As warmer weather approaches here in the Northern Hemisphere of this orb we call Earth, tea drinkers start contemplating how to enjoy their favorite brew (tea!) cold instead of hot. Making tea quickly and easily is very important when you’re trying to “beat the heat,” so an iced tea maker is a good option.
A word or two about tea served cold is good to interject here. First, if you plan to add ice to your tea, steep it up stronger so that the ice does not dilute it too much (personally, I avoid the issue by chilling my tea overnight in the refrigerator instead). Next, if you are making “sun tea” (filling a gallon-sized jar or larger with water, adding teabags, and setting it in the sun for a few hours to steep), be sure to start with clean water to avoid dangerous bacteria growing in it during the steep. Finally, choose which tea to use with care, since some become bitter or have too weak a taste when served cold (I’ve tried a few to see which worked best for hubby and me). A tea blended to be served cold will have less tannin and therefore be less likely to come out bitter.
On to the iced tea makers.
In our modern age, quick and easy is not only possible, it is essential. Thus, even us diehards who cling to our teapots for hot tea can see the benefit of a special tea maker for cold tea. For one thing, some models such as the Mr Coffee 3-Quart Capacity Deluxe Iced Tea Maker can make iced coffee in addition to iced tea. Since US households often have both tea and coffee drinkers in them, such flexibility is a very good thing. You may find yourself having one for tea and one for coffee so the flavors don’t get mixed. This model, like many others, lets you adjust brew strength, quite handy if you tend to switch from steeping black tea to steeping green or white.
The Hamilton Beach 2-Quart Iced Tea Maker has this brew strength adjuster, too, and the pitcher that is part of it can fit in your refrigerator door (depending on the model of ’frig you have, that is). I tend to prefer the more classy-looking glass pitcher of the Back to Basics 2.5-Quart Iced Tea Maker, perfect for serving at a Summer tea party with lemon slices floating in the freshly steeped tea.
If the high-tech route of a tea maker isn’t for you, try a more old-fashioned manner:
- Ice method — Boil water, add tea to a steeping vessel such as a teapot or even a large measuring cup. Use about twice as much tea as usual and steep for the normal amount of time. Strain (if you are using loose tea) into a pitcher and add sweetener if needed. It’s important to sweeten the tea when it is hot to assure proper dissolving of the sugar, honey, etc. being used. Add plenty of ice for a quick chill and to dilute the tea to drinkable strength.
- Refrigerator method — Boil water, add the usual amount of tea that you use for hot tea, steep the normal time, strain, sweeten, let cool to room temperature, and then put in the refrigerator overnight.
If you’re serving a crowd or own an eatery, go for the larger models made by Bunn, a company specializing in drink dispensing equipment and founded in 1957. There’s the Bunn 45-Gallon Iced Tea Dispenser for use with concentrates, or go for a brewing model like the Bunn 5-Gallon Iced Tea Brewer and matching dispenser.
Chill out with ease as the temps start to climb when Summer approaches with some iced tea!
Watch for William I. Lengeman’s article “Iced Tea: Themes and Variations” on this blog next week.
Slurping allowed on A.C.’s blog, Tea Time with A.C. Cargill.
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