With the weather warming, it’s time to start cooling down with iced tea!
There are 3 main ways to make iced tea; hot steep, cold steep and by making from a concentrate. I’ll be focusing primarily on the hot steep method and might cover the other two in later blog posts.
1. Use more tea
Tea, when served cold, will lose intensity and flavor. To make a great iced tea you’ll need to increase the overall amount of leaf, about 1.5 – 2.0 times of what you would normally use. Be careful not to over-steep (if you don’t know what this means, look back at our brewing blog.
Our taste buds have been trained to expect sweet things when eating chilled foods (think ice-cream and soda soft-drinks). Your cold infusion will probably need additional sweetening. Consider using agave, honey or good old sugar.
Tip: Don’t add honey to boiling water – it will break the honey down making it taste less sweet. Wait until the tea is warm to the touch and then stir in the honey.
3. Cool in stages
Allow your tea to steep in peace while hot, resisting the urge to stuff your still-steeping and immature tea into the fridge prematurely. This way you can give your brewing tea all the attention that a steeping tea requires.
Once the steep is complete, remove the tea leaves and allow it to cool for an hour or so to approach ambient temperatures. Cover the container with glad-wrap (oxygen will ruin even an iced tea) and put it in the fridge. Cooling your tea too quickly can cause a cloudy mixture.
Wait until just before serving to add in fresh fruit to have your iced tea looking fresh and lasting longer. Fresh fruit (like lemons, strawberry or limes) bring life, freshness and beauty to a delicious iced tea but chilling fruit in your iced tea for long periods of time will have your iced tea looking stale and sad (think apples left out for a few hours).
5. Don’t compromise at the end!
If you’re using a quality tea, free from synthetic flavor enhancers don’t give it all up at the end by squirting in nasty lemon juice concentrate or an artificial sweetner syrup. There are plenty of natural, tasty options.
There are many great recipes on the web and some of our staples at our café are rooibos, mint and black teas (not breakfast tea but more exotic loose leaf teas). Drinking a tea chilled compared to hot is a completely different flavor experience, so make sure to test your tea before serving.