Autumn Scents 2016: Fall Fragrance Review

It’s that time of year again — the days are getting shorter. The air is getting cooler. And Glade’s Autumn Collection is in stores! Gah, how can I like Glade so much? I used to … I won’t say “hate” but … not like Glade. Now I feel a little spark of happy every time I start seeing Glade’s fall fragrances in the stores. 

Summer and spring fragrances don’t quite do that to me. (I usually just open a window.) Even the winter and holiday scents aren’t as magical to me as the autumn collection. And I still love pure essential oils. So how can I like Glade’s Aumun Collection so much?

Overall Glade has improved over the years. Many of their scents smell better (at least to my nose), they’ve stopped using a lot of harmful ingredients, and they’ve increased how much information they reveal about ingredients and specific fragrance components. While some companies just say “fragrance” as an ingredient, Glade has a special website that goes into detail on many fragrances as well as other ingredients and other SC Johnson products. If you happen to have a sensitivity to “cinnamyl alcohol” you can find out if it’s in the Spiced Apple Magic scent. That’s a good thing. (By the way many of these fragrance components are the same as those found in natural scents.)

The 2016 Fall collection is scaled back from the five(!) fragrances of the past few years. There are three (maybe four*) that I’ve seen so far.

Autumnal classics are covered with apple and pumpkin pie plus there’s a third enticing mood-setter for chilly days.

They are:

Spiced Apple Magic – classic fall spiced apple fragrance with a nice balance of fruit and spice. It’s doesn’t smell as strongly of cinnamon as the Apple cinnamon fragrance that’s available year round. Along with cinnamon  I can smell cloves, and I can really smell the apple. Spiced Apple Magic is that cup of hot spiced cider as you come in from the chill.

Rich Pumpkin Dream – classic pumpkin pie scent with a little sweetness, creamy caramel, and spice. This one smells yummy. Last year’s Pumpkin Pit Stop smelled like pumpkin pie mixed with the lingering aromas of last night’s experimental dinner. I swear I could smell something like fenugreek seed and maybe a hint of cumin last year, but this year I smell something cardamom and ginger. I definitely prefer this year’s.

Wondrous Autumn Nights – It’s like standing outside on a crisp autumn evening while wearing your love’s big cozy sweater or wrapped in his clean warm blanket. You can still smell a little soap. A breeze tickles your face. His sweet, yet unmistakably masculine cologne lingers on the warm threads as you enjoy the fallen leaves. The last bits of autumn herbs and trees sway gently. There’s probably a pine tree not far, but you can’t see it where you’re standing. Acorns plunk to the ground. A branch snaps. There’s a sliver of a glow on the horizon. The rest of the sky is a shade of deep blue that will soon give way to total nightfall and twinkling stars. When you step inside, the Wondrous Autumn Nights candle is lit and beside it a love note propped against your favorite book. He had to leave on a secret mission. He’ll be back soon. Like really super soon. He probably just left to get ice cream. And anyway you have a secret mission of your own. He also left you a slice of pumpkin pie with a dollop of whipped cream and a cup of hot apple cider. Oh, wait. Where was I? Yeah… 

And more.

*There also appears to be a fourth option at some locations called Rich Golden Spell. It’s available as a room spray and only available at Target as far as I can tell. It’s not even on the Glade website! Some folks say it’s just a repackaged version their popular scent  Cashmere Woods (which started as a seasonal scent, so go figure). I have Cashmere Woods wax melts, and based on that I’d say they are, at least, very similar. But I love the packaging and design of the Autumn Collection, so it’s nice just for that.

Now appearing as:

The sprays this year are a little diffferent. They’re mostly available as automatic-spray refills and not stand-alone cans. I don’t have an automatic room sprayer and don’t plan on buying one right now. The standalone spray is no longer sold as a Premium room spray, but instead sold in the smaller, standard Glade spray cans. That part is not necessarily bad. The regular sprays cost only about a buck ($1). (Premium room sprays were about $3.) But Spiced Apple Magic and Rich Golden Spell (if you can find it) are the only ones that I’ve seen as a room spray. I’d love a spray of Wondrous Autumn Nights and have enjoyed the pumpkin spray previous years.

