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Make Cool-Aid, Not Kool-Aid

Summer is winding down—the heat not so much. So why don't you come on over and let me pour you a glass of this thirst quencher. We'll sit in the backyard and talk about how it's all-natural, free of artificial colors, and easily zero-calorie—and of course, lot's of other stuff.

This refresher may look like Kool-Aid but is far from it. The base is herbal tea. Raw apple cider vinegar is added for tang and it's health-promoting properites and a little stevia (or natural sweetener of your choice) balances it all out. The only things missing are the artificial flavors and a good dose of Red #40.

If you're trying to give up sugary juices and drinks, give this one a go and let me know what you think.

"Better than Kool-Aid" Cool-Aid


4-6 HERBAL TEA BAGS (pick a robustly flavored fruit variety)
About 4 cups boiling WATER, plus more cold water
2 tablespoons raw APPLE CIDER VINEGAR (we like this brand)
LIQUID STEVIA CONCENTRATE (we like this one) or other sweetener to taste


  1. Add tea bags to tempered one gallon jar.
  2. Pour boiling water over tea bags and let steep 4-6 minutes
  3. Fill jar the rest of the way with cold water.
  4. Mix in vinegar and stevia or sweetener.
  5. Serve chilled over ice.


Most tea blends that include hibiscus will produce the a very vivid colored tea.

Reader Comments (80)

Does Celestial Seasonings have any "natural flavoring" on their ingredient lists? I'm not just GF but SCD and watch ingredients closely.

August 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDawn V

These sound (and look) wonderfully refreshing, Lexie!
:) Megan

Oh my gosh - those celestial teas are always too berry for me, but I never thought to make cool-aid with them! Brilliant lady.

August 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAlisa

This is *the best* idea, Lexie! Great alternative to regular Kool-Aid but also just a neat beverage to serve any old time. Love it! :)

August 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHallie @ Daily Bites

Gorgeous and no doubt absolutely fabulous in taste and cooling properties! I must try them this week for sure. But now here's the $64 million dollar question ... can you dye clothes with them? That was without a doubt the best use for packets of Kool-Aid. You could dye sweaters the coolest shades with them. Well, back before sweaters came in really neat colors anyway. ;-)

Thanks, Lexie!

August 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterShirley @ gfe

I started making GF herbal iced teas for my daughter and myself this summer too! I hadn't thought to add the tang of the vinegar, that sounds fun. I have a pitcher of Red Zinger and Raspberry tea in my fridge right now I might go try it out. The other thing we do is add half tea (brewed strong) and half mineral water for a fun bubbly treat. Thanks Lexie!

August 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDionne

Another fab idea out of Lexie's Kitchen! Pinning this so the kids and I can try it. I've had a hard time finding celestial teas without soy. Have you found the same thing, maybe it's just in Canada? Thanks Lex!

August 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMaggie

Shirley, brilliant. I never knew that about kook-aid. Dyeing sweaters. Who'd a thunk. Wonder if it dyes our insides? Ha! xoLexie

August 11, 2012 | Registered CommenterLexie

Ooooo Dionne, I like the bubbly idea : ) Thanks for sharing. xoLexie

August 11, 2012 | Registered CommenterLexie

Hallie, Megan and Alisa, Thanks for stopping by. Hallie, we have a gallon in the fridge all the time. It's been our go to drink. When my husband has a canker sore breakout he amps up on the tea (because to the apple cider vinegar) and it helps restore balance and clear up the sores. ACV is great stuff. xoLexie

August 11, 2012 | Registered CommenterLexie

Maggie, I think a lot or all of them do have soy lecithin. Because I needed a refresher on allergenicity (not that's a big word!) of soy lecithin I found this. Interesting:

Soy Lecithin
FALCPA also requires the labeling of soy lecithin because it is derived from soybeans and contains residual protein. The Grocery Manufacturers of America and other trade associations are working with the Food & Drug Administration to try to exempt soy lecithin from the source labeling requirement of FALCPA. Soy lecithin is acknowledged to contain residual levels of protein, although the amount of residual protein is uncertain. The Food Chemicals Codex specification for lecithin allows a maximum of 0.3 percent hexane insoluble matter in food-grade lecithin. If all protein, then the upper limit for protein should be 3,000 ppm. No validated method is available for the precise measurement of protein levels in lecithin. Soy allergens have been identified within the residual protein in soy lecithin by various investigators. However, the presence of residual levels of soy protein and soy allergens in soy lecithin is insufficient to document the allergenicity of soy lecithin. Only two reports exist of allergic reactions to soy lecithin among soy-allergic consumers, despite its widespread use.7, 8 The allergenicity of soy lecithin remains unknown, although the very small number of documented episodes.


