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The Iced Tea Topic

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Peets Coffee and Tea has their own black tea blend called Summer House Ice Tea, and can be had loose or in bags. They advocate making a double strength batch, then adding the same amount cold water; for some reason, even if you over-steep it doesn't get bitter. In the old days when I lived in NM I made a lot of sun tea, which was wonderful, but the weather here isn't the same and I find this Peets blend and method makes an excellent brew. If you don't live near a Peets you can order from them or even get this blend on Amazon.

 

After spending time last year in Georgia and North Carolina I admit to getting hooked on sweet tea, although I learned to ask for it "half and half" which was plenty sweet in my opinion. Sometimes I add a splash of lemonade or fruit juice, but usually I just crush up some mint and toss it in. I keep a jar of simple syrup in the fridge so we can sweeten our tea to taste by the glass. Needless to say I prefer this method to the giant pitcher of sweetened Lipton's.

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Hello- Goldfish Tea serves a Keemun as their house ice black tea.

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We made an interesting iced tea yesterday using a peach-plum shrub I made last week. Just a splash of vinegar shrub added to sweetened black tea and some bruised mint. My husband thought it was great. I liked it, but not as much as he did. 

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Now that it's summer and quite hot (105°F today), I keep seeing a lot of TV commercials touting the new ready-to-drink iced teas. The major brands in my local grocery stores are Gold Peak and Pure Leaf.

I've tried the unsweetened versions of both brands and think they're both bottled "Meh". :hmmm:  IMHO neither brand has that nice "iced tea made from brewed tea" flavor. 

 

Gold Peak iced tea actually has an ingredient list:  water, natural flavors, tea, caramel color, phosphoric acid

Gold Peak Iced Tea looks awesome. It has that nice dark brown color of a nice brewed iced tea. Who knew it was due to caramel coloring?  :blink: I try to avoid drinks with caramel coloring in them (you can Google why) (serves me right for buying something without reading the ingredient list first...but then, who knew iced tea had an ingredient list?!) and then I'm also freaked out that their iced tea has more "natural flavorings" than the tea itself. WTF?  :shock: Any SSB want to explain that?

 

Pure Leaf has an ingredient list, too, though it's shorter:  Brewed Tea, Citric Acid

I actually thought the Pure Leaf Unsweetened Tea had lemon in it because I could taste a tartness in it. Sort of like when you're in a restaurant and you order iced tea and the waitress puts lemon in your tea even though you requested no lemon and then she remembers you didn't want lemon so she fishes it out but when she brings it to your table and you take a sip you can taste a little bit of lemon. Yeah, sort of like that.

It turns out that citric acid, aka "lemon salt" or "sour salt" is used as a preservative. Perhaps Pure Leaf has enough of it in their tea that I can taste it and so I thought there was lemon in it.

 

I'm batting "0 for 2". 

Are there any other brands of ready-to-drink iced teas that actually taste like fresh-brewed iced tea? Or should I just make it myself?  :sad:

 

  

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All I can do is concur with you about those two teas - the Gold Peak (which I don't buy because of the 'ingredient list' you mentioned) and the Pure Leaf which I do buy occasionally down south when I am too lazy to just put some tea bags in a pitcher and wait for it to cool down. I also buy unsweetened. I too have noticed that slightly tart 'might be something resembling lemon in the background' taste in the Pure Leaf although it is still the better alternative between the two mentioned.

 

Sometimes you can find a store brand that isn't too awful depending on where you shop/live but 'brewed from fresh' flavour available at a grocery store .. not too likely I think. Most of them have something in them to 'preserve' them since they don't sell 'that' fast and had to endure shipping time as well, etc.

 

Sometimes I treat myself to an unsweetened green ginger tea at Starbucks (for way too high a price - I could buy a gallon or more of the crappy stuff for that price - but it is 'sort of' fresh).   

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I like Tejava and the Japanese brands, but, I too generally brew my own. I am partial to Darjeeling in the summer, and that's not a common brew.

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Toliver,

 

heidih's link to the bottled tea comparison at Serious Eats, is a good one, and backed up by Lisa Shock's testimony in her above post. My only problem is that these brands can be hard to find, even in the iced tea capital of the South, where I live. They may be more available in Bakersfield.