Glade has also changed some other ways the fragrances are sold this year. Two of the autumn scents are offered as a solid air freshener — Spiced Apple Magic and Rich Pumpkin Dream. I think this is the first year I’ve seen Glade’s Autumn scents in solid form. I don’t often use solid air fresheners except in the little bathroom with the cat litter boxes. I’ll try these next.

All three scents are available as candles, plug-ins, and supposedly wax melts too. But I can find find wax melts of only Spiced Apple Magic and Rich Pumpkin Dream. Wondrous Autumn Nights is missing, so I suspect maybe there is only one store chain that may carry it as part of an exclusive agreement. It will probably sell out. I think I would love that as a wax melt. Oh, Glade. Why do you do this?

(I’ll update this with more photos later.)


Zote Soap in English

The Zote Soap website has, at least temporarily, removed the English portion of it’s website. It’s website is here at:

Since I think it’s super helpful to have some of this information in English. I’m posting the translated version of a few pages to this page.

Note that the text here is as-translated by my browser (for now), so there are mistakes — lots of ’em. Some of them are even pretty funny. Helpful tip, the word zote in Spanish can be translated to English to mean dim, stupid, or dunce. So when you see “dunce” in the translation, below, assume it means Zote. I’m leaving all the dunces there for now just because. Where ZOTE was typed in all-caps, the translation left the word ZOTE in tact. I doubt anybody actually named Zote “stupid” so I’m going to assume they meant “simple.” It is a simple, basic, true soap. But who knows. I’ll try to do some research.

Hopefully you get the gist of the translations. If you have any questions just ask. I’ll do my best to answer. I still like Zote soap and find it in stores here in the Washington DC area. In fact, I find it in even more stores than when I wrote my original Bar Fight: Laundry Bar Soap post.

The partent company of Zote is here:



It is recommended to wash clothes people sensitive skin being of natural origin .


ZOTE is a soap pure Laundry, unburdened made based on coconut oil and beef tallow, containing optical brighteners, whose shape and size are ideal for hand washing.

In the past, in rural areas of Mexico, it was common to see women washing their clothes with dunce in rivers, on special boards or rocks, or in bowls in their homes;because since Crown it launched in 1970, it became a favorite of Mexican housewives to remove stubborn stains and wash delicates products.

In the beginning, soap ZOTE was manufactured with an almost manual process. Today, we have the most modern equipment and the latest technology for the manufacture of this and all our products; but we retain the original formula that led to ZOTE to be the market leader in Mexico.


The basic ingredients of natural origin used in the manufacture of dunce are the same used for toilet soaps; therefore, it is not abrasive ingredients that make ZOTEideal for washing delicate items that may be damaged in the washing machine (as sweaters, woven clothing and underwear), preserving them in good condition product and extending the life of the same. For this feature, many used to wash the clothes of people with sensitive skin or baby clothes.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, has great cleansing properties, making it ideal for prewash collars and cuffs of shirts and to remove stubborn stains.

Another of the distinctive features of ZOTE is her perfume: the essential oil of citronella plant has a pleasant smell like lemon; Thanks to this ingredient, clothes washed with ZOTE retains a fresh and pleasant smell for several days.



The main raw materials are tallow and coconut oil, they are neutralized with caustic soda to the saponification process, contains salt (sodium chloride), glycerol, bleach fragrance optical and dye, in the case of ZOTE pink and ZOTE blue. optical brightener soap ZOTE contains an optical whitening bleach discolor clothes without clothes. Optical brighteners are compounds that provide brilliance to clothing, giving a visible blue color to the garment washed; his work is seen in white clothes. WHAT TO DO IF SWALLOWED If swallowed (which is very difficult to be solid) can cause nausea or vomiting. It has no toxicity problems. WHAT TO DO IN CASE OF EYE CONTACT In case of contact with eyes should be rinsed with plenty of water. 



You can wash your clothes in the sink or laundry to adjust. Thoroughly wet the garment and scrub it with soap dunce until foaming.

Rinse with plenty of water until the soap is gone. If desired, you can add softener Carisma .
Hang up and let dry as it does regularly. In case of woven garments it is recommended to dry on a flat surface on a towel.


Carve your laundry with dunce before putting it in the washing machine, for prewash collars, cuffs and stubborn stains, ensuring superior cleaning.




To prepare soap liquid ZOTE there are two simple ways:

• In a bowl with hot water of more than 2 liters, let soak a bar of soap ZOTE 200 g overnight.
In the morning you can use the solution water with soap for hand washing or washing machine.

