DIY ‘Kool-Aid’

by lydia on April 18, 2014

One of the biggest health mistakes most people make is simply what they choose to drink. Soda, juice, sweetened teas, ‘fruit’ beverages and the list could go on. Everywhere I go I see people chugging down large bottles of brightly colored liquid. Everyone from small children to old folks alike. Sadly, these drinks are in no way healthy (or tasty) and are quite damaging to human health. Too many people are drinking the wrong kind of ‘Kool-Aid’ so to speak.

I think a little education is in order when it comes to what we choose for refreshments in America, don’t you? I covered many of the cons of these kinds of beverages awhile back in this post; ‘How To Ditch Processed Foods: Replacing Soda, Juice, and Other Sugary Beverages‘. In case you were not already aware, I am a Nutritional Therapist. Getting my clients to switch to healthy beverages is usually one of the first steps I take. It truly is amazing how much better you can feel with just this one simple switch in your diet.

Since I am so passionate about helping people choose healthy beverages I tend to share a lot of beverage recipes on my site. Stick around and subscribe to my feed so you don’t miss any of them. Today, I’m sharing my DIY recipe for Healthy Herbal ‘Kool-Aid‘. I’ve served this to numerous people, even those who drink the fluorescent bottled liquids of every size and color. The consensus has been overwhelmingly positive.

Herbal Tea

The weather is warming up quite a bit in my neck of the woods which calls for a refreshing beverage. In case you hadn’t noticed, I LOVE herbal teas. My family drinks A LOT of herbal tea and even more so when the weather warms up. One of my favorite herbal tea blends is what I like to call Herbal ‘Kool-Aid’  your very own DIY Kool-Aid. It’s super simple to whip up, very affordable and loaded with nutrition. Unlike, actual KoolAid or other such beverages that have been popular since I was a kid.

Why would anyone want to drink Kool-Aid? Just one look at the ingredients list makes me want to run screaming, take a look:

Kool-Aid Drink Mix. Tropical Punch 1.62 oz. Ingredients: Water, Malic Acid, Citric Acid, Gum Arabic, Sucralose (Sweetener), Contains Less than 2% of Natural Flavor, Acesulfame Potassium (Sweetener), Potassium Citrate, Glycerol Ester of Wood Rosin, Red 40, Sodium Benzoate and Potassium Sorbate (Preservatives).

Wouldn’t you rather drink something that actually benefits your body?

DIY 'Kool-Aid'
Recipe type: Beverage
 
Ingredients
  • ½ cup dried nettle leaf
  • ¼ cup dried hibiscus
  • ¼ cup dried spearmint
  • 2 teaspoons dried stevia leaf
  • 2 quarts water
Instructions
  1. Pour boiling water over the herbs in a large 2-quart mason jar, at least 4 cups.
  2. Stir well and place lid tightly on the jar. Let steep 30 minutes up to 2 hours.
  3. Strain and add enough water to make 2 quarts.

 

Herbal Kool-Aid

On warm or hot days we go through a gallon or more of this between the 5 of us! I buy all my herbs for this recipe in bulk from Mountain Rose Herbs. I absolutely love their quality and love supporting such an excellent company! The upfront investment for this tea blend could seem costly at first. Especially if you buy larger bags of each herb, but it will last a long time and make gallons upon gallons of tea. 1 gallon of tea costs me about $1.20 or so. That is far cheaper than a gallon of fruit punch from the store and even cheaper than soda. I hope you will try it out sometime.

For those of you who may not be DIYers – I’ve got good news. My friend Lori has an Etsy shop with the MOST amazing tea blend, called Dragon Juice!

Dragon Juice – Okay, I simply cannot swoon enough about this tea blend! It truly is to-die-for-good! Seriously, everyone should, at least, try it once in their life before they die! I shared this tea with countless people – people who were soda drinkers mind you – and they all LOVED it! And, believe me, I really tried to replicate this blend at home but came nowhere close to its awesomeness.  Lori created dragon juice as a natural and healthy alternative to kool-aid or juice for my kids. I specifically made dragon juice to have a natural bright red color, a lively citrusy taste and of course, to be chock full of nutritive value! It turned out awesome!  As these are all tonic herbs, that means they are great for everyday use. It is deliciously tasty hot or cold. All of my kids LOVED this tea! They literally got excited about it and when I ran out they begged me to get more. They still talk about it even when I’m out of it. It will definitely be a regular purchase for us!

