Summer has finally arrived in Minnesota (at least for a few days) and iced tea is the order of the day. The question is, how to make it.
The traditional way is simple. Brew a pot of hot tea, very strong, and pour it over ice. This is quick and doesn’t require any planning ahead. Great! However, if you ever try this with a tea containing mostly Assam teas, the effect of icing the tea is most unappetizing. When brewed hot and then chilled, Assam teas become something that resembles the Mississippi River at New Orleans. Muddy water! That is sad, because Assam teas have a bold flavor when iced and are great as the base when making flavored teas. (See the Quick Tip below for a solution to this problem!)
Cold brewing to the rescue! Cold brewing solves the problem. Cold brewed teas come out clear and flavorful. Of course, the infusion time is longer, so some planning is required to have tea available when its wanted. Cold brewing will work with any tea, black , oolong, green, white, or herbal and fruit tisanes. Finely cut teas will infuse much faster than whole leaf teas. Using good teabags, the tea will be ready in roughly one hour. Whole leaf teas or tisanes may require sitting overnight for best results. Over infusion is not a problem with most teas, so there is no need to carefully time removal of the tea leaves. When the tea is strong enough for your taste, remove the tea leaves.
Warning: Tea fanatics may want to skip ahead to the list below!
Most great teas make great iced teas as well. However, for many circumstances, making iced tea is far more about quantity than ultimate quality. Iced tea for 40 people on a hot day will not fit in a refrigerator overnight! Producing large quantities requires tea that will infuse quickly and yield a pleasant, if not remarkable, tea. British teabag brands are the ticket. British teabags typically contain 2.25 to 2.5 grams of tea (American teabags are typically under 2 grams) and the blends are selected to produce relatively strong teas (because they usually add milk). Brands that we have used with good results include PG Tips, Yorkshire Gold, Glengettie, Murroughs, and Barrys. Any of these will produce a strong iced tea using 8 teabags for each gallon of water with 1 – 2 hours of infusion time.
Loose teas that we particularly like include:
- Assam Satrupa Estate – a CTC tea that infuses fairly quickly. Clean, malty flavor.
- Nilgiri, Iyerpadi Estate – an organic tea with classic flavor for iced tea.
- Moroccan Mint – a green tea/spearmint blend. Very refreshing. Don’t over infuse! This one can get too strong.
- Prairie Passion – a tropical fruit flavored black tea. Sweet, but no sweeteners!
- Peach Paradise – An fruit blend (no tea) with peach and tropical fruit. Allow plenty of time to infuse.
Sweet teas seem to be the rage these days (at least if the fast food places are any indication). Personally they’re not high on my list, however, they are easy to offer in a wide range of flavors for relatively little cost. The key is flavored syrups, ala Torani and Monin, to name two. These are flavored, sugar sweetened, syrups that come in a wide variety of flavors. Start with black iced tea and add the flavored syrup of your choice to taste. Generally couple tablespoons of syrup will be enough.
QUICK TIP: Ever poured a pot of hot tea over ice and then had it turn to mud in the refrigerator? You know what I mean! It’s not lost! Remove it from the fridge and add a little hot water to it. It should clear up almost instantly!