Tea is a health hero since it's been linked to everything from lower blood pressure to reduced cancer risk. See if you're getting the most out of your refreshing iced drink. Read 'em and steep.

1. Time It Right

As tea sits, its health-boosting antioxidants deteriorate. This is a good reason to skip bottled brews -- who knows how long they've been on the shelf? When you're making home brew, consider making a day or two's worth instead of a week's.

2. Keep the Caffeine

Stick with regular tea for the biggest dose of antioxidants. The decaffeination process can remove 10 to 15 percent of the good-for-you compounds.

Rosy Iced Tea

3. Juice It Up

Boost your benefits with a squeeze of lemon. A Purdue University study suggests that citrus juice may help your body absorb tea's catechins, a type of antioxidant that may aid in preventing cancer.


4. Raid the Garden

Herbal "teas" -- really infusions made from any plant that's not tea -- can be as simple as fresh mint steeped in water or as complex as a blend of dried flower petals and spices. Research suggests that the antioxidants in both hibiscus and rooibos teas may help lower blood pressure, and calming chamomile could help manage diabetes symptoms and support the immune system.

Have extra herbs on hand? Try one of our 5 creative and new ideas to reuse them.

5 New Users for Herbs

5. Sweeten Smarter

A 21-ounce McDonald's Sweet Tea has 180 calories, the equivalent of 11 teaspoons of sugar. Instead, self-sweeten. One teaspoon of sugar costs you only 16 calories. And tea itself has none.

Feeling creative? Try out other natural sweeteners such as jam or preserves as seen in our Blueberry Iced Tea.

6. Go Green

Green tea comes from the same plant as black tea, but because of the way the leaves are dried, green tea retains about twice as many antioxidants as black.

green teas