Courtesy of Annaliese Keller: www.malabartradingco.com
It’s summer and time to leave behind the teapot, cups and saucers, milk and little finger sandwiches and pastries, and indulge in a long, cool drink of the most refreshing beverage on the planet. Served with mint or with lemon, sweet or plain, caffeinated or not, black, green, white, herb or fruit-laced, or spicy, exotic chai – the possibilities for iced teas are endless.
Iced or cold tea has been served since the early 19th century, according to recipes in English and American cookbooks. The development of refrigeration and the manufacture of pure ice in the mid-1880s greatly added to the popularity of iced tea, which was sold at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair and again at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair.
The antioxidant properties of tea have attracted many new drinkers in recent years. Almost any tea that is brewed hot can be served iced as well. Tea contains virtually no calories until it’s sweetened or milk is added, so it’s a good summertime alternative to calorie-laden soda and juices.
Don’t be afraid to experiment and create your own blends! ! If you enjoy a light, full- flavored, brisk iced tea, use an autumnal flush Darjeeling or Ceylon tea. Use full- flavored, malty Assams for a heartier iced tea. It’s a good idea to blend teas with “base notes” such as a Nilgiri or Assam, and to use some tea with the higher fruitier or flowery notes of a Darjeeling.
Remember, once the tea is chilled, you’ll lose some of the subtle flavor nuances of the tea since your palate will be slightly numbed by the cold. Thus, blending a couple of teas with different flavor profiles will provide a wider range of taste. Flavored green and white teas also make excellent, delicately flavored iced tea.
Oolongs make exceptional iced teas! If you like a certain tea hot, there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy it cold. Adding a little sugar or agave syrup to tea will enhance the flavor of the iced version.
Brewing iced tea is simple to do. Start with fresh, cool drinking water. Use premium loose tea for best flavor and do not over-steep or the tannins will make the tea bitter. You can keep your brewed tea at room temperature for a few hours, but try to serve your tea as soon as possible after infusing. Chilling tea can cause it to cloud, but this does not affect the taste.
Note: Do not make “sun tea.” This process can easily grow out dangerous bacteria that can make you quite ill and may be more responsible for summertime tummy-bugs than anything else! Preparing tea using the traditional method takes only minutes, and is the safest preparation.
Follow the easy directions below for preparing a delicious, gourmet quality, iced tea. You can easily double or triple the recipe. The main caution is not to over-steep your tea.
2 quarts fresh drinking water
1/4 cup black loose tea*
3/4 cup sugar (optional)
Bring 1 quart of fresh drinking water to a boil, remove from heat and stir in loose tea. Let steep for 3 to 3-1/2 minutes. Steeping time can vary depending on how strong you like you tea but anything over 4 minutes will create a bitter tea.
Strain thru a strainer and discard the leaves. DO NOT PRESS THE TEA LEAVES as pressing will make it bitter. Add sugar, honey or agave if desired, and stir until sugar is dissolved.
Immediately add the remaining quart of cool drinking water and allow tea to cool slightly. Fill a tall glass with ice and pour tea over ice. Serve with lemon slices or fresh sprigs of mint.
*If using green or white tea, follow the water temperature directions suggested on the package. Green and white teas use a much lower brewing temperatures.