June is National Iced Tea Month and what better way to celebrate the warm weather and get into shape than to reward yourself with a refreshing and healthy home-brewed glass of Iced Tea?

Tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world next to water. In 2010, Americans consumed well over 65 billion servings of tea, or over 3 billion gallons. Of that, approximately 85% of tea consumed in America is iced. Iced Tea is a hydrating alternative to sugary beverages like soda, and might help boost weight loss efforts, along with a healthy diet and plenty of exercise.

A new research study on the effect of green tea catechins published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, showcases epidemiologic evidence that routine tea consumption of an average of about two cups a day is associated with a lower percentage of body fat and weight control than in those who are not drinking tea.

For consumers who want to follow the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which recommend eating a diet with less sugar, tea is the recommended beverage of choice.

Joe Simrany, President of the Tea Council of the USA, recommends consuming plenty of tea. "Iced tea is a naturally great tasting beverage that is virtually calorie-free and contains no sodium, fat, carbonation, or sugar."

In addition to keeping you cool and hydrated throughout the summer season, Iced Tea is one of the healthiest beverages you can drink! Tea helps maintain proper fluid balance and may contribute to overall good health.

There is a continuous flow of new research supporting the health benefits of drinking tea, particularly those conferred by flavonoids, which help protect skin and keep blood vessels healthy. Drinking tea has been linked to heart and brain health, as well as a reduced risk for certain cancers, and neurological decline.

Tea is the delicious and healthy choice, and it is widely available.

So Drink Up!

This June - for National Iced Tea Month - do something that's great for your body and tastes great. Drink a refreshing glass of Iced Tea. Tea is inexpensive and easy to make at home by the glass or the pitcher! Iced tea can be made from brewed, instant or bottled varieties.

Refreshing Iced Tea Recipe
• For small quantities, bring fresh cold tap water to a full, rolling boil. Use 50% more tea than if you were preparing hot tea to allow for dilution by ice. For example, use one and a half teaspoonfuls of loose tea or one and one half tea bags per cup (five to eight ounces) of water. Pour the boiling water over the tea. Brew three to five minutes. If you prefer your tea less strong, add more water after brewing. Pour over ice.

• For large quantities, prepare a concentrate as follows: Bring one quart of cold water to a rolling boil. Remove from heat and add 8-10 tea bags per quart of brewed tea desired. Steep three to five minutes and add ice cubes. To serve, pour into tall glasses filled with ice, garnish and sweeten as desired.

• For extra flavor add your favorite fruit, such as lemons, limes or even peaches.

For more information about the role of tea in a healthy diet and lifestyle, please visit www.TeaUSA.org.