• in a bowl add a soap ZOTE 200 g of any color and cover with about 2 liters of water,
bring to boil on the stove, stir occasionally until a thick solution. REMOVING TOUGH STAINS without chlorine Apply the soap mixture ZOTE boiled still hot and dry directly on the stain of the garment. Put the garment in the sun until the soap hardens and pull it off; the stain will be attached to it. The remaining solution may be used at other times, following the same procedure.



Add the grated soap like dunce of any presentation to the washer from the start of the wash cycle with detergent. Upon normal wash cycles, you will realize that there will be more control foam and your clothes are whiter. To peel, you use a common knife or a cheese grater.


Add a piece of soap ZOTE inside a sock or cloth bag sealed, put it in the washing machine in the last wash cycle and rinse.



Often our customers write to us and tell their stories, and among the most common are: • WASH HAIR AND BODY For its high content of fatty acids, its low level of free soda and being a pure soap can be used for washing the hair and body. • as fishing bait it is known that the dunce pink works well for fishing for catfish. The scent of citronella seems to attract the fish. • REPAIR tube or pipe If you make a mixture of soap dunce with sugar, you can make temporary repairs to cracks or leaks in pipes. • REPELLENT MOSQUITOS the aroma of citronella is known to drive away mosquitoes. • Insecticide for pests of plants disappear, should boil water and soap ZOTE white, let it cool and empty in a sprinkler with sprinkler. • sCULPTURES with instruments to sculpt, you can make a sculpture with a pill soap dunce . If you try, we recommend you do when soap is cool, because once hardened it will be harder to handle. • perfuming DRAWER If you want to perfume your drawers, you can put a piece of dunce in a small cloth bag in his drawer. his coffin will be perfumed and if it comes to a drawer where he keeps clothes, notice how your clothes give off a scent of freshly laundered. > Back to our website


Can I bathe with dunce?

Many people in Mexico bathe dunce . Soap ZOTE is made on the same basis a soap and free alkalinity of both is very low, so they fulfill similar functions. However, unlike a soap, ZOTE contains additives that make it ideal for clothes care. Can I wash BABY CLOTHES? Because the formulation ZOTE has very low alkalinity, it contains salts they could massively deposited on clothing and has no toxicity problems, so it can be used to wash the baby ‘s clothes. If you have any questions, ask your doctor. WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN WHITE dunce, PINK AND BLUE? Compounds ZOTE white, pink and blue are the same, the only difference is the dye containing the latter. In northern Mexico, the pink soaps dominate the market; while the southern population prefers white soap. So it is a matter of personal taste. DOES THE DYE ZOTE PINK AND dunce BLUE can stain clothing? The dye containing ZOTE pink and ZOTE AZUL not stain clothes under normal washing conditions. To wash MY CLOTHES WITH ZOTE CAN DESPINTARLA? the ingredient ZOTE to launder clothing is known as optical brightener , its function is to reflect light so that white look brighter. As it is a non – chlorine bleach not discolor clothing. WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A TOILET SOAP NORMAL AND A dunce? The only difference is that ZOTE contains more moisture, and toilet soap may contain an additive that highlight some quality . (Antibacterial for example)

jump, Jump, JUMP!

Today’s prompt from WordPress Daily Prompts is, Jump!

Just jump right in.

I think I will.

Jump for joy.

Dance a jig.

Avoid the bridge.

Take a leap of faith.

And jump. Jump. Jump!


I thought I’d take another crack at WordPress Daily Prompts. They are now doing single-word daily prompts. Today’s word is “stylish.”

A while back they had prompts that entailed more of a scenario — such as to write about “cats, towels, and soup” or “howl at the moon.” Now blog

I liked those because I’ve always found it to be somewhat of a challenge and inspiration to fit creativity within a set parameter and see what can come of it. 

So maybe I’m overly challenged by a one-word prompt. I guess one word is kind of specific, but it also seems so wide open too. It’s like saying, “write whatever you want, but make sure you are inspired by the word ‘stylish.'”

I almost feel like I could just open a dictionary with my eyes closed and point. So many options then. I’m one of those don’t-give-me-too-many-options people. I’ll have a harder time making up my mind.

Plus I’d probably open my dictionary to “Napierian logarithm.” Just try working that into a blog post. 