August 11, 2012 | Registered CommenterLexie

Are those cups or jars with stars? Love them! Thanks for the great idea with the tea too!

August 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJessica

Jessica, don't you love those stars? Picked up these glasses at Goodwill (love me a good Goodwill!). I think some kind of food comes/came in these (like cheese spread or something). Maybe someone can help us out. There's a brand of mole sauce that comes in pretty cool glass containers, too. Eat enough mole and you have a full set! xoLexie

August 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLexie

How much stevia should you add? Could you use honey or agave instead?

August 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKatie

Katie, I add a dropper and a half of NuNaturals ... I only use the liquid stevia concentrates. Most brands are the same concentration. So a dropper and a half. And yes, for those who prefer not using stevia, agave or honey is fine. Maybe add the honey when the water is still hot/warm so that it liquifies. xoLexie

August 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLexie

Wow! You are so creative, what a great idea for Cool-Aid!!!

Thank you!!

August 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarol

Which Stevia product do you use? It wasn't clear from the link.

August 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVanessa

Oh sorry Vanessa, I use the the clear or vanilla liquid stevia ... like this one: https://nunaturals.com/product/103


August 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLexie

Which flavors did you make? the orange one?

August 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

Amanda, those were Cranberry Apple and Peach Passion (in the photo)

:) xoLexie

August 15, 2012 | Registered CommenterLexie

I'm pretty sure the jars once contained Armour Sliced Dried Beef. Never thought to keep them for small drinking glasses after I made cheese balls.

August 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterValerie

Ding ding ding!!! Valerie, you are so right! That's what those are from. Thanks for solving the mystery. xoLexie

August 17, 2012 | Registered CommenterLexie

would this work with NOT raw apple cider vinegar? Or would it be better to just omit it till I can get to the store?

August 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMelanie

Melanie, sure you could omit it until you get to the store ... but it will just kinda-sorta be sweetened tea : ) Go for the raw apple cider vinegar like Braggs. You want to see a little stuff floating in it. That's the "mother". It will look gross but that is what's alive and contributes to the healing properties of raw apple cider vinegar. xoLexie

August 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLexie

the raspberry zinger makes an awesome drink also- i add fresh lemon juice to mine.

September 10, 2012 | Unregistered Commentertina

I was addicted to Diet Coke for quite a few years, my hubby saying something about it every so often as he saw me drinking more and more. Cutting back didn't work, so I went cold turkey. I drank some sugared soft drinks, and made more tea, but tea just wasn't satisfying me. So I experimented with the new tea flavors I found at the grocery stores (this was maybe 6-8 years ago?)

I found the fruit-flavored teas too strongly flavored as written on the boxes, so I ended up using one family sized tea bag with one fruit-tea bag, then a few green tea bags thrown in for health purposes.

As stevia became available, I tried it in my fruity tea, but it had the aftertaste I'd read about. So I did conversion math for that brand of stevia, and used sugar+stevia, gradually decreasing the sugar until I was using only stevia, but without the aftertaste - I guess my tastebuds became accustomed over time.

I've read about shrubs and have been planning on ACV with smoothies (I won't drink "juice" without the fiber, since I was recently diagnosed as insulin resistant/pre-diabetes). But the fruit teas with stevia won't spike my blood sugar, and don't come with the hassle and cleanup of smoothies. Thanks!

September 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterShreela

For those of you with soy allergies, you might try Tazo Teas. Lots of yummy flavors & no 'extra' ingredients in these!! I get mine at Super Supplements
They have the best variety & prices.

October 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFran G.

Oh my!! I made this and it turned out great. It really does taste so similar to kool-aid! Only soooooo much better. I love that my kiddoes are getting some ACV at the same time. GREAT job!!! Keep the great recipes coming!!

October 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDanielle

Danielle ... thank you for your kind words. So glad your kids are enjoying some KOOL-AID :) xoLexie

October 23, 2012 | Registered CommenterLexie

This was so good and so easy! Finally something like vitamin water that I can feel better about drinking. Now this is horrible, but I think it would be yummy as a base for a Vodka martini for a girls night! Detoxify and toxify at the same time!

October 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAngela

I look forward to giving this a try. While the snow is swirling outside, my thoughts are of warmer days with this recipe. I wonder if it would make a good popsicle, or if frozen as ice cubes and crushed in a high power blender (still dreaming of owning one myself...) it could be a flavored "slushy" or shave-ice type treat.

