So I want to serve tea at my next dinner party, but it’s just too damn hot now for hot tea. So I’m thinking I’ll serve iced tea. The thing is, I’ve never been a big fan of iced tea (this is how they know I’m not a native Southerner), and so never learned any clever iced tea recipes.
Any recommendations on which leaves are suited to it?
I actually found this recipe earlier this summer, and it rocks.
Earl Gray tea (bagged or loose, doesn’t matter; I used 4 teabags per quart)
Lemon, sliced (1 smallish lemon per quart)
1/4 cup sugar (made into a simple syrup; I prefer sugar-in-the-raw for this recipe)
1/3 cup orange juice
Bring the water to boil; add the teabags and sliced lemon to the water, steep; while steeping, make the simple syrup (i.e. dissolve the sugar in an equal amount of boiling water), add the syrup to the tea and stir it in. Allow to cool in refrigerator. Remove tea bags and lemon if you wish, and add orange juice. Serve over ice. Enjoy!
My main tea tends to be varieties from Assam, which get quite strong and IMO are the only kinds which are generally better with milk. Making an iced milk tea can be a whole other kind of delicious, but a little heavier.
Sometimes I like to brew some double-strength Assam (nice malty loose leaves with a bit of gold tips) with some green cardamom pods and/or cloves. When hot I prefer it with a little raw cane sugar, but this doesn’t stay in solution well with cooling tea, so I might resort to white granulated. Then mix it with milk and serve over ice. If you don’t mind it even more sweet and milky, then add sweetened condensed milk instead of sugar and milk.
Other good flavors to experiment with steeping are accents of a bit of cinnamon and/or dried ginger and/or fennel seeds and/or a faint hint of black peppercorn.
As a baseline, your standard sweet tea is orange pekoe brewed normally and then sugar dissolved into it while it is still hot. Let it cool to room temp, then serve over ice. Not fancy, but most everyday-drinker home and restaurant iced tea is that.
I used to sub maybe a quarter green tea and only put in sugar until I could just taste it; sorry I don’t remember the proportions
I’m cooking for the next party Sunday, so I’ll be hitting the tea house tomorrow after work for fresh leaves and trying some of these out tomorrow and Friday evening. Fortunately I have a pretty extensive spice rack as I find you can never have too many different seasonings to choose from.
That said, I’m taking notes on all of this to experiment and add another drink genre to my toolkit. I’ve been thinking that tea would be a good substitute for serving espresso and arguably a lot healthier for everyone.
I suppose you’ll be expected to serve sweet tea if you’re in the South. My San Diegan family always preferred unsweetened iced tea on hot summer days. There wasn’t much to it; half a dozen or so Lipton bags in a glass jar left in the sun for an hour generally did the trick, and then we’d pour it over ice (any remaining in the jar was stashed in the fridge, but we drank it like water, so we always had a jar of sun tea steeping).
When my parents retired to the Ozarks in the 90s they suddenly found it hard to find iced tea that wasn’t heavily sweetened in every restaurant they went to, so they kept just making their own sun tea with those same damn Lipton bags. It’s not a very interesting family tradition, but that’s the way we do iced tea.
The tyranny of sweetened tea must be ended!! It’s damn near impossible to find unsweetened without making it yourself, here in the north at least. I know some areas of the south you will get asked.
These days it’s 8 bags of Tetley British Blend black tea in a quart of water, then diluted to what you feel like at the moment. Strong in the morning, weak at night. Usually with a big slice a of lime, sometimes with some mint leaves from the garden in season. We find this tea better than your typical supermarket teas but not crazy expensive like Twinings. When I could easily get rough cut Ti Kuan Yin oolong in Chinatown that was my goto. I could buy 7" cube tins full of paper tea sacks, I still have those tins all over the place with everything from pistachios to cigars in them. What’s really weird is when you pour Ti Kuan Yin concentrate over ice it turns milky!
I guess I’m talking about bottled, it’s all sweet or artificially sweet. Snapple once had unsweetened, but I haven’t seen it in a store in ages. In the restaurants I guess it comes unsweetened a lot of the time, but I always ask.
Oh! That’s different! Pretty much all bottled drinks are generally going to be sweet.
But yeah, try asking for sweet tea north of North Carolina or west of the Mississippi River… They hand you a spoon and some sugar packets… One day, I should map out the northern border of sweet tea land and figure out where the real south ends.