Three Refreshing Drinks to Beat the Summer Heat

— By Alex Gayton, Assistant EFNEP Coordinator & Social Media Coordinator, Expanded Food Nutrition and Education Program (EFNEP), University of Maine Cooperative Extension

Hydration is important all year round, and as the temperatures rise in the summer it becomes even more important. Keep reading for summer drink inspiration as I share my top 3 refreshing drinks you can make to beat the heat.


I know, water is not exciting to start with, but for me, this is the most refreshing drink. I know some people don’t like plain water and it’s hard for them to drink. If this is you, don’t worry, try choosing water that has carbonation or flavor in it, think seltzer water or flavored water without added sugar. Infused water is a common option that you can make yourself by combining water with other ingredients to enhance its flavor using fruits, vegetables, or herbs. This is a great option to try because you can use plain water or carbonated water and make many different flavor combinations. Note it is important to handle fresh produce safely when making infused water. Follow these tips for food safety:

  • When buying fresh produce, inspect thoroughly and choose items without any bruises or damage.
  • Before preparing, wash hands thoroughly with soap under warm running water for 20 seconds.
  • Wash produce with clean, cold water before cutting.
  • Store infused water in a clean and sealed container.
  • Date the infused water container and refrigerate it at a temperature of 40 degrees F or lower.
  • To avoid bitterness, drain produce within 24 hours and refrigerate for up to six days.

For recipe inspiration try UMaine Extension’s recipe, Flavored Water (No Sugar Added).

Iced Tea

Another refreshing favorite is homemade iced tea. Premade iced tea can be high in added sugars (FDA) depending on what you buy, and unless the tea says unsweetened be aware of the added sugars. Sweet tea is delicious but when you look at a single serving bottle the added sugar can have around 42 grams [84% Daily Value (FDA)] which is 10.5 teaspoons of added sugar. Create a lower-sugar alternative to sweet tea by combining flavored herbal or fruit-flavored green teas and adding a small amount of honey or sugar.

Remember some teas have caffeine so if you are trying to reduce your caffeine intake be aware of what tea you are brewing and read the labels on the tea box, if it’s caffeine-free it will typically say it on the box. Many herbal teas are caffeine-free, such as chamomile and peppermint.

Iced tea is forgiving, and I think the only thing that can go wrong is brewing it too long. If tea brews for a longer time than recommended it can become bitter, follow the brewing time guide on the tea box to avoid this. A good ratio when making iced tea is to use one tea bag for every 8 ounces (1 cup) of water. For stronger flavored tea use two tea bags instead of one. After the tea is brewed, remove the tea bags, and cool down the brewed tea. You can speed up this process by placing the tea in the refrigerator or transferring it to a pitcher filled with ice cubes. If you prefer some added sweetness, add the sweetener of your choice while the water is hot so it fully dissolves.


I love lemonade and of course, grabbing a premade lemonade at the store is easier but most brands have a lot of added sugars. If you look at the serving sizes on the back of some of the larger bottles you might be shocked to see that the servings per container listed is four servings in one bottle. For example, if there is 11 grams (22% Daily Value) of added sugar that is about three teaspoons of added sugar for one serving. If the bottle says it has four servings, then the whole bottle has 44 grams (88% Daily Value) of added sugar which is 11 teaspoons of added sugar. Don’t get me wrong, I love pink lemonade but I know there’s a lot of sugar in it so I shouldn’t drink it all the time. Homemade lemonade is a good alternative because the sweetness can be adjusted, and has only three ingredients. UMaine Extension has a yummy Honey Sweetened Lemonade recipe you can try. Cheers to a happy and hydrated summer!