Tuesday, July 3, 2007

No Fail, Ready to Drink Sweet Iced Tea

Hot tea is okay (apologies to the rest of the Anglosphere). I like it, though I don't like the tannin — what's good about drinking something that makes you thirsty? So unless I'm in someone else's home and they offer me (hot) tea, I only drink iced tea.

Well no. Sweet tea (not to be confused with sweetened iced tea. A glass of tea with one teaspoon of sugar in it is sweetened iced tea, but it ain't sweet tea.) I have a brother and sister-in-law who swear by sun tea, and I've had tea at their home and it's great. The problem with sun tea — as well as the traditional method of making iced tea — is that you have to wait at least a good hour before it's cold enough to drink.

Here's how we made tea when I was a kid (well, after my parents went through the instant Nestea fad, and that didn't last long). The downside of this method is that you may have to do it a couple of times before you get it just right. The upside is it's ready to drink as soon as you make it.

You need a pitcher. Fill it to the top with water and measure it, if you don't know how much it holds. Measure half the amount the pitcher holds and bring it to a boil (there's a reason God gave us microwaves). Add sugar and teabags. Steep twice as long as you normally would — you need the tea to be twice the strength you want it when you drink it. This is why you may need to do this a couple of times before you get it just right.

I make two quarts of tea, and use a cup of sugar. That's sweet tea.

Fill the pitcher to the very top with ice. Discard the teabags, stir well to make sure all the sugar is dissolved, and pour over the ice into the pitcher. The hot tea will melt half the ice, and exactly fill the pitcher. You only need to let it sit a minute or so before it's really good and cold.

Sweet tea. It's what's for . . . uh, never mind.

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