this simple by using a proper teapot such as this Bodum, or a neat little device like this OXO tea infuser (the twist feature is much better than the standard ‘clamp’ solution, which never seals properly). If you have a tendency to forget about your brew, set your kitchen timer as a reminder (you just have to remember to do so :-).
- The amount of tealeaves depends on the specific tea variety, but a good measure is slightly more than 1 teaspoon of leaves for every 8 fluid ounces (240ml) of liquid.
- And of course, use a high quality loose-leaf tea whenever possible.
As for the honey, unfortunately when hiking we need to do a little ‘trade-off’. Honey does not do well in temperatures above 1070 F (420 C). Its molecular properties change above this temperature, and it looses many of its medicinal properties. However, if it’s cold outside we want to take ‘hot’ tea on our hike, and unfortunately, even the best vacuum bottles loose their heat over time. In result, we need to prepare a ‘hot’ brew in the morning in order to drink a slightly cooler tea several hours later. But rather than carry honey with us – although it is possible for those determined enought – we simply stir the honey into the tea before leaving the house. We loose some of honey’s medicinal properties but we still get the energy benefits of using honey over sugar, and the whole thing just tastes better.
Once the honey and tea are mixed take half a fresh lemon and ‘wing-it’, just give it a squeeze. Remove any pits and you’re done. Transfer the tea to a vacuum flask and go brave the elements.
Honey Lemon Iced Tea
While hot honey lemon tea is great for cold days, in the summer honey lemon iced tea is a refreshing treat that is a thousand times healthier than consumer brands of ‘iced tea’. To prepare, repeat the same procedure as above but make a few small adjustments:
- First, we no longer need ‘hot’ tea, so avoid stirring in the honey until the tea temperature is at the desired 1070 F (420 C) or lower. This will preserve all the beneficial properties of the honey.
- Once the tea is mixed with honey and lemon, place it in the refrigerator overnight to let it cool gradually. In the morning, transfer the tea into a vacuum flask and add ice cubes.
- You can compensate for the ice cubes by brewing the tea a little stronger than you would otherwise, and adding a tad more honey. This way the tea will not taste ‘watered-down’ after the ice melts.
That’s it! You’ve got a wicked hiking energy drink for the entire family that’s got way fewer empty calories than store-shelf iced tea or sports energy drinks, and has many healthy properties that the others can only dream about.
[i] Mary Lou Heiss; Robert J Heiss; The Story of Tea: A Cultural History and Drinking Guide. March 23, 2011. Random House. ISBN 978-1-60774-172-5.
[ii] Black tea – helpful or harmful? A review of the evidence. CHS Ruxton; EJ Gardner; AR Leeds; European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2007) 61, 3-18, dol:10/1038sj.ejcn.1602489; published online July 19, 2006