I could also go with “napoleon boots” which I saw nearby in the dictionary since I’m typing the letter N and A into a online version. (N and A seemed pretty middle-of-the-road.) Boots can be stylish, right?

Maybe my problem is that I see the word “stylish” and I think of clothes or fashion. I generally feel like I have no style as far as clothing goes. If it fits. If it isn’t inappropriate for where I’m going. If it isn’t uncomfortable. That’s my style (mixed with a few geeky T-shirts on weekends). Okay, done. 

But then my brain kicks in and says,”style doesn’t have to have anything to do with clothing.” There is writing style. Parenting style. Styles of art. Learning style. Styles of baskets. Conversation. Gah!

But the word is Stylish. Can one be a stylish writer? Maybe. There are stylish social trends and trains of thought. A stylish parent? I’m not sure that I’d want to be one of those. I just want to be good. I think.

See, can’t make up my mind. Maybe I should stick with Napoleon boots. They would have been perfect for Talk Like a Pirate Day on September 19.

10 Pounds

I got on the scale this morning because I do that from time to time. The scale said that I’d lost 10 pounds. I did a double take. I little spark of joy popped up from somewhere in my middle.

I mean, I’ve been trying to watch what I eat and get more exercise. But recently I’d been holding steady except for a pound here and there. I swear just last week, I weighed 10 pounds more. My stomach was a little touchy yesterday, so maybe it made a difference. And I haven’t been keeping as well hydrated! So maybe I only lost some water weight.

That’s when I noticed my pants on the floor next to the scale. Only not just next-to but also partly under one corner of the scale. The scale was a tiny bit crooked and cushioned by my pants. I’d accidentally overlapped a bit when I slid the scale out to use it.

I moved my pants. I gained nine pounds back. So I lost a total of one pound. Yay? Dave heard me complain from the bathroom and said, “towel rack, Dad.” Recalling an episode of the Simpsons where Homer is weighing himself and part of his belly was propped on the towel rack giving him a false reading on his bathroom scale. 

Towel rack. Pants. Sigh. 

One pound. Um. Woohoo! 

Tea for Tuesday: Just Peachy II

This is part II of my journey to finding a good, traditional, southern, peach tea. I made the real stuff, here, using Lipton or Luzianne tea and real peaches. But in this post I investigate using only flavored tea bags to make peach tea.

In my search, I purchased gobs of peach-flavored tea bags thinking that one of them would yield enough peachy tea flavor to make a good, classic peach tea without harming any fruit in the process.

Sadly, I was unsuccessful. Mostly.

You’d think:

Tea + peach = peach tea. No problem, right? It didn’t exactly turn out that way, though many of teas yielded something yummy. And they all call themselves peach and are tea. Or are they?

The rundown of suspects:

Bigelow, Perfect Peach

Lipton, White Mangosteen Peach

Celestial Seasonings, Country Peach Passion

Lipton, Peach Mango

Celestial Seasonings, Sleepytime Peach

Bigelow, Green Tea with Peach

English Tea Shop, Ginger Peach Tea

I’ve also tried some loose-leaf teas, but I’ll stick to tea bags for this blog post.

Bigelow, Perfect Peach

I should have known this wouldn’t taste like classic peach tea from the fact that the label said “herbal.” It has no actual tea leaves. So it lacks tea flavor. It has a nice peach aroma and some peach flavor, but it’s mixed with cinnamon flavor too. It claims to taste like peach pie. It might, if you use a lot of cinnamon in your peach pie. That said, it is pretty yummy. It is a nice alternative to the classic apples and cinnamon tea. I can see myself drinking more of this as the days get cooler this fall. So yum, but not classic peach-tea yum.

Lipton, White Mangosteen Peach

It’s like they got it right, but then they said, “wait, no. Instead of  traditional tea-flavored peach tea we’re going to swap out the black tea leaves and replace them with white tea leaves. Won’t that be nice?”

Wait. What?! Black leaves matter! (Did I just go there?)  And on top of it, I just noticed that it’s a green tea, yet they call it white. They need to get their colors correct. I have nothing against white or green tea, and this actually has a really pleasant peach taste. I’m not sure what a mangosteen is (maybe it’s what’s white), but it doesn’t mess up the peach. It can stay. I just miss the classic tea flavor it might have had if it used black tea leaves. That said, I like it, and I’m on my second box. That’s saying something. I just have to ignore the fact that it’s not the tea I was looking for.

