When summer heat calls for a new brew, turn to an old favorite. June is national iced tea month in the United States.
Nothing adds a dose of coolness on a summer day quite like iced tea – especially home-made organic without artificial flavors, sweeteners or colouring. Whether you are a tea lover or simply looking for a glass of refreshment, you can turn basic brewed tea into an icy liquid treat that contains powerful antioxidants.
Equally popular at picnics, barbecues and at the beach, iced tea is the subject of legends. While iced tea recipes date back to the 1870s, legend has it that iced tea became popular in 1904 at the St. Louis World’s Fair. At the product showcase, a tea lover named Richard Blechynden added a bucket of ice to his tea because no one wanted to sample a hot beverage during the fair’s heatwave. The addition of ice made this product an instant hit.
In Hong Kong restaurants, iced lemon tea is always available. Black Ceylon tea is brewed in a metal pot, a scoop of syrup is added, and the mixture is poured into a glass filled with ice. Slices of lemon are added to the top. Lemon peel ensures that the tea’s oils are at their peak. In Thailand, ingredients as exotic as orange blossom water, star anise and crushed tamarind are added.
Although English breakfast tea and Earl Grey black tea are classic favorites, you can use green, mint, chai, white berry or chamomile. In fact, almost any tea you brew can be transformed into an intriguing iced tea that rivals store-bought at your favorite retailer.
Robust teas make for the best results in iced teas.
Start with filtered freshly-boiled water. If you don’t have a filter and are concerned about the hardness of your water, add a dash of baking soda.
Pour two quarts into a tea pot. Next, add 4 to 6 bags of tea if you are serving a full pitcher. Let the tea steep for about ten minutes depending on how strong you like it.
After you remove the teabags, cool the tea for an hour or two, and then pour the tea into an ice-filled pitcher.
Although iced tea doesn’t need any sweetener, adding honey or cane sugar to the pitcher can make it more appetizing. If your tea tastes too bitter, add a pinch of baking soda and let it seep.
Let the pitcher chill for 3 to 4 hours.
Serving up iced tea at a barbecue? Add decorative ice cubes to the pitcher for a dash of pizzazz. In your ice cube tray, add a mint leaf, petal of hibiscus, a citrus slice or a berry before freezing. Or, instead of ice water, add colourful juice that adds deep flavor and aroma.
No time for decorative ice? Other garnishes include edible flowers, sprigs of lemon balm.
To turn iced tea into Long Island Iced Tea, add a splash of cola to 1.5 cl vodka, gin, tequila, white rum and triple sec with 2.5 cl lemon juice.