 

I would also direct you to another post on Serious Eats about refrigerator tea which is super easy to make; it just takes some time. This method doesn't dirty any extra pots, just the cold brew pitcher/vessel. Since you prefer unsweetened, like I do, it won 't be an issue for you trying to dissolve sugar into cold tea. It might be worth giving it a whirl since you're concerned about additives.

 

http://drinks.seriouseats.com/2012/07/the-food-lab-the-truth-about-sun-tea-forget-the-sun-cold-brew-tea-is-better.html

 

I just put some on myself, which amounted to drawing a gallon of water and plopping in 4 quart-sized Luzianne tea bags, putting the top on and putting the pitcher into the fridge. It's an experiment for me. I've never tried it before, but I'll try anything to make my life easier.  :smile:

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Tejava, as mentioned above, is my prepared tea of choice.  I rarely buy it, as I prefer to make my own, but this is the commercial product of choice at my place, as it is at the homes of several friends.

 

Tejava Ingredients    Tejava Site


Edited by Shel_B (log)

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I gotta say I love this description - it's perfect!

...

Sort of like when you're in a restaurant and you order iced tea and the waitress puts lemon in your tea even though you requested no lemon and then she remembers you didn't want lemon so she fishes it out but when she brings it to your table and you take a sip you can taste a little bit of lemon. Yeah, sort of like that.

...

 

When traveling in China a few years ago, I found bottled green tea was more readily available and cheaper than bottled water and more refreshing to boot.  I gotta try making some iced green tea.  Thanks for the reminder. 

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I'll have to give the Tejava brand a try. I am not sure my area grocery stores would even carry the Japanese brands. I'll have to check.

The main reason I brought this up is I wanted to be able to get a nice ready-to-drink ice tea already made for me...cutting out the brewing time wait. Yes, call me lazy.  :raz:

I do have a 3 quart Mr. Iced Tea maker (created by the Mr. Coffee brand) at home which makes great iced tea, of course. You can fill the pitcher with ice and once it's done brewing, you have "instant" iced tea. 

Thanks for your input.

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Well from a Ready to Drink standpoint my good friend who guzzles the stuff from morn to eve and is out and about lots has become a fan of the $1 big dinks which include iced tea at most big fast food joints like McD, KFC, etc    They usually have fresh lemon wedges if you ask and if you go inside you can do the ice level to suit. 

 

Edited to add: she doesn't eat the food there just enjoys  the tea


Edited by heidih (log)

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For those looking, I get the Tejava mostly at Smart & Final, IIRC Safeway carries it too. I don't live near an asian market, so, I pick up various bottles when I do venture out. I see the  Itoen around town, even at gas stations, but, it's a pricey treat.

 

Thanks for the link, Thanks for the Crepes! I already own a Bodum pitcher which I have never used because it's kind of small and seemed like a lot of work for a small return. If I don't have to boil water, I would make it a lot more frequently. (sometimes, I just hate heating up the kitchen, or I'm just too busy) I will test some black then some green tea and post an update.

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Phase 1 of the experiment completed.

I took 3 Twinings Darjeeling teabags (I hate teabags, but people know that I like tea and are constantly gifting me with them. I used bags because it seemed like the perfect way to use them up, and if it didn't work, well not much lost.) and added 40 oz filtered water. (I know this seems like a lot of water, but many times when I have used tea bags I have found the tea too strong. And, I figured that the powdery leaves would probably give off more flavor than whole leaf tea.) Also, I like to just drink cold tea, I don't like fussing with ice cubes, so, I don't like to make super-strength tea like a restaurant.

 

After 4 hours the water had a layered look, the darkest at the bottom and almost clear water on top. I stirred and tasted. It was a little weak, but overall tasted very good and wasn't too tannic. I left the teabags in and tasted an hour later. It seemed to be good, but still a tad weak. Actually, it was good enough that I caught myself wanting to drink more a few minutes later, but, I can't drink caffeine so late or I won't sleep. I left the teabags in the pitcher, will taste in the morning.

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Since we're having record-breaking temps here in the Northern Rockies these days, I read this thread with interest.

I love good iced tea, with lemon, very, very lightly sweetened. 

I used the SE method referred to above; 48-ozs. water, six tea bags and into  the fridge for five hours.  Turned out just like I like it.

First I used Earl Grey tea bags because that was all I could find in the cupboard but that was too fruity.

Then I found a box of good old Lipton and that was just right.  Like Goldilocks.