Celestial Seasonings, Country Peach Passion

I knew going into this one that there would be no tea flavor because Celestial Seasonings is an herbal tea (or tisane) company. I was hoping for a solid, country peach flavor though. This one tastes mostly fruity to me. Fruity and herbal with some peach flavor. That’s about it.

Lipton, Peach Mango

This has peach flavor. And it’s not bad. It also has mango flavor and a good bit of hibiscus. I like mango and hibiscus, so I like this one. But it turns out it is also an herbal tea, so it doesn’t actually taste like the tea part of peach tea. I may or may not have known this when I purchased it.

Celestial Seasonings, Sleepytime Peach

I knew this one didn’t contain any tea leaves. It’s an herbal Sleepytime tea, so no caffeine. I was hoping for more peach flavor. I probably knew it wouldn’t have much, but it was on sale, and I was deeply entrenched in this peach-tea obsession. I was bad. It’s more herbal tasting with spearmint and lemongrass and a little bit fruity. It’s like drinking Sleepytime tea right after you took a bite of a peach, but you already finished eating the peach. It’s not a bad bedtime tea (if you need to use it up).

Bigelow, Green Tea with Peach 

This one has some of the same problems that the White Mangosteen Peach tea has. I don’t get a classic peach tea flavor because it uses green tea instead of black. That said, it has a pretty good overall flavor. It somehow manages to taste like peach and pit fruit without tasting especially fruity. I like it. It’s it tastes like green tea with peach (so the name is super fitting), but it doesn’t taste like a traditional southern peach tea either.

English Tea Shop, Ginger Peach Tea

I actually purchased this one at a Mashalls (or T.J. Maxx), so who knows if I’ll ever be able to find it again. But I had to try it. It was only about $4 for 60 tea bags. And it turned out to be pretty darn yummy. It actually uses black tea leaves so it tastes like there’s traditional tea in it. It has a nice peach aroma and some of that comes through in each sip. This would be quite a win … except that it also has ginger in it. It’s fairly similar to Republic of Tea’s Ginger Peach Longevity Tea. I’ve purchased that one several times too, and it is very good even though the ginger makes it a gingery peach tea instead of just peachy. So it’s almost classic peach tea! But not quite. Another one so close in my search for classic peach tea using only tea bags.

A Little Success

So after sampling each individual tea, I tried mixing them all together and adding an extra bag or two of classic black tea (because clearly that’s part of the equation) and voila a pretty darn good tea! I’d leave out the Sleepytime tea because it’s a bit too herbal. But the others resulted in something quite good. The cinnamon and ginger were softened by all the other stuff, so those flavors became a nice accent flavor while the peach and tea flavors shined through. Because normally I don’t add 7 or 8 tea bags to a cup when I make tea, I find I can simplify this combo by using a traditional black tea like Lipton or Luzianne plus Lipton’s Peach Mango or White Mangosteen Peach. Simple. And yummy. A bag of  Ginger Peach or Perfect Peach add a nice twist of spice when I want something different. Sweeten to taste and enjoy!

Copyright 2016 Debora Kapke (but feel free to share as long as you link back and give credit).

Tea for Tuesday on a Thursday – Just Peachy I

Along with classic iced tea and sweet tea, I especially love a good peach tea. So began a search for a great peach tea that I could make at home.

There are three major roads to peach tea.

1. Scratch recipe with real tea and fruit.
2. Peach-flavored tea leaves in tea bags or loose.
3. Instant, peach tea powder or liquid drops.

Today’s blog covers peach tea from scratch. There are still some excellent peaches to be found. Get ’em while you can!

Peach Tea from scratch. 

The process is fairly simple. This makes about 3 cups of peach iced tea. It partly depends on how juicy your peaches are. (Scale up the recipe for more tea.)

1.) Make 2 cups of iced tea concentrate. My process is here. Let the tea cool some while you work on the peaches.

2.) Peaches! Start with 3 cups of cut up juicy ripe peaches. (Cut out any bruises.) This is a great way to use up super ripe peaches.

3.) Finely chop peaches in a food processor or blender.

