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Friday, February 25, 2011

How to make perfect iced tea

What a terrific surprise to have April weather in February! I think mother nature’s paying Florida back for last year’s coldest winter in eighty years. Last week with temps soaring into the upper 70s/low 80s I scrambled happily back into my sandals, which never were put away, just passed by, waiting patiently. (This is Florida, and to put sandals away might be criminal or at least very poor judgment.) 

Along with my sandals, I needed iced tea. I’m a purist and brew my own. None of that stuff called iced tea in a plastic jug from the grocery is acceptable. As I brewed my first five or so pitchers, it occurred to me to share how to make really good iced tea. I’ve perfected my method over a few years.

7-8 tea bags (or loose equivalent)
4 cup glass or ceramic container (I use a large measuring cup)
8 cup glass or ceramic pitcher
Teapot to heat water

I make a quantity of 8 cups. Use glass or ceramic; plastic can transfer a host of undesired tastes. Prepare your pitcher with four cups of ice cubes. In a separate container, steep the tea in four cups of freshly boiled water for five minutes. Timing is critical--set a timer! Immediately, remove the tea bags or strainer of loose tea and pour the hot tea over the ice cubes. Trust me, it won’t crack the glass. Stir to speed the cooling. Flash cooling is the secret to stop the brewing before there’s time for the tea to get bitter and cloudy. 

As for varieties of tea, I generally use loose tea and like to blend my own varieties. Ones I especially like:

Assam mixed with green or white chain gives a nice malty black flavor which complements the spice
Any quality black tea with an orange herbal tea is very refreshing
Masala chai from Teavana makes a nice full-bodied spicy, black iced tea
Sadaf Special Blend with Earl Grey is a wonderful variety from Sri Lanka that makes delicious iced black tea with a flowery hint of bergamot

Note on blending: If I add a green or herbal tea with a black, I don’t decrease the amount of black. I like my black tea to have plenty of body.

What are your favorite iced teas? Please share. I always love to learn about new ones.


M. L. Archer said...

Very close to perfect tea! take hard plastic, gallon sized jug and place in it 5-6 tea bags. Then you set it outside for sun tea! 'Tis the freshest tasting tea in all the world, I promise!

Marsha A. Moore said...

Thanks, M.L. I like to make sun tea with herbals or green teas. Black seems to turn bitter for me that way.

L. K. Below said...

Hi Marsha,

I've never brewed my own iced tea but I adore iced tea so I think I'll give it a try. Thanks for sharing!

Tamara D Hanson said...

I grew up in Florida and we would brew sun tea. Oh, I miss that. It tasted soooo fresh. I can't find a sun tea jar now.

Casi said...

Not yet time for iced tea here. We've still got falling snow.

But for my favorite tea, I like sun tea in glass; and I like it strong, so I use 7 or 8 tea bags in a gallon. I also like it a little sweet so I add some Agave syrup when I can get it.

(Arizona bottled tea will do if it's too cloudy to make my own tea.)

Julia Rachel Barrett said...

My husband calls me an iced tea addict - but I like sweet tea - not teeth achingly sweet, but sweet. I think sugar syrup works the best.

Marsha A. Moore said...

Agave sweetener is wonderful! I need to get some more.(But Arizona tea is another matter.)Thanks, Casi!

L.K., the strangest part is pouring the hot tea into the glass with the ice. You'll swear it will crack. Never does!

Tamara, it is hard to find a large glass jar other than one with pickles, that forever smells of vinegar.

Marsha A. Moore said...

Hi Julia! I've been experimenting with slightly sweet teas now that we've moved to FL, since it's so popular in the south.

Hildie McQueen said...

After almost 17 years in the south, my daughter and I are experimenting with making sweet tea. Love trying new recipes, will definitely try yours. As a native Californian, sun tea bring back some great memories!

Marsha A. Moore said...

Thanks for stopping by, Hildie! :-)

N. R. Williams said...

I love mint tea. My end result is considerably weaker than yours.
N. R. Williams, The Treasures of Carmelidrium

Terry Odell said...

Definitely sun tea. When I lived in Florida, anything that avoided turning on the stove was a good thing.

I'm not much on regular tea (unless it's more like lemonade with a hint of tea flavor), but I love rooibos tea (sometimes called red tea.) It's not actually a 'tea' at all. No caffeine, and lots of anti-oxidants.

Terry's Place
Romance with a Twist--of Mystery

Pat Marinelli said...

I used to brew sun tea at Girl Scout camp. These days we have so much snow and cold I can't make sun tea but no way can I give up my iced tea.

My favorite, I used Boston Mint tea. 6 bags to my five cup tea pot, brew, pour over sugar, add lemon and ice and savor.

However, I have never met a tea I wouldn't drink, especailly if you pour it over ice.

Kim Bowman Author said...

I'm sorry, Marsha, I'm a Coke girl. I do like the occasional cup of warm apple cider - does that count?

Pat Marinelli said...

Kim, Coke would be my first choice so I don't let Hubby buy it. If I want it bad enough, I have to go out and get it myself. Although we have a deli here that has sandwich specials at lunchtime. You get the sandwich, a bog of chips and a can of Coke. Since Hubby is a Pespi drinker, I get to have two cans when we go to the dock for lunch. Unfortunately we live in New Jersey so those lunches have been few and far between this winter.

Marsha A. Moore said...

Nancy, I've fallen in love with a white mint tea from Stash teas, although I've not tried it iced yet.

Terry, I agree, red tea is great stuff, especially rooibos chai--yummy!

I'm not much of a pop/soda drinker. My husband always has Pepsi around. I like it with popcorn, but that's about it. Kim and Pat, thanks for visiting!

Jen said...

I LOVE my Tropical Herb Tea but it takes a day to make.

You'll need:

3 tbs hibiscus flowers
3 tbs mint leaves
3 tbs lemongrass
1/2 c chopped pineapple
2 oranges, sliced
1 papaya, sliced
1 mango, sliced

In 2 quarts of water, bring herbs to a boil and steep for 20 minutes. Strain out herbs. in a large bowl, mix the fruit and pour the tea over the top. Let refrigerate overnight. Serve chilled, with or without the fruit.

Marsha A. Moore said...

Wow! I'm looking forward to trying that one, Jen! I'm planting a lemongrass in my backyard this month and my mango tree I planted last year is flowering like crazy now. People warned me I'd have plenty of mangoes. This recipe is a must try! Thanks.

J Q Rose said...

Thanks so much for your recipe. I agree glass is best for brewing..I have always used the Miracle Whip jars for containers, but now they are plastic. Thanks goodness I saved a supply of them. I put 4 tea bags in an 8 cup measuring cup and begin to boil in the microwave..I know you're supposed to pour boiling water over tea, but this works fine. When I pour the hot tea over the cubes, I always place a teaspoon in the glass so the glass won't break--a hint from my mother.

Marsha A. Moore said...

Thanks for the good tip, J.Q.!