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iced tea

There are so many ways to brew iced tea.  They can be brewed hot and then refrigerated or they can be brewed cold.  And it can be made with virtually any loose leaf tea. But as with hot tea, the quality of the tea leaf and water used, as well as water temperature and steeping time, makes a HUGE difference in the flavor of the final tea.

Brewing Hot: Use the brew instructions listed here on our Brewing Guide page.  Remember, you are using double the amount of loose leaf tea so that when ice is added it will not be diluted. Once the tea has steeped for the appropriate amount of time allow it to cool to room temperature prior to refrigerating to help prevent “clouding”.  Or, pour over ice and serve. Below is a more detailed explanation.

The favored method for brewing hot is to brew up a concentrated batch of tea. Use only half the amount of water desired in the final amount with the appropriate amount of loose leaf tea (for example: the final amount of tea desired is 16 oz, use 8 oz water heated, 2 tsp loose leaf tea), steep for the appropriate amount of time, and then either pour over ice directly in a glass or add ice to the pitcher. The ice will dilute the tea concentrate to the correct strength.

A few tips for brewing hot for iced tea:

  1. Do not over-steep. This will produce a bitter astringent brew.

  2. For a stronger tea, rather than steeping longer (see above), add more loose leaf tea.

  3. Steep using the appropriate temperature and time for the type of tea you are brewing up.

  4. For full strength and full flavor tea double the amount of tea leaf so that ice doesn’t over-dilute the final brew.

Cold Brew: Cold-brew is probably the easiest method to use. It produces a very smooth cup of tea. It takes very little effort. There is no chance of over-steeping or steeping at a temperature too hot. The flavor is a bit milder than with hot brewed tea. And there is less chance of “clouding”.

To cold-brew tea just simply measure out the tea leaves as you would for hot tea (1 tsp per every 8 oz of water) and add the appropriate amount of water (the same amount as you would if you were making hot tea). Give a quick stir and put the pitcher in the refrigerator for a minimum of 4 hours (we prefer overnight for more flavor). The next morning strain off the tea leaves and it’s ready to enjoy.

Sweetening Iced Tea: If you’re sweetening with sugar (a crystallized sweetener that will need to dissolve such as coconut sugar or cane sugar) you will want to use the hot brewing method and dissolve the desired amount of sweetener in the tea concentrate while it is still hot.

Sweetening cold brew, or tea after it has been cooled to room temperature or in the refrigerator, can be a little trickier as the crystalized sweeteners that need to be dissolved do not dissolve as quickly or as easily. If we are sweetening already cooled tea or cold-brewed tea we will use either a simple syrup made with cane sugar or we’ll have liquid stevia extract on hand. Honey does not emulsify/dissolve well in cold liquids.

Another option is to add a bit of Stevia Leaf to the loose leaf tea during the brew. Only a small amount is needed as Stevia is very sweet. We start off with just a little pinch to each cup of tea brewed. A little goes a long way.

“Cloudy” Iced Tea: It’s not the prettiest sight to see.  But there’s nothing wrong with it.  It’s still drinkable.  The cloudiness will not affect the flavor at all.  But what causes the tea to cloud in the first place?  Generally, it is from cooling too quickly. It is believed that it can be caused by the polyphenols (antioxidants) contained within the leaves and how they bind with minerals in the water.  It is also said that it is due to the tannins and caffeine binding together. Temperature brewed can also be a factor, as well as how fast it is cooled (the faster the more clouding). The only teas we have tried that have NOT clouded are lower-quality commercial teas.  If it is true that clouding is caused by the antioxidant, tannin, and caffeine content in the teas this may speak to the quality of commercial teas.

You can lessen the likelihood of clouding by a couple of different methods:

  1. Hold the temperature at room temperature and serve within a few hours of brewing over ice.

  2. Allow your brewed tea to come to room temperature prior to refrigerating.

  3. Cold brew your tea.

  4. Only brew enough that you will consume in a 24 hour period eliminating the need to refrigerate.

  5. A pinch of baking soda may help to “neutralize” the tannins – we’ll have to give this a try to see if it really works 😉

Our Favorite Iced Tea Blends: We have several teas that are our favorites to brew for iced tea. While there are many others that make great Iced Teas, these are our house favorites.

  1. Tropical Delight – a flavorful black tea blend

  2. Mango Black – a delicately mango flavored black tea

  3. Sweet Summer Green – a light and airy fruity flavored green tea

  4. Dilly Dally – a wonderful summer herbal blend

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