4.) Add about a half tablespoon of lemon juice to the peaches as you blend. This perks up the taste and helps keep the peaches from oxidizing (turning brown) too quickly. (I know the tea is brown, but …)

5.) Strain the blended peaches. If you like it pulpy, use a mesh strainer with larger holes. If you hate chunks and pulpy bits, then use a fine mesh strainer or a even strain a second time through a coffee filter (it will drip through slowly though). The leftover peach pulp can be used for frozen ice pops or peach purée in baked goods or peachy apple sauce, etc.

6.) Add the nectar (juices) to tea that has cooled some.

7.) Sweetener or sugar can be added to bring out the sweetness of the peaches. Start with about a tablespoon or two of sugar. Adjust to your liking. Mix in the sugar before you put the tea in the fridge so it can dissolve well. You can also use a non-sugar sweetener, but keep in mind the peaches add a lot of sweetness on their own. So taste as you go.

8.) Keep your fresh peach tea in the fridge.  Serve over ice. Yum.

Variation Z.

Zombie* Peach Ice Tea

I make what I call Zombie* Peaches anyway and this makes it easy and quick to make real peach iced tea. This yields about 2-1/4 cups of peach tea (not including ice).

1.) Make iced tea.

2.) Make Zombie Peaches. (You’ll want to make them ahead of time by several days if possible.)

3.) Pour the tea over ice. Zombie Peaches already have sugar dissolved in them, so you don’t need to add more. But you can adjust to your liking by adding extra sweetener. If you add extra sugar, add it before the ice.

3.) Stir peach liquid into tea. Add about 4 or 5 tablespoons of the syrupy juice from a jar of Zombie Peaches per 2 cups of iced tea. Use more or less to taste. You can add some peach chunks too (or not). And you can add a squirt of lemon too. Stir well. (Keep in mind that remaining Zombie Peaches should always have enough liquid to cover any peach chunks to prevent mold, so it’s best to use some chunks as you use up the liquid. Chunks can be frozen into super yummy home made Popsicles. Served as a topping for ice cream. Or just spoon them in your mouth because, yum.)

The beauty of Zombie Peach Iced Tea is that it is usually fairly clear and not cloudy like blended peaches. Zombie Peaches last for weeks in the fridge so it’s easy to make ahead of time and whip up a glass of peach iced tea when you like.

This same process can be used with other fruit like raspberries and strawberries.


*I know the name “Zombie Peaches” may not sound very appealing. When I originally named them, had been thinking “zombie” because the fruit seems like it should be dead but it lives on and on. Zombie, right? Plus my daughter had a zombie ranger summer camp that she loved! So we had zombies on the brain. But zombies get pretty yucky looking. Vampires, on the other hand, stay relatively youthful and well preserved. And this is about preservation. So maybe I should call it Vampire Peaches? Both zombies and vampires are forms of the undead, right? Humm. Maybe I’ll post an updated recipe with a new name.
Copyright 2016 Debora Kapke

Tea for Tuesday – Ice Ice Baby

I know it’s not Tuesday. I almost finished this on Thursday. I thought maybe I could call it Tea for Thirstday. (Get it?) But now it’s Sunday. So … I’m just leaving it Tea for Tuesday. 

A class reunion in August and trip to visit friends near Nashville, Tenneessee, and later my dad in the Carolinas, reinforced my love for southern cooking and beverages. I visited a Cracker Barrel Old Country Store one too many times. 

I drank a lot of iced tea all summer long. Iced tea is almost as favorite a beverage as its hot counterpart. 

In the south, iced tea is almost always served sweetened. I’ve said before that in the south if it isn’t sweet then it’s just a hot beverage gone cold. I’ve been to restaurants that didn’t even carry unsweetened tea. Those that carry both varieties sometimes call sweet tea “Iced Tea” while the plain version is called “Unsweet Tea.”

I may not like sweet tea as syrupy as some (blame my Northern / Midwestern origins), but I love a good iced tea with the right balance of astringency, flavor, and sweetness. This Labor Day weekend is a good time to drink even more! 

Iced tea is natural and real brewed tea even has health benefits. It can be very economical. Plus you can control the sweetness when you make it yourself!

Not all tea is created equal — true for hot and iced. The tea matters! There’s a specific flavor I want. 

Fortunately, you don’t have to spend a lot of money. Lipton and Luzianne both give a lot of the flavor I’m looking for. I’m sure I could make excellent iced tea using expensive, loose-leaf tea. But for me, nostalgia rules where iced tea is concerned. Why spend the extra money?