December 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKT

Holy Cow!!! We just made this. YUMMY!!! My entire family is VERY grateful!!! Just in time for a birthday party! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

January 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLori

Lori, I have a big old fat smile across my face. I am so happy I could bring a beverage to the birthday party!! xoxoLexie

January 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLexie

I just featured this recipe over at All Gluten-Free Desserts ... All the Time, Lexie. It's perfect in the Specialty Drinks category. :-) I'm hoping that some parents will choose to make this and take it to the classroom Valentine's Day party vs "the other stuff." ;-)


This was so delicious!!! I was saying just yesterday to my husband I needed something else to drink besides water on my hcg diet. Then hours later I see this post. I was skeptical about the apple cider vinegar but so glad I tried it. It gave it a zing which we all liked! I made the peach passion. ALL of my kids loved it! This is going to be a staple in our house now! I can send it to school with my kids instead of juice boxes. They will be thrilled. My heart felt thanks for sharing this!!

February 9, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSunnie


I own a tea company Tupelo Honey Teas and I came by this posting. I NEVER thought to add some ACV to my teas for the zing. Where did you ever come up with that idea? LOVE IT!

I always make my tea without the sugar and I prefer it that way. Have you ever tried this recipe without sweetener? My kids will definitely want it the way posted above, but just wondering for myself.

Thanks! Can't wait to try this with some of my teas!

February 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDanielle

This looks so good! I've been looking for an alternative to Kool-aid and Crystal Light for my family and I would feel stellar giving this to my kiddos. I ordered CS Black Cherry Berry and can't wait to make this :)

February 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTris

Question about the vinegar --- when you use the Bragg vinegar with the "mother" in it ... do you shake up the bottle so everything gets mixed well? I have never used this kind of vinegar before, and this "mother" that's floating around in the vinegar seems kind of odd to me...

Thanks for enlightening me!

February 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDEB

Hi Deb! Great question. I don't shake the bottle. I am kind of like you ... it's odd looking and I leave it alone. The mother is really a fascinating thing. You can split her up and make more batches of vinegar (though I have not done that) ... I have done it with kombucha ... kombucha produces a mother a lot like the one you might see in the ACV bottle. It's actually a colony of living bacteria (good bacteria of course) Enjoy :)!


February 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLexie

Thank you SO MUCH for posting this!! My daughter can not have any red dye because it makes her ADHD uncontrollable. Each summer she sits by, watching her friends eat Popsicles and drink koolaid that she can't have. I am so excited to try this with her, and even freeze them as Popsicles!!

March 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrent Knott

What's the apple cider vinegar for?

March 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPamela

How much does each batch make? You say "plus more water" but don't say how much or show or say how big of a container you use. I just made some but even after sweetener and the AVC it still just tastes like tea to me. I'm not sure what I did wrong. I put it in a gallon container that I had water in previously and only added a little bit more water to it but it tastes kind of bland and not very flavorful. I wouldn't mind drinking it but I don't think the boys will like it. I'll test it out on them after it cools completely.

March 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKim

Hi Kim:
I say to "Fill jar (and that would be a one gallon jar, per instructions above that) the rest of the way with water." So this recipe makes a gallon. Kim, it could be the tea you used. What did you flavor it with? Etc. If you don't like it then this recipe may not be for you. If you are expecting juice or actual cool-aid (and it's sweetness) you may be let down. The intention of this recipe is to wean sugar-addicted folks off the sugar.

In the post it reads that "Raw apple cider vinegar is added for tang and it's HEALTH-PROMOTING PROPERITES." Check out that link and see what raw ACV is known to help with.


March 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLexie

I finally made it! I brewed it a little stronger since my kids are used to Kool-Aid. OMG so good! Yum yum yum! Thank you so much for coming up with this recipe. My family is eating a little healthier now, thanks to you :)

March 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTris

The jar glasses come with Armour dried beef

March 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterOllie

I did not find a flavor I thought I would so i opted for mixed berry green tea. Do you think it will work as well or have you tried it with green tea? Thanks


Nicki, I think a tea with some flavor undertone would work great. We like Country Peach or one of the berry blends. xoLexie

March 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNicki Pounders

I just LOVE this idea. Just magnificent! I have been looking for a powdered drink alternative for my family since we removed all processed food from our home and diet. My husband and I get into debates at the grocery store all the time over sugary drinks. I live in "Amish country" (Lancaster county P.A.) and in the warmer months I make what is commonly known around here called Meadow Tea. It is basically a cold sweet tea made from just garden mint. We love this because it is cool and refreshing, unfortunately it gets old if that is the only water alternative you have.
I can't wait to try this at home tonight!

March 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKalie Jo

Stevia has many of the same downsides as artificial sweeteners. There is very little research out there and only very refined forms are accepted by the FDA. I'd much rather have a little bit of natural sugar in my drink than Stevia until more research is done on it.

March 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLauren

What about adding knox gelatin to this for a natural sf ff jello? has anyone tried that? also what about lemon juice instead of ACV? does it give the same tang I wonder?

April 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHeather

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