Here in Atlanta, with this heat and humidity, iced tea is a must. The Southern tradition is sweet tea, but if you've got real tea, you might find it better with less. Drown it in sugar, add a touch of honey, or keep it clean and nsweet--enjoy it however you like! The only thing we ask, is please use some good quality tea. Not those dusty old bags, but fresh, loose leaf tea that will impart rich and complex flavors. Below are three ways to make iced tea, along with three sample recipes.
1. FLASH CHILL: HOT BREW, THEN ICE
This is the quickest way to make iced tea if you need a quick fix. Brew your tea in half the amount of hot water needed at the recommended temperature for 8 minutes; then add 1.5x the amount of ice as water and stir. This method works best if you brew tea hot in a separate container and then pour the hot water into a pitcher with the ice, that way you won’t have to wait for the tea vessel to cool.
Directions (makes one 64-oz pitcher): In a separate container, steep 4 tablespoons of loose leaf tea in 4 cups hot water just below boiling (200°F) for 8 minutes. If desired, add sugar or honey while tea is steeping, 1/4 cup if you like it lightly sweetened to 1 cup if you want it truly sweet. Pour hot tea over 6 cups of ice cubes in pitcher and stir. Garnish with fresh sliced peaches and enjoy.
2. HOT BREW, THEN REFRIGERATE
This is a great no-fuss option if you want to make some tea to have around and aren’t in a hurry.
Directions (makes one 64-oz pitcher): Directly in the pitcher, steep 4 tablespoons of loose leaf tea in 8 cups hot water just below boiling (200°F) for 8 minutes . Again, you can add in your sweetener at this time if you’d like, from 1/4 cup to 1 cup. Place the pitcher in the fridge, covered, for at least four hours to let it cool and the flavors to set. Serve over ice garnished with fresh lemon.
3. COLD BREW THAT STUFF
If you have the patience for it, it’s definitely worth cold brewing your tea to experience the difference. Cold brewing tea will yield a slightly different flavor profile and a different mouthfeel, in large part because there is no heat to draw out the tannins and astringency; rather the flavors develop slowly and more fully over many hours. It’s easy enough to prep this tea in the evening, let it steep overnight– then drink it all the next day. Depending on the tea, you might use 1.5x to 2x the amount of tea suggested for a hot brew for richer flavor, although the tea recommended in the sample recipe below actually cold brews a really full flavor using the normal serving size.
Directions (makes one 64-oz pitcher): Add 4 tablespoons of loose leaf tea and 8 cups room temperature water to the pitcher. Place the pitcher in the fridge, covered, for at least 12 hours and up to 16 hours. Because this tea doesn’t start out hot, if you want it sweet you’ll need to use a liquid sweetener for it to dissolve such as simple syrup, honey or agave. Enjoy over ice or chilled straight up, with sprigs of fresh mint.