Sunday, June 6, 2010
The Iced Tea Experiment
Posted by Victoria at 3:34 PM
Even though Tea Week is over, and there is over a month until the deadline for the amazing Tea Week Contest, I have make an important discovery that I must share with my iced tea-loving readers. I have conducted an experiment to see what, to me, is the best way to brew iced tea. There are lots of methods, many of which I've researched online (including steeping in the refrigerator, in the sun, etc), but I tried out a couple to compare side by side which way works better.
I usually will brew tea exactly as I would for hot tea, and then let it cool and refrigerate it. I have read many instructions advising people to brew the tea twice as strong (use twice as much tea leaves as you would for the same amount of water) and then pour it in a pitcher with an equal amount of ice. This will cool the tea immediately and dilute it to achieve the same volume of iced tea. So which method is better? The method that takes longer to cool, or the one that is faster? Honestly, just as expected, the LESS fast method yielded far superior results.
I honestly didn't think it would make much of a difference, but it sure did! The pitcher of iced tea that was made the tradition way of brewing tea and then allowing it to cool on its own was crystal clear, lighter in color, and had a very light and flavorful liquor (this is pictured on the left in the photos). The pitcher made by steeping it with twice as much tea and then diluting with ice (the method I've read just about everywhere) resulted in a cloudy, darker, and extremely bitter iced tea (this is pictured on the right in the photos). I have read that some teas will become cloudy when iced, but I used the exact same tea leaves to prepare the iced teas, so that is not a variable to consider. I ended up adding quite a bit of sugar to the second batch and it tastes okay now, but was completely undrinkable without added sweetness, while the first batch is fine with or without sweetness and is more aesthetically pleasing.
Just a little iced tea making tip from me to you, since I know in these summer months it is almost essential to have some iced cold refreshing drinks at the ready. Cheers!