Nothing is more refreshing than a deliciously sip of your home made iced tea. And with the summer season full of festive events we are challenging you to improve your iced tea brewing skills. In this article we share our tips and tricks on the perfect “do it yourself” brew of iced tea.
Forget the powder sticks that you can buy in the grocery stores, it’s contains lots of sugar and the benefit of brewing your iced tea yourself is that you can control the flavor. There are so many good flavors out there to experiment with. And isn’t is always more rewarding to make things from scratch?
Do you accept the challenge? Please let us know how it turned out and share with the tea community what your favorite flavors are.
What is the definition of iced tea?
Iced tea is a tea beverage that is served cold. We literally mean teas that are iced. There are also a lot of soda’s and beverages from well-known brands like Arizona Iced tea and Lipton Iced tea are sold in your grocery store. These beverages contain lots of sugar and therefore fall in the category “manufactured drinks”. When we talk of iced teas in this article we mean home made iced teas.
Ready? Let start with the basics.
How to brew iced tea in nine steps
Step 1: Choose your tealeaves
You can make iced teas from regular teabags from your favorite tea brands. But did you know that you could also combine teabags with fruits and herbs? Another alternative is to use loose tealeaves. It’s up to you! We do recommend using high quality tea. The regular teabags are often made from tea dust. The general rule is that the bigger the leaves in the teabag, the better the flavor. If you want to check your teabags for the size of the leave, just cut one tea bag open. By pouring the contents in a small bowl, you can asses the quality and size of the leave and decide if you want to use this tea for your recipe.
Use two to three teabags per pitcher. When the iced tea is served cold, the flavor is becomes dull. Therefore you need a stronger base to begin with. Also a stronger flavored tea, like jasmine tea or oolong will bring out good flavor notes.
Our favorite recipes with tea bags are:
Black iced tea with a fruity flavor – for example made with Pickwick forest fruits
Green iced tea with lemon – for example made with Pickwick Green tea Pineapple
Rooibos tea with a fruity flavor – for example made with Pickwick Rooibos Original
Infusions with added fresh ingredients:
Teabags that are a combination of herbs, spices and tea are good ingredients for iced teas. Not only can you experiment with different flavors, it also looks stunning on your table.
Here is our list of top eight fresh ingredients to add to your iced tea:
- Mint leaves
- Ginger (cut in slices)
Our favorite recipes added with fresh mint leaves are:
Black spices infusion iced tea of Pickwick Sweet apple
Green iced tea with Pickwick Mint
Herbal iced tea of Yogi tea’s Egyptian Licorice Mint
This is brewing iced teas like a pro! Loose teas really are a excellent way of getting your flavor to your liking. The leaves are bigger and give of more flavor notes to the hot tea. Loose tea is available in many blends and all types of tea can be used for iced tea.
For the visual effect our your home made iced tea, you can use a tea flower as well. The effect is best if you use a glass pitcher. It really is an eye catcher on your diner table.
Step 2: “Make them bubbles pop”
Boiling water and releasing the tealeaves or tisane into the water makes a pot of hot tea. With iced tea, this process starts the same. Boil your water with a kettle. If your water doesn’t reach the boiling point, then white foam appears on your tea and it reduces the quality of the tea. You can also use filtered tap water of bottled water to positively affect the taste.
However, since you are boiling water, using regular tap water is the most environmental choice. It really depends on your location and preferences how you usually get boiling water.
Step 3: Determine the straining method
Think ahead and choose if you want a flavor that keeps evolving or want to make a pitcher of iced tea with a regulated flavor. If you are using tea flowers, then keep in mind that every cup is a different experience. So the straining part of the brewing process is dependent on your choice of tealeaves.
If you mix ingredients and tea blend in one recipe and you aim for a clear substance, then a strainer like Teevana’s perfect tea maker is really suited for the job. Because the tea remains in the strainer, it is really easy to make several cups of fresh iced tea. This device is available in a 16 oz. and 32 oz. version. Ideal for larger batches of home made iced tea.
It is also very useful if you want to taste your brew. Because you can put this handy tea equipment over any cup, its is easy to release a little bit of your iced tea in a tasting cup. If you are not happy with the taste, you can either let the tea steep a little longer or add ingredients to the brew.
Step 4: Let your hot tea steep
This is the moment where the magic happens. Tealeaves release their aroma when it mixes with boiling water. Generally let the tea steep for about 3 to 5 minutes. Allowing tea to steep to long brings out the tannins in the tea and can make it bitter. For weaker tea, reduce the steeping time rather than taking away tea bags for better flavor.
Step 5: “Sweet it hot”
Iced teas can be served with and without sugar. It really depends on your personal taste. Adding sugar does negatively impact some of the health benefits of tea. But if you want your tea to taste like “Sweet iced tea”, sugar is the ingredient to do sweeten the flavor. Add the sugar to the iced tea brew while it is still hot. Stir the sugar about 10 seconds. Then it will mingle well with the brew. If you add sugar while the tea is iced, the sugar grains are not melted yet. The grains will be left behind in your glass that way. If you want to experiment, you can use other sweet liquid ingredients like honey, agave or maple syrup.
Step 6: “Let it cool”
Most people will immediately put the fresh brew of hot tea in the refrigerator. It’s something we are so used to doing we don’t even think about it. Well, if you want the best quality home made iced tea. Think again. It is recommended to let the brew cool down outside the fridge and place it on room temperature. Otherwise your brew will become cloudy. So, the secret is in the cooling process. And it is actually a slow one. Once your brew is cold it is ready for consumption.
Step 7: “Ice cube magic”
If you want to speed things up, you can help the cooling process by pouring the hot contents over a glass filled with ice cubes. It is a quick method, but you will make the taste of the brew a little bit weaker. The water of the ice cubes is not melting with the flavor notes of the brew. The hot water will just evaporate the ice cubes. If you want to use this method, then make a stronger brew to begin with. To make a brew stronger, use more ingredients rather then letting your tea steep longer.
Step 8: “Keep it cool”
Iced tea is best when it is freshly made. Planning your barbecue of diner party? Keep in mind that making your brew takes up to a half hour. The initial steps are super fast; within 5 minutes you’ll have your brew ready. It just takes some time to cool down. Always in a rush before a diner party? Why not prepare your iced brew a day before your big barbecue or event and refrigerate it. Let your brew cool down before you refrigerate it to prevent a cloudy looking iced tea. It stays good for about 2 to 3 days. Better to make a new fresh batch then if you want more!
Step 9: Add a little detail
Presentation is everything! Your brain “taste” with all the senses, not just with your mouth. The type of glasses you use will influence your taste. Are you ready to “wow” your guest with your home made brew?
Here are our favorite decorating tips:
- use fresh ingredients like lemons wedges to make your glass festive
- you can sparkle things up by using lemon juice and sugar to make a decorated edge of your drinking glass.
- or use attributes like palm tree or flamingo straws
And that is how you brew your own home made iced tea! Enjoy!