That said, I like several variations on iced tea — peach tea, strawberry tea, hibiscus tea, and half & half tea aka an “Arnold Palmer” (1/2 tea, 1/2 lemonade). All can be yummy. I’ll save those for another post.

For classic iced tea I use Family Size tea bags. It takes a lot of tea to make really good iced tea. One puny, single-serving tea bag will tint your water brown, but not much else (unless you want a really small glass of iced tea). 

As a busy mom, I find it easiest to make the tea in a 4-cup glass (Pyrex type) measuring cup with a pour spout. I usually heat the water in the microwave. (Be careful if you add tea to super-heated microwaved water. It can boil over. Use a container that is larger than you need.)

Directions on both Lipton and Luzianne are similar. I don’t change much at the beginning. 

1.) Heat 2 cups of water to a rolling boil (Again, be careful if microwaving. The boil may not actually roll until you add the tea, but still be hot enough.)

2.) Add 1 Family Size tea bag.

3.) Steep 3-5 minutes. (I leave it for about 7-10 minutes. Any longer can make the tea bitter.)

4.) Remove tea bag (squeeze gently) and sweeten to taste. (More on this, below.)

So here’s where I mix things up.

Luzianne’s instructions say to add an additional 2 cups of cold water and then chill (ya know, just relax a little). Lipton’s iced tea instructions start with 4 cups of water and 2 Family Size tea bags, but the ratio of water to tea bags is the same as Luzianne’s. Then Lipton says you should stir in 6 cups of ice cubes (or 4 cups cold water) and refrigerate. 

What? Water down my tea on purpose?

I personally don’t add extra water or ice to the tea until I’m ready to drink it. I let the tea concentrate cool some on the counter before refrigerating, or I just pour the concentrate over ice in my glass (some ice will melt). Even better than a glass, I often use an insulated stainless steel bottle with ice. It will stay cold for many hours and not “sweat” (no condensation on the outside). (I have too many stainless steel bottles. That’s another story.) Most of my stainless steel water bottles hold about 17 ounces, so I get a full bottle plus extra with 2 cups of tea concentrate plus ice.

It’s easy to add water later if you find the tea to be too strong. Adjust as needed. It’s not easy to make tea stronger if it gets too watered down. Plus if you keep the tea in the refrigerator, adding more water just takes up more space in the fridge. 

So just make the tea concentrate and be happy! And chill.

I usually like iced tea with a little squirt of lemon. Sometimes I add it, sometimes I don’t. I also like it sweetened. Individual sweeteners may vary.

It’s practically impossible to dissolve sugar in ice-cold tea (it takes a very long time). So add any sugar while the tea is still very hot.  About 1 to 2 tablespoons of sugar for each cup of tea seems to be standard for sweet tea. But use more or less to taste. Stir well. Or make a simple syrup to add to the tea later. Simple syrup is just a lot of sugar dissolved in boiling water. Make sure it’s still a liquid when it cools (not hard candy). 

I don’t always want real sugar in my tea. I know. In the south, I’m probably considered a heathen. But sugar is bad for my teeth and not great for my waistline either. I already eat too much of it.

So what do I like? I like a mixture of sweeteners.

The following amounts are based on about a 14 ounce serving of tea concentrate served over ice (ice that will partly dissolve). Some of the water comes out with the tea bags, so it’s not a full 16 ounces any more.

If I’m going sugar free, then I like 2 packets of Stevia in the Raw plus 1 packet of sucralose (like Splenda). Stevia on its own tastes a little too weird to me. The sucralose seems to even out the taste nicely without adding too much weirdness of its own. Plus this way it’s mostly natural. Just 1/3 mystery ingredient! Both dissolve fairly easily even in cold tea. 

If I’m going to go a little wild (I know how to live it up, don’t I?), then I like Truvia Baking blend. It’s a mixture of sugar and Stevia. Since it has sugar, it’s best to add this while the tea is still hot. The flavor is close to real sugar, thanks to the, you know, real sugar. I’ve also mixed this combo with sucralose for a good sweet tea flavor that has very little sugar. That would be 1 teaspoon of Truvia Baking blend plus 1 packet of sucralose. Using Truvia alone, I’d go with 2 teaspoons. Adjust to taste.

Try some variations yourself and see what you like best. Enjoy and have a cool Labor Day weekend!