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Fat Guy

Best method of making iced tea

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Brew up around 4 tea bags in about two cups of water, so the tea is really intense. Let it steep and steep and then cool. Dilute with cold water, lemon, a cinnamon stick if you like.

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In the South, traditionally if you're having a luncheon or something, and you want the tea to be particularly good, all your girlfriends expect you to make "sun tea."

When you arrive, you'll often see a big glass gallon jar sitting outside brewing, the little strings and paper labels hanging from under the lid.


I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Are teabags just assumed in all iced-tea discussions?

Obviously not.

I used to make iced tea frequently from loose tea leaves. Just don't do it much anymore.

And, if I had my girlfriends coming for, say, a bridge luncheon, and I'd brewed up some tea from some fancy ingredients, they'd probably ooh and aah, and try some, but they'd also expect me to have 'regular' iced tea available as well.

While we're on the subject -- it has been my good fortune to know a great many Brits throughout my life. Most of them make unpleasant faces at the thought of iced tea. It always seemed odd to me that they enjoy hot tea so much - why not iced tea? It's the same flavor after all.

So I've given this matter some considerable thought. And here is what I have decided.

Hot tea provides comfort and warmth. Especially when it's cold and damp and blustery outside, it nourishes the soul and spirit as well as the body. It makes one feel that one is part of a long and respected tradition.

In the US - in areas where I've lived anyway - people drink iced tea to quench their thirst. And it's largely a seasonal thing. When it's cold outside, I don't think of having a nice big frosty glass of iced tea. But when the temperature is hovering in the high 90's, for me there's nothing as refreshing as iced tea, especially with a squeeze of lemon and a sprig of mint.

So, my suggestion to the Brits who are trying to understand our mad fascination with that ghastly and horrid iced tea, I'd ask that rather than comparing the iced version of our tea, with your traditional cup of hot tea, compare it to a glass of lemonade. More as a cool drink when the weather is stiflingly hot.

I have never been in England when the temperature is hovering in the high 90's. I suspect that if it did so more often, the English would soon succumb to the delights of iced tea.

:rolleyes:


I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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I have never been in England when the temperature is hovering in the high 90's.  I suspect that if it did so more often, the English would soon succumb to the delights of iced tea.

:rolleyes:

I know that the British expats living in Thailand, where the temps hover around the 90's with great regularity, would still prefer their hot tea to anything.


Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

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I have never been in England when the temperature is hovering in the high 90's.  I suspect that if it did so more often, the English would soon succumb to the delights of iced tea.

:rolleyes:

I know that the British expats living in Thailand, where the temps hover around the 90's with great regularity, would still prefer their hot tea to anything.

Well - that's right. They did pretty much trot all over the world colonizing the blighters, didn't they?

And even when one went "out to the colonies" one preferred one's tea to be steaming.

So, maybe there's no hope.

:biggrin:


I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Of course if you talk to anybody who is serious about Chinese or Japanese tea appreciation, you'll find they look down their noses at British tea -- both the way the product is processed and the way it's served. So there's always somebody who thinks you're an idiot, no matter what you do. I bet most Brits just haven't had good iced tea. If they've only tried the crap served in most American restaurants, who can blame them for hating it?


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Okay, here are the results of iced tea experiment number 1:

I started with 6 teaspoons of loose leaf tea from the "T" tea shop in Vancouver. This particular one was the Sutton Place blend. I put it in an individual sized press pot. Meanwhile, I boiled a kettle of water and let it cool for 5 minutes to get it to what was probably about 200 degrees. I steeped the tea for 5 minutes before plunging and poured it into a 2-quart pitcher in which I had placed a standard size tray of ice cubes. I filled to the top with cold water. After awhile in the fridge, the ice was melted and the temperature was cold.

Obviously this produced an unsweetened (unsweet, if you're Southern) iced tea. It was a little weak -- I need a little more tea and perhaps a couple of more minutes of steeping next time. I'll also experiment with adding sugar while the tea is still hot. But already what I produced would qualify as 95+ percentile tea by restaurant standards. It had a real tea flavor and no bitterness.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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The only iced tea that interests me (with rare exception) is Southern style sweet tea. I grew up in North Carolina, and while people make sun tea as Jaymes described, nobody makes sweet tea with sun tea.

I worked in a food court Italian joint in high school that used Sysco tea and people came to us just for our tea even though they were buying their food elsewhere in the court. I have adapted the method I learned there to what follows. I was a big aficionado of sweet tea for a long time but haven't made it in a few years, and rarely order it when I'm with my folks in NC. I think my palate might not appreciate it as I've gotten older and know more about my food.