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Morning report:

Tea is now very good, much more tannic than last night. For my personal taste, I'll probably try to stop the process before 12 hours have passed. It's strong for me, but not so strong that I have to use ice cubes. I will test green tea once I have finished off this batch. Overall, I am liking this a lot, it saves energy, and it's easy.

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For those looking, I get the Tejava mostly at Smart & Final, IIRC Safeway carries it too. I don't live near an asian market, so, I pick up various bottles when I do venture out.

 

I just remembered, Trader Joe's in my area carries the Tejava.  Maybe it's elsewhere, too.

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I make 'sun' ice tea year-round.  This may not work in winter in colder climates, but certainly will work this time of year.

 

'Family size' tea bags are available at our local Dollar Stores and often on sale at grocery stores.  If you can't find the family sized tea bags, just use more of the 'regular' tea bags, any brand or flavor you like.

 

Put the tea bags in the water in a clear pitcher, cover tightly with plastic wrap and place outside in the sun for an hour or two (depending on how sunny it is); it'll 'brew' with or without the sun, though the stronger the sun, the clearer the tea, IMO. 

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The advantage to the fridge method is that it doesn't foster as much bacterial growth, you don't need a sunny spot, and you don't have to worry about retrieving a jar and then taking all that time to chill the container it's already in the fridge and cold. (here in PHX in the summer, my house is set up to not get any direct sunlight inside at all, I'd have to put it outside in 115°+ heat which is just involves the danger zone too much for my taste)

 

I own a variety of metal infusers (teabag taste hatred) so last night I set up some genmai cha. In the morning the rice flavor was very pronounced along with smoky undertones. The green tea component was a bit light. Perhaps green tea needs a little hot water boost to start -kind of makes sense since it isn't fermented like black tea. Overall the tea was good but I can barely taste the green tea. I'll set up some good gunpowder green tonight and see how that works out.

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In summer I buy the Lipton or Celestial Seasonings K-cups for when I just want a single glass of iced tea and no fuss.

They make unsweetened tea, which is my preference, and the tea is quite good.  It just needs a tiny bit of sugar and a squeeze of fresh lemon.

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Lisa Shock,

 

If green tea is your preference, you might want to go back to the Serious Eats article of fridge tea and search for "green" with your browser's find function. It's only mentioned in the comments section, but several say the cold-brew does not suffice to bring out its flavor.

 

I live in a hot climate too. It's not as hot per se as yours, but ours is much more humid, and I love this method that saves me from steaming and heating the kitchen.

 

Now I just have to figure out how to get my share of the tea before the husband scarfs it all up.  :laugh:

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Thanks, TFTC, I kind of alternate between types, but I suspect that darjeeling is going to become the go-to iced tea this summer. (I also like to cook Indian food, so it matches well.) After taking a bottle of the genmai cha to work and drinking it all day, I came to the conclusion that it tasted like drinking water infused with sushi and it was a really good thing that I don't sweeten my tea. I don't know that I would make that tea cold again, except maybe as part of a modernist meal. ('look this shot glass of water, it tastes like I'm eating sushi!')

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Lisa, thank you for the suggestion of Tejava brand ready-to-drink iced tea. I think we have a winner. The ingredients? Brewed Tea. That's it...that's all she wrote. It tastes pretty good for something ready-made coming out of a bottle...it has an almost fresh-brewed tea flavor.

Ironically, my local Von's grocery store had it on sale this past week so "Yeah!" for me. :wink:  I also discovered that Costco sells a multi-pack (6?) of Tejava in the larger bottles. The only thing that stresses me out about Tejava in the larger bottles is that the bottles are glass. I have to keep telling myself when handling it "Don't drop it. Don't drop it."  :laugh:

Thanks for the suggestion. Tejava (and the Lipton Sparkling Peach Iced Tea) will keep me satisfied for the rest of the summer.

 

Regarding the segue into brewing iced tea in this discussion, in my Mr. Icea Tea maker I brew decaf green tea, with one bag of decaf orange pekoe (for color) along with a bag or two of herbal Mandarin Orange tea bags. 

 

A warning though, drinking too much iced tea everyday can be a bad thing (click).

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Yesterday I was at Trader Joe's and double-checked to see if they were still carrying Tejava.  It's still on the shelf.  But, right next to it was a bottle of TJ's green tea.  I didn't have the forethought to check the label, but here's the article in the Fearless Flyer. 

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