As warmer weather approaches, many tea drinkers will find themselves wanting to swap their cups of steaming hot tea for tall glasses of iced tea. Though the beverage market is swamped with a wide variety of ready-to-drink teas-everything from sugary and flavored to plain and sublime-making your own iced tea gives you the creativity to make your very own concoction with whatever tea you decide upon. It's easy to make and the options to personalize it are endless.
A quick recipe for one gallon of iced tea:
Measure out 64oz (8 cups) of fresh, cold water. Heat to desired temperature depending on the type of tea you are using.
Steep 3 1/2 Tbsp of tea leaves in the hot water for the same time you would do if preparing a cup of hot tea (ie, 5 minutes for black tea, 3 minutes for green, etc.)
Remove tea leaves from water and pour the hot tea over a pitcher of ice. This will dilute the tea and cool it down quickly. You can add more ice if need be. This step also prevents the iced tea from clouding. If you still experience any clouding in your iced tea, add a touch of boiling water.
Add any sort of additions you wish to, or enjoy plain.
Plain v. Flavored There is no right or wrong- it's up to you and whatever your palette is in the mood for! If you opt for plain, use the best quality whole-leaf teas you can find. You may want to stick with teas that have 'bright'notes; teas with inherent floral or fruity notes chill well. Teas with earthier, malty notes may not sound as appealing, but to each their own! Be adventurous; you might find something you enjoy hot makes a great cold, refreshing drink.
Flavored Iced Tea Flavored iced tea can be both plain tea with additions or a flavored tea as a based mixed with other ingredients to bring out their natural character. Here are some ideas for excellent add-ins:
Sweeteners: Sugar, honey, agave nectar all make for good sweeteners. If you opt to make a Southern-Style Sweet Tea, add sugar while the tea is steeping. If using honey or agave nectar, it also helps to add them to the hot tea first and then stir until dissolved. If you prefer to add sweetener once the tea has been poured over ice, a quick recipe of Simple Syrup can make it easier- Boil one cup of water with one cup of sugar until the sugar is completely dissolved. You can then add the syrup to the iced tea, or serve it in a squirt bottle so each person can sweeten at their own discretion.
Fresh or Frozen Fruit: Fruit can definitely jazz up any iced tea. If using a flavored fruit tea base, try a different kind of fruit to make a blend. Think of other fruits other than the usual lemon garnish. If using frozen fruit, they can also act as cooling agents for your iced tea. Chop up fruit into smaller pieces and add to tea after pouring over ice.
Herbs and Spices: Add by the teaspoon various spices to add flavor to your teas while your tea is still hot, so it will incorporate properly. Try steeping star anise, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, or ginger along with the tea to get the full flavor affect. Fresh herbs added to the tea once over ice will also help bring a certain complexity to your brew. Clean and trim fresh herbs such as mint, sage, lemongrass, lavender, basil, verbena, and lemon balm and add to your pitcher of iced tea. They'll add flavor and make for a nice garnish.
Other Additions: Try sweetening your iced tea with 1/2 Cup of fruit juice or fruit puree. Pomegranate juice adds healthy components (to an already healthy drink!) and it's flavor is not too strong to overpower the tea flavor. Garnishes can also make for a winning iced tea: citrus flowers and herbs like mentioned earlier, but also edible flowers can make a darling decorative touch if you float them on top. Try also freezing juice or tea in ice cube trays and adding to the tea for both flavor, color, and to keep the tea cold. Rim your serving glasses with sugar to add a little flair!
Here is a list of our most popular teas to make iced