Here is how I make sweet tea at home:

Use tea bags. Cheap ones are fine. Nothing frou-frou, fruity, herbal, fancy, or unusual. Just standard tea. Get about five of them together. Take a medium saucepan of water and put in the tea bags. Simmer for about 8-10 minutes. Do not boil. Remove the tea bags and use a whisk to add a LOT of sugar. Like, too much sugar. (I do this by taste, and it really depends on the tea type and how much water you used.) You want the sweetness of the sugar to overcome the tannins in the tea so that the whole thing tastes smooth. I whisk it really hard and there's usually a fair amount of froth when I'm done. Let the mix cool for a few minutes and then pour into a large ice-filled pitcher. Drink a gallon or two. Chill any leftovers.

I don't put lemon in my iced tea. I like sweet tea and I like lemonade, but I don't like them together.

Perhaps I'll make some of this soon. It really has been a long time.

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If they've only tried the crap served in most American restaurants, who can blame them for hating it?

And not just the iced tea.

Perhaps a tad provocative?

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The only iced tea that interests me (with rare exception) is Southern style sweet tea. I grew up in North Carolina, and while people make sun tea as Jaymes described, nobody makes sweet tea with sun tea.

What everybody here does is to first make sun tea, then put it in a pitcher, and then people add as much or as little sugar, or lemon, or mint as they like.


I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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... make sun tea...

I remember reading a couple years ago that some outfit, that considers itself our protector, was warning against sun tea because the water doesn't get hot enough to kill the invisible creepy-crawlies in tea bags.


-- Jeff

"I don't care to belong to a club that accepts people like me as members." -- Groucho Marx

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... make sun tea...

I remember reading a couple years ago that some outfit, that considers itself our protector, was warning against sun tea because the water doesn't get hot enough to kill the invisible creepy-crawlies in tea bags.

I'm by myself now - only make sun tea when I'm entertaining. Most of the time, I just toss a couple bags in a glass of cold water, set it in the fridge overnight. Been doing that for years. Heat doesn't seem to make any difference tastewise - it just speeds up the process.

If there were seriously any bad bugs, I'd probably be loonier than I am.


I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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What everybody here does is to first make sun tea, then put it in a pitcher, and then people add as much or as little sugar, or lemon, or mint as they like.

The reason why North Carolinians don't make sweet tea with sun tea is that you need the tea to be HOT if it's to absorb the stupid amounts of sugar local tastes demand. This is also why I sneer at those who suggest I can add sugar to cold unsweetened tea at the table if I want it sweetened. Not the same!

It probably gets hot enough in Texas to make little difference, though.

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Our taste buds work differently with cold foods. Everything has to be more flavourful and sweeter if served cold. Personally I like my iced tea quite strong and tart. I take it Fatguy likes the taste of cold tea. Myself, I believe that's a good way to convince the Brits that Americans are whacky for loving the stuff. I like adding ginger, lemongrass or dried mint (for some reason it works better than fresh)and always using a good quality tea (larger leaves - less bitterness). I steep it 8-10 minutes, sometimes with a bit of lemon or lime zest if I don't have lemongrass handy. I never dilute with water. A sugar syrup will help avoid the problems associated with granulated sugar in cold liquids, although honey tastes so much better.

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Our "house pour" originally came from Cooks Illustrated, I think. Three tea bags (usually Lipton Yellow Label -- standard but not the cheapest) into a quart of water. Seven minutes in the microwave on high, three minutes of steeping, remove the teabags, and dump over ice cubes or keep on the counter. Each serving gets lemon, sugar, mint, or whatever. Keeping it in the fridge makes it cloudy.

I think the taste of the ice cubes is important. Our local water isn't the best, so we buy bar ice in bags. Seems to get colder and tase "cleaner".

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Well, I have spent most of my life in the south, and I have always hated sweet tea. Even as a kid, it was way too sweet for me. Malawry is correct that the sugar must be added to the hot product in order to allow the tea to absorb that much sugar. Sweet tea in the south may be the sweetest commercially available beverage.

The way we make iced tea is to brew kettle full of tea with Lipton or Tetley tea bags, then pour over large pitcher filled with ice. The melted ice should be sufficient to adequately dilute the tea. If it is still too strong add water, but not much. Iced tea is served in tall glasess that we call iced-tea glasses and garnished with sprigs of mint and choice of lemon or limes and sugar is optional. The fact that sugar is often added later is bolstered by the fact that there is a "tea spoon" set at every place setting at the southen table. Unlike the spoon used for formal tea service of hot tea, this spoon has an extra long handle and is designed to stir sugar into a tall glass of tea by reaching the bottom.