Grab some Dragon Juice from L.c. of Acirema and use code: DIVINE5  to save 5% when you check out!

Did you grow up on Kool-Aid like I did?

 

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{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

m5th April 19, 2014 at 7:40 am

Here in Florida we have a native plant called rosella that you can make a tea out of the coverings of the seed pod and either drink it that way or chill it with a sweetener. It is very good for cardio issues.
This used to be grown widely here and sold to be the original ingredient for Kook Aid.

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Margaret Anne @ Natural Chow April 29, 2014 at 5:06 pm

This is great! I cannot wait to try it.

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Renee April 29, 2014 at 6:50 pm

I just love this idea! I will definitely be making this this summer! Thank you!

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Michael April 30, 2014 at 12:23 pm

The ingredients “citric acid” and “malic acid” make you want to run screaming??? You do realize every citrus fruit (lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruit, etc.) is naturally full of citric acid? As for malic acid, it is a naturally occurring acid that makes green apples sour in addition to naturally being a part of grapes and wine in copious amounts. In fact there is hardly a fruit in existence that doesn’t contain some level of citric or malic acid.

If you like scary names though here are a few – stevioside, rebaudioside A, rebaudioside C, dulcoside A.. These are the molecules in stevia that make it sweet.

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lydia May 1, 2014 at 8:11 am

Did you read the rest of the ingredients Michael? The sweeteners and preservatives -the red food dye? Why would we choose this over something natural that actually provides our body with vitamins and minerals?!

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Michael May 2, 2014 at 5:51 pm

I didn’t say your recipe was or was not healthier than kool-aid (your recipe is healthier simply by the fact that kool-aid has no nutritional value whatsoever). I was simply pointing out the fact that big, scary, scientific names are not always evil. If you looked at the scientific names of the very vitamins and minerals you refer to they would appear quite scary as well. For instance cyanocobalamin = Vitamin B12, pyridoxine = Vitamin B6, and Ascorbic Acid = Vitamin C. Additionally simply because something is “natural” does not make it safer or more desirable then something that is artificial. I don’t know about you, but I’d eat a thousand packets of Ace-K, Saccarine, Sucrolose, and Aspartame before I ate one packet of Sodium Cyanide. Ultimately this is the logical fallacy of appeal to nature.

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lydia May 2, 2014 at 6:04 pm

Yes, I hear what you are saying Michael!

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Nicole May 9, 2014 at 4:50 pm

However, citric acid as a food additive is almost universally made from GMO corn. So even though there are good natural forms when I see it on an ingredient list I do not buy that product. It has nothing to do with it being a “scary scientific name.”

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lydia May 9, 2014 at 6:06 pm

Good point Nicole! 😉

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Karli W. December 4, 2014 at 2:04 pm

Actually, more often than not, the citric acid added into drinks and foods are not from citrus fruits at all. Because it is so widely used, they get it from certain species of fungus which convert sugar into citric acid and also from genetically modified (gmo) black mold. GROSS.

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Angela England April 30, 2014 at 1:26 pm

Smart! What a great idea. I used to drink Kool-Aid all the time when I was growing up but we avoid it with my kiddos…this will be a nice alternative.

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lydia May 1, 2014 at 8:09 am

I hope you like it Angela!

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JosieT May 1, 2014 at 6:07 pm

Hi! Do I buy and use stevia leaf OR stevia leaf powder?

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lydia May 1, 2014 at 6:15 pm

I use stevia leaf -it’s easier to strain that way!

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Maryanne May 1, 2014 at 10:26 pm

This sounds wonderful — but I am not a spearmint fan — any idea how peppermint would work in this? Thanks!

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lydia May 2, 2014 at 6:39 am

Maryanne – I think peppermint would work well too! Try it and let me know how it goes. It would even be fine without the mint! You could simply add a little more nettles and hibiscus if you like!

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Paul May 3, 2014 at 8:39 pm

I tried this the other day and everyone I gave it to loved it. I told them what was in it and was asked how much sugar was added to it. People were pleasantly surprised to learn that there is no sugar at all in it. I’m sold on it and making another batch right now.

