The Ladies' Tea Guild

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Iced tea for Memorial Day.

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Iced tea is a particularly American beverage, and we’re starting to see the warm weather here in San Jose that makes iced tea really refreshing. Some Americans have even set aside the month of June as National Iced Tea Month! Since tea is naturally calorie-free and contains antioxidants and minerals, iced tea is a great choice for a refreshing warm-weather drink, although there are some Americans who love it so much they drink it year round! There are three main ways of making iced tea: hot-brew, cold-brew, and sun tea. [NOTE: the information below is for black or oolong teas. If you want to use green or white tea to make iced tea, use less-than-boiling water for the hot-brew method.]

To use the hot-brew method, basically, you make a pot of tea in the regular way, with boiling water in a heated teapot, but you add extra loose tea or tea bags -- about 1 1/2 times as much as you normally would -- to make a strong infusion. So, instead of using 4 teabags and 4 cups of water, you'd use 6 teabags for 4 cups of water. Add your boiling water to the pot and steep as usual, then pour the hot tea into a large heat-proof bowl or container, straining out the tea leaves or removing the tea bags, to cool, and then refrigerate. When it is thoroughly cold, pour the tea over ice cubes in a tall glass and serve. The tea will last, refrigerated, for a few days before it needs to be discarded (or used to water your garden).

To use the cold-brew method, fill a container with cold fresh drinking water and add your tea. This is my favorite way to use tea bags, since the small pieces of tea leaves in the bags won’t make the tea bitter if kept cold. Cover your tea-water container and place it in the refrigerator overnight, where the tea will infuse slowly. The next day, remove the tea bags from the container and enjoy your tea, served over ice! I like to use this technique to make tea in my water bottle: just put one or two teabags in there, fill with fresh water, put on the lid, and go!

To use the sun tea method, prepare a clear glass or plastic container with a cover – a large, clean canning jar is perfect – and add drinking water and tea bags. Instead of the refrigerator, cover your container and set it in the sun for at least 4 hours. Make sure the container is in the sun the whole time, so that the gentle heat can infuse the tea. When the tea is as strong as you like (taste it after 3 to 4 hours), remove the tea leaves, chill and serve as above. Since it's looking like Memorial Day Weekend is going to be really warm, make sure to bring plenty of iced tea to your barbecues, parades, or living history reenactments, and stay hydrated!

For more info:
How to make sun tea
How to make iced tea

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Now stir the fire, and close the shutters fast,
Let fall the curtains, wheel the sofa round,
And, while the bubbling and loud-hissing urn
Throws up a steamy column, and the cups
That cheer but not inebriate, wait on each,
So let us welcome peaceful evening in.
-- William Cowper (1731-1800)
"The Winter Evening" (Book Four), _The Task_ (1784)