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What everybody here does is to first make sun tea, then put it in a pitcher, and then people add as much or as little sugar, or lemon, or mint as they like.

The reason why North Carolinians don't make sweet tea with sun tea is that you need the tea to be HOT if it's to absorb the stupid amounts of sugar local tastes demand. This is also why I sneer at those who suggest I can add sugar to cold unsweetened tea at the table if I want it sweetened. Not the same!

It probably gets hot enough in Texas to make little difference, though.

And the real reason is that I don't like sweet tea, so in truth, I guess I never learned how to correctly make it.

For some reason, sweet drinks just don't seem to quench my thirst. The way Jin feels about sweet meats (which I have no problem with), I feel about sweet drinks with food. Don't like sweet wine, or Coke, or really sweet lemonade, or sweet coffee, or tea (hot or cold). At least not with my meals.

On the other hand, when it's really hot here, which is from May through September, nothing tastes so good as a big glass of iced coffee, with lots of cream and sugar - but not with my dinner.

So, anyway, I didn't know that about the hot tea and the syrup.

They say you learn something new every day. On eGullet it seems I learn something every hour.

:rolleyes:


I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Iced tea is served in tall glasess that we call iced-tea glasses and garnished with sprigs of mint and choice of lemon or limes and sugar is optional.  The fact that sugar is often added later is bolstered by the fact that there is a "tea spoon" set at every place setting at the southen table.  Unlike the spoon used for formal tea service of hot tea, this spoon has an extra long handle and is designed to stir sugar into a tall glass of tea by reaching the bottom.

That calls to mind something that happened to me thirty years ago. I never really considered it much until I read your post.

When I got married, we received place settings of our silver pattern.

The "northern" relatives sent place settings with soup spoons. From the Southerners the place settings did not include soup spoons.... every one of them had an iced-tea spoon instead.

:biggrin:


I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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As Aix said, using a sugar syrup in unsweetened iced tea is the solution to the gritty problem created when adding granulated sugar to a tall glass with ice cubes. A small pitcher served with the tea is an appreciated gesture at several Portland restaurants. It allows you to control the sweetness to your taste. Rubbing the lemon around the lip of the glass instead of juicing the tea keeps it less cloudy. Wouldn't you rather drink warm water than the instant, pre-sweetened commercial products?


Judy Amster

Cookbook Specialist and Consultant

amsterjudy@gmail.com

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I didn't like how sweet "sweet tea" is when I visited Georgia. I usually asked for half-and-half, that is half sweet tea, half unsweetened. In the north it is never served sweet unless it is from a mix, ask if it is brewed tea. Sometimes I like it mixed with lemonade - takes care of the sweetness and the lemonyness and covers the bitter taste that a lot of iced tea in restaurants have.

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In the north it is never served sweet unless it is from a mix, ask if it is brewed tea.

Or if it's ordered in a Chinese restaurant. For some reason when ordering iced tea at local Chinese places you have to be very specific that you want unsweetened or you get sweetened by default. Often they don't even have it unsweetened and I gotta go with water...


=Mark

Give a man a fish, he eats for a Day.

Teach a man to fish, he eats for Life.

Teach a man to sell fish, he eats Steak

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FG, knowing your aversion to sweet tea (except when eating barbecue), you really have to keep your steeping time to a minimum to avoid an overload of tannic acid. As Malawry stated, we can generally steep like crazy because we add sugar to a point of super-saturation. We then dilute later on. If we didn't sweeten so much, the tannins would overwhelm you and eliminate much of the refreshing traits that we desire.

I routinely make both iced tea and iced coffee at work. For the tea, I steep a single cheapo tea bag in about 5 ounces of boiling water for 60 to 90 seconds. I add a little sugar, and then add ice to bring it to 16 ounces. This has the right flavor for me and isn't too sweet.


Dean McCord

VarmintBites

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Okay, I've done this a couple more times and I'm getting close to an iced tea that I'm really pleased with. Of the gazillion kinds of tea I have around, the current frontrunner for best iced-tea tea is Fortnum & Mason's Royal Blend. The numbers I'm working with right now are 5 teaspoons of tea in the mini press-pot for 5 minutes to make the base for two quarts of nicely concentrated, non-bitter iced tea.

I'll report on my sweetening experiments at a later date.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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