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lydia May 3, 2014 at 9:11 pm

That’s awesome Paul -so glad to hear it! Thanks for stopping by to share that with me!

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Dori May 8, 2014 at 12:36 pm

This sounds so good but when I went to purchase the herbs it ends up being over $2/16oz of drink (not including shipping)! Do you know of a cheaper way to buy bulk herbs?

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lydia May 8, 2014 at 5:45 pm

Hi Dori,

I’m not sure how you are calculating or what amounts/prices you are looking at.

Here’s what I do: I buy all of my herbs in 1 lb bags from Mountain Rose Herbs (if you buy 5 lbs at once you get a discount per lb – I always buy at least 5 lbs each time I order). I’ve been able to make a 2 quart batch for less than $1.50 per batch that way. You can also try getting herbs through Frontier on Amazon Prime and get free shipping that way.

My local health food store also carries herbs in bulk from Frontier, but that costs me a bit more.

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Amy July 2, 2014 at 8:03 pm

Vitacost also carries Starwest Botanicals and Frontier. Both in 1 lb bags for cheaper and the shipping is $5 unless you buy $50, then it’s free! If you would like a coupon for Vitacost ($10 off a $30 order), let me know! I would need your e-mail.

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HEATHER BRANDT May 9, 2014 at 4:30 pm

any way to make this with honey instead of stevia?

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lydia May 9, 2014 at 6:06 pm

Sure Heather -just add it to taste after you steep and strain the herbs!

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Lisa May 9, 2014 at 4:58 pm

I’ve been doing something similar for my children for awhile. I use a hibiscus and lemongrass tea that I ice and put lemon and some stevia in. It’s pretty and red, and tastes delicious. I’ll have to try some nettles this summer, too!

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lydia May 10, 2014 at 7:21 am

Oh I love lemongrass too -I’ll have to try that combo some time Lisa!

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diane nestor May 12, 2014 at 10:58 am

Making this now. I just received my order from Mountain Rose. Yes, everything looks lovely. So hoping my teenage son is going to fall in love with this drink.

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lydia May 12, 2014 at 11:51 am

Fingers crossed Diane! 😉

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Daniell May 18, 2014 at 11:12 pm

I love this recipe! I make this for my two year old she loves it. I’m brewing my second batch..

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lydia May 19, 2014 at 6:40 am

Glad to hear it Daniell!

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cyndi June 26, 2014 at 9:42 pm

Is nettles as in stinging nettles?

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lydia July 18, 2014 at 12:21 pm

Yes Cyndi!

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Chef William Chaney July 2, 2014 at 9:01 pm

Great Summer drink, I live half the year in the states and the other half in Mexico. While in Mexico we always have Jamaica Hibiscus Agua Fresca but I never though to add spearment or nettle leaf. I will be giving this a try, the next batch I make. Thanks for the heads up about Mountain Rose Herbs, I will use your like when I visit them.

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lydia July 18, 2014 at 12:21 pm

That drink sounds good too Chef William! I hope you enjoy the new additions! :)

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Heather July 31, 2014 at 3:45 pm

Hi Lydia! We are IN LOVE with this drink! However, I am 16 weeks pregnant. What are your thoughts on drinking this (some days I have drank 2 tall glasses) while being preggo?

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lydia August 1, 2014 at 10:17 am

Yes, this is a tea you can enjoy during pregnancy – it’s recommended not to drink much during the first trimester (but sounds like you are already through that point). Always check with your doctor or midwife as well (<—-have to disclaim that 😉 ) Glad you LOVE the tea!

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Pamela July 10, 2015 at 9:54 pm

I was wondering if the mint taste is very obvious. :p. Seems odd to me to add it too a drink.

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lydia July 11, 2015 at 7:34 am

No it’s subtle Pamela – but you certainly can leave it out if you prefer!

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Pamela July 10, 2015 at 9:54 pm

Adding for follow up comments via e-mail.

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Mary C December 13, 2015 at 10:21 pm

I make kombucha and often do a second ferment. Have you ever tried this herbal blend in a fermented drink?

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lydia December 15, 2015 at 6:46 am

No I have not.

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