Pimp My Ice Water!
June 7, 2010 3:26 PM   Subscribe

I have an infusion pitcher and I am not afraid to use it! But I need ideas and some basic technicals about timing and storage. Inspired by this question about popsicles, I want to make refreshing, astonishingly creative, non-sugary, home-made waters to replace my resource and money-intensive diet sodas. Iced tea is so ho hum. Help me develop a passion for water again.

I have had luck with cucumber lemon infused water and grapefruit infused water with a dash of bitters and a teaspoon of Splenda. But I need new ideas.

I am diabetic, so I do not want sugar or honey. Besides, I do not like the way sugary drinks finish as they leave my mouth rather smackey and wanting more sugary drinks.

I also would like advice on optimum infusion times for various ingredients. How long can these waters keep in and out of the fridge? Yeah I could go buy a book, but what fun would that be? Besides the idea is to be frugal and tasty here.

Thanks! I'll toast to you!
posted by cross_impact to Food & Drink (16 answers total) 46 users marked this as a favorite
Never thought about this, but I would think ginger would work well as well as lemongrass.
posted by TheBones at 3:46 PM on June 7, 2010

I don't know much about infusing water with anything (other than peaches. yum. peachy water), but have you tried different kinds of tea? Rooibos makes for some delicious cold "flavored water", as does lapsang souchong. I'm drinking a tall glass of icy rooibos witha touch of splenda as we speak (though now I want to do a rooibos/peach blend!).

Oh! I just remembered something else I really like (that I haven't had since last summer). Get some ground sumac, soak, strain and add some sweetener. It's sour and delicious.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 3:47 PM on June 7, 2010

Best answer: 1. Hibiscus flowers (only if you don't care about stains or your pitcher is made of glass)! You can find them in many ethnic shops (sometimes they're called 'jamaica') Google 'agua de jamaica' for some recipes if you want to add citrus or spices.

Most of the recipes are going to be sugary, because the flowers are so tart and the tea is usually brewed so strong (heat rather than cold-infused). I have made much less sugary aguas that tasted fine.

I think you could come up with a pretty-colored, less intense infusion that wouldn't need sweetening. Just use less hibiscus and cold water. Experiment with the amount/length of steeping time - everyone has different tastes when it comes to tartness.

2. Pineapple and mint-infused water. Chop up about 1/4 of a fresh pineapple, add to the water with a big handful of fresh mint. Use less pineapple if you want less sugar.

3. Lavender and rose petals, with maybe a little lemon. So good. Just make sure you get them from an organic source (Mountain Rose Herbs is my go-to for things like this), and start with only a little if you're not a fan of flowery tastes.
posted by Knicke at 3:47 PM on June 7, 2010 [3 favorites]

After tasting a West-African lemon ginger drink in New Orleans last November, I've been looking around for a good recipe, and this is the closest I've found -- but without the peppercorns. It does have a tbsp of sugar, but without the peppercorns you could easily omit it, or use Splenda. This makes a concentrate that you can store in the fridge. I sometimes freeze the concentrate in ice-cube trays, so that I can use a cube or two per glass of water.

A variant of this drink that I make is by just adding ginger slices and lime in a pitcher of water with a tsp of raw sugar. This will obviously have a milder taste than the concentrate.
posted by prenominal at 4:18 PM on June 7, 2010

Best answer: Iced (or even just chilled) Korean roasted barley tea (boricha) is amazing. It's a hot infusion, though. Slightly nutty, faintly sweet taste. Delightful.
posted by scruss at 4:29 PM on June 7, 2010 [3 favorites]

Add peeled, seeded & chopped cucumber to your ice water.
posted by maloon at 4:52 PM on June 7, 2010

In the summer we make sun tea by the gallon. I like either all green tea or about four green bags to one black. I get the green tea bags from the Chinese grocery for about $3 for a box of 200 or so bags (really). It's really good.

If you've never had iced green tea (other than the disgusting syrupy crap you get in bottles at the grocery store or elsewhere) you really should try it. I drink it with no sweetener - it's sweet enough as-is.
posted by fritley at 5:05 PM on June 7, 2010

Lots of mint turns out pretty well.
posted by pemberkins at 5:31 PM on June 7, 2010

Best answer: Basil! Definitely! If your initial reaction is "eh, weird," you should still try it. It's amazing. If you like it, try it with lime, cucumber or strawberries.
posted by showbiz_liz at 5:51 PM on June 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

My wife is diabetic, and I greatly enjoy mixing her sugar free Monin flavor syrups with a seltzer water. The Monin syrups aren't cheap though, so it's not an especially budget conscious suggestion.
posted by COD at 6:23 PM on June 7, 2010

Best answer: I'll second roasted barley tea*. Fantastic hot or iced, but don't buy it as tea or you'll pay some ridiculous price like $45 a pound. Buy some whole unhulled barley (Whole Foods has it for a couple bucks a pound, lots of others have it in the bulk nuts and grains aisle.) Roast it to a very dark brown in a giant pan, store airtight and in the dark. Add about 1/2 to 3/4 of a cup of the roast barley to a gallon jug of water and keep it in the fridge. Refill with water as you use it. Replace the barley when it starts getting weak. (Unlike real leaf tea it's almost impossible to over steep it, it will not get bitter.)

Otherwise a bit of mint, or a couple thin slices of kiwi, peach, or pear.

* Some Googling help: It's called mugicha in Japanese, boricha in Korean.
posted by Ookseer at 9:02 PM on June 7, 2010

Your profile says you're in Houston. If that's correct, you've got a H-Mart in town. You'll be able to find lots of great stuff there (including big bags of pre-roasted barley and corn for cheap).
Also, the tea aisle is amazing. If it's anything like the one near me, it has tons of different and interesting things you can make infusions with.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 9:46 PM on June 7, 2010

Response by poster: Looks like I am off to market to find unhulled barley, hibiscus, mint, and other goodies! Keep it coming!

I am mostly interested in using cold water and both steeping and storing at room temperature. What are the safety spoilage rules for that? Is that practical? Is sunlight required?
posted by cross_impact at 5:50 AM on June 8, 2010

Pineapple and Ginger. Blend and pour through a strainer.
Boiled Mint with a tablespoon of black tea. This is a Middle Eastern staple.
Boiled Ginger tea.
Verbena and Lemon.
posted by xammerboy at 8:58 AM on June 8, 2010

In Houston you may be able to find Nile Valley Hibiscus Mint Tea, which I enjoy without sugar. It doesn't actually contain anything but hibiscus and mint (no tea), so I'm sure you can replicate it. I brew in hot water, then add to ice.

Another refreshing drink: orange slices in water. Not exactly low in sugar, but same with a few chunks of watermelon.

I know you wanted to make it yourself, but I've really fallen in love with TOPO CHICO, mexican mineral water. It's inexpensive, if you buy a case, and vital for getting through 100+ degree days. I don't think its widely distributed outside of Texas, so enjoy it while you're here. I'm already anxious about moving away. Plus it's the vital ingredient my Austin Gin Fizz: 1 jigger gin, 1 quarter lime, squeezed + lime slice for garnish, Topo Chico, tall glass with ice. Pour gin over ice, squeeze lime, fill with very cold topo chico, garnish.
posted by fontophilic at 8:23 AM on June 9, 2010

Sounds like you're ready to discover Agua Fresca, which translates to "Fresh Water". Here's a recipe from a quality food blog, Smitten Kitchen.


Typically, agua frescas can skew sweet, but of course you can make them to your taste. Google 'agua fresca' or 'agua fresca recipes' and you'll find plenty of inspiration.
posted by skechada at 2:29 PM on June 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

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