Agua. Mizu. De l’eau. The Big H-Two-Oh.

It’s the middle of July, and despite the storms, heat, and humidity across the midwest, we’ve very likely not even hit the hottest part of the summer. August is yet to come, and as my home state, Michigan, is surounded by the largest freshwater sources in North America, I ought to make note of the importance of staying hydrated–no matter where you are.

WebMD has a good overview of what helps hydrate you. The notion that you must physically drink 8 ounces of water every hour (or every two hours; the reccommendations are inconsistent) is outdated. People neglect to remember that food contains water, just as our bodies contain water while seeming dry on the outside. The article mentions, oddly enough, watermelon as something that contains enough water to help you in your hydration quest. Other fruits and veggies, like peaches, tomatoes, and cucumbers, are also full of water.

While you cannot replace all of your water intake with hydrating food, it’s worth remembering that snacking on carrots, cucumbers, and ranch dressing or hummus, is also helpful.

Also remember that water does not have to be “ugh. water.” There are plenty of options for flavoring water. Iced tea, milk, and juices all count, too! Just remember to watch sugar intake for sweetened beverages. A question answered by a Mayo Clinic nutritionist supports the WebMD article’s claim that the dehydration effect of caffeinated beverages is negligible, so iced coffee and tea–even black–are okay once in a while.  If you’re exercising, something containing electrolytes that are lost through sweat isn’t a bad idea. Don’t go crazy with these, though, since sports drinks are meant as support for hard workouts, not everyday hydration.

Finally, I shall leave you all with my favorite recipe: Cucumber Lemon water. I drink a pitcher a day of this, when I make it. It’s super simple, and it makes ‘plain old water’ into something completely refreshing!

Ingredients:

  • 1 Lemon
  • 1/2 Cucumber
  • Choose one: Fresh Mint Leaves (or) 1-inch section of fresh Ginger

Directions:

Wash the lemon thoroughly. Parts of the rind will be going into the pitcher! Slice the ends off of the lemon, then slice the lemon into circles. Throw them in the pitcher, but do not squeeze them.

Wash the cucumber and peel if desired. Slice half of the cucumber thinly (a mandolin slicer helps immensely) and put into the pitcher as well.

If you’ve chosen the mint leaves, wash them and put a few in the pitcher. If you’ve chosen the ginger, peel it and cut it into eighths or quarters, then put in the pitcher.

Add water and ice, and stir, but do not muddle. After a few hours, the water will be ready, but leaving it overnight is the best. Once you’ve finished drinking the first batch, you can add more water and muddle the ingredients this time to double their life! The second batch will be a little more lemony, because of how much more juice you get from muddling the lemon than the cucumbers, but it will be equally refreshing.

Enjoy!

(As a bonus, once they’ve lived their life in your water, you can flush the ingredients down the garbage disposal with hot water to make your kitchen smell nice. Otherwise, everything is compostable!)

Tea time!

Tea. The magical beverage of wonder–You have it hot, or iced, or sweet, or bitter, with or without milk, with tapioca bubbles, over rice, mixed with alcohol, mixed with lemonade…! Tea is honestly my best friend, and with all the studies relating green tea to weight loss, there’s little reason not to drink tea.

I will admit, green tea is my favorite. It is the one with the most known health benefits, and there are so many varieties, it’s easy to find a kind you like. I have two green teas in my ‘Tea Shelf’ at the moment–one is Lipton’s Orange, Passion Fruit and Jasmine Green Tea, and the other is Bigelow’s Green Constant Comment. I love them both. Constant Comment comes in two varieties, green and black, and both are lovely for a morning tea in the fall and winter, where the warm, spicy tea works best to wake you up and get you ready for the day. The Lipton variety I have is a perfect afternoon cuppa, and it’s delicious iced with a little bit of agave nectar for extra sweetness.

My eighth birthday was a tea party. I invited the girls to get all dressed up, and we decorated lavender sachets, drank tea from my mom’s gorgeous teacup collection, and played board games in our delicate lace gloves. It was loads of fun. Additionally, in the five or six years when my best friends came over every Wednesday after school, my mom would always let us drink tea from the nice teacups before we did our homework.

In all that time, I’ve sort of ‘acquired’ some tea tips:

  • Black, mint, and herb teas are better sweetened with sugar, fruit teas are better sweetened with honey or agave. My favorite tea is Bigelow’s Plantation Mint, which is spearmint and black tea, and I’ve discovered that it just tastes better with real sugar. It brings out the mint better than honey does. Green teas, on the other hand, plus my Chamomile tea, are lovely with honey, which has a softer sweetness to it.
  • When heating water for tea, don’t use a whistling kettle. It completely boils the water before it whistles, and boiling water makes tea taste sort of dull. Maybe it cooks the tea before it steeps it or something, but it’s just not as flavorful. I use an old kettle that I remember using as a kid for years. When wisps of steam start to make their way up the spout, it’s ready. The water is steaming, it’s heated enough. You get–shock!–a steaming cup of tea, without it being boiling hot. How novel.
  • Steep your tea in a teapot, even if you only plan on drinking one cup. The stacking single-serve teapot/cup sets are lovely for this. It makes it easier to get another cup if you decide you want one (and I always want another, even if I don’t want to want another), instead of pouring more hot water in a mug with a mostly spent tea bag.

I could prattle on about tea for ages. I’ve got seven boxes of tea in my room at the moment, about evenly distributed across the spectrum of tea varieties. I might have to list and ‘review’ them one day soon. Fall is coming–it’s almost Tea Season!