FLAVORFUL WATER, EASILY MADE
Plain water can get boring, especially during the dog days of summer, when it's a challenge to stay hydrated. Each liter of these infusions only use a few low-cost ingredients, which is way less expensive than coconut water or sports drinks. A glass or ceramic receptacle is best, but food-grade plastic works well, too. Most infusions take four to 12 hours, so soaking overnight may be ideal, either on a countertop or chilled in the fridge.
This antioxidant-rich blend is lightly sweet and highly aromatic. A small handful of blueberries is enough to infuse up to 1 liter of water. Use as much lemon as you want, depending on how subtle or strong you'd like the flavor to be. Be sure to slice the lemons, but the blueberries can remain whole. Infuse at least overnight and up to 24 hours in advance, and don't forget to snack on the blueberries after the water is gone.
For those who prefer a savory approach to hydration, this herb-driven combination provides a hint of flavor for extra refreshment. To infuse 1 liter of water, use six slices of cucumber (any variety) and 10 to 15 basil leaves. Rub the basil leaves before adding to the water to release the oils.
STRAWBERRY GINGER LIME
This tangy and spicy combination is a festive replacement for cocktails or sodas, and presents beautifully. Use an entire lime, sliced; 5 to 10 strawberries, quartered; and a 1-inch piece of peeled ginger to infuse 1 liter of water. For a spicier version, gently crush the ginger when beginning the infusion.
If summer had a flavor, it might taste something like this infusion. A few chunks of sweet watermelon along with a half a lime, thinly sliced, will make water anything but boring. Gently sweet with a touch of citrus tang, it's an addicting way to stay hydrated.
If you live in an area with pine trees, this idea doesn't cost a cent. Simply collect a few tips from the pine buds and infuse them overnight or up to two days in water. The fresh and herbal flavor is piquant and goes well with meats, especially anything smoked or spiced.
Not entirely an infusion, a teaspoon of maple syrup adds a hint of sweetness, and its one-of-a-kind flavor blends seamlessly with a third to a half of a lemon. The touch of natural sugar works especially well for those who are fasting or trying to cleanse by skipping a few meals. This beverage works double duty, keeping you hydrated and steadying blood sugar.
This classic combination works just as well in water as it does with food. Be sure to gently smack the herbs -- by clapping with hands -- before infusing to release their flavorful oils. Any type of herbs or combination works well, especially rosemary, basil, and lemon balm. Combine two springs or leaves (minimum) with a third to a half of a lemon for each liter of water.
A tropical twist can create the feeling of being far away on an island somewhere by the sea. The pineapple provides lots of flavor and a hint of sweetness that is well balanced by the spicy ginger. To make, crush a 1-inch piece ginger in a liter of water to release the flavor (otherwise the more potent pineapple will overwhelm) and add two to five pineapple chunks.
Detoxifying and exciting, slightly spicy chili lime water promotes digestion and even helps curb appetite. Chilies actually help to cool you off in hot weather, making this great for the dog days of summer. Just a hint of spice is ideal, such as a few slices of jalapeño with a sliced lime in a liter of water.
The combination of fruit and herbs has become something of a culinary trend and also works well in beverages. Basil enhances the sweetness of the strawberries, creating a fairly complex, if subtly flavored infusion. Be generous with both strawberries, quartered, and basil leaves, gently smacked. Both can be eaten when the water is gone.
Mint has long been associated with a refreshing and cooling effect. Combined with sweet watermelon, it's just as flavorful as any other sugary beverage only far more hydrating. Use an ample amount of mint to get a strong infusion – 15 to 20 leaves, smacked to release the oils – and four to five large chunks of watermelon per liter of water.
CUCUMBER CHILI MINT
Try this piquant mix alongside Asian-inspired meals. It combines cooling cucumber and mint with hot chili, which gets the gastronomical juices flowing. The intense flavors also work well as a cocktail replacement. Slice half a cucumber, combine with one sliced jalapeño, and add 10 to 20 smacked mint leaves. Infuse for four to 10 hours.
ORANGE GINGER CINNAMON
These warm flavors are reminiscent of chai tea. It's possible to use just an orange peel or zest, but slicing the entire fruit also works. A cinnamon stick is best, but it takes at least overnight and up to 24 hours to infuse. Soak half an orange, one cinnamon stick, and a 2-inch piece of peeled and crushed ginger in a liter of water.
Piney rosemary and strong grapefruit zest combine to give water an earthy note. Use the zest of half a grapefruit, and one or two sprigs of rosemary. Gently press both the zest and herbs to release some of the oils and infuse 1 liter of water for four to 10 hours. The concoction turns bitter if left to sit too long, so it's best consumed within 24 hours.
Classic, easy, and super cheap, this is a quick way to add some kick to plain water. Marinate sliced oranges, grapefruits, and lemons or limes – or all four – in cold water to create a bright and sunny refreshment. For an effervescent twist, use sparkling water, and be sure to squeeze some of the fruits' juice into the water.
This classic confectionary combo will trick your brain into thinking it's drinking something sweet, rather than simply flavored water. Use 1 to 2 teaspoons of good vanilla extract and half a sliced lemon in a liter of water. If you squeeze the lemon in the water, there's no need to infuse it for a long time; it will be ready to enjoy immediately.
Summer melons are a sweet treat that easily add flavor to water. Any melon or combination thereof will work, and thyme adds a pleasant herbal note. Gently press the thyme to release its flavor, and infuse for two to 10 hours before drinking.
PEACH LEMON HONEY
With all the flavor of a delicious cocktail minus the alcohol, this gently sweet water doubles as a mocktail. Slice one fresh peach and one lemon, and add a tablespoon of honey. Shake to combine the ingredients well and infuse for at least four hours for maximum flavor.
If you love piña coladas, a new summer drink awaits. Infuse chunks of juicy pineapple and a tablespoon of unsweetened coconut in a liter of water for four to 10 hours to create a delicately flavored beverage. Try it alongside spicy and tropical cuisines as an alternative to beer and alcoholic drinks.
Floral and refreshing, this flavored water will keep for a few days in the fridge. A few teaspoons of lavender are enough for a liter of water, along with half a sliced cucumber. Add honey for a touch of sweetness, or a squeeze of lemon for tartness.