I Like Iced Tea But I'm Lazy*: Three Ideas
*Disclaimer: Laziness does not exist. I am using "lazy" in the title of this post as short-hand for any of the following conditions: "busy, exhausted, anxious, mildly averse to the Sisyphean reality that is my kitchen sink, maybe neuroatypical?, exhausted, running after tiny hellions (a.k.a. toddlers), working too many hours, is it weird I'm already looking forward to Halloween?, the lack of AC in a swamp summer climate is grinding my soul to dust, etc., etc."
Do you like iced tea?
Do you have cupboards full of different kind of teas and herbal teas and yet still find yourself buying iced tea at the dépanneur because it's already cold, delicious, and just easier? Oh delicious, delicious watery condensation on shiny aluminium, I love you so.
But! Have no fear, instead of forcing yourself out in this heat to the dép and back, here are three ideas how to make some nummy iced tea at home with what you've got, based on my own tea habits.
Brew Hot, Pour Over Ice
Steep Difficulty Level: Deceptively Simple!
This method is particularly good if you've got a tea you like to brew strong with lots of sugar. Brew a hot cuppa' the way you usually do, but with slightly less water than usual. So if you use one tea bag and a half a spoon of sugar/honey per mug, only add about half the amount of water you usually do. Let steep a bit longer than usual. Make sure the sugar and honey have dissolved completely.
Then pour what you've just made into another (probably a fair bit larger) mug full of icecubes. You may have to add more icecubes after, as the hot water will melt most of them.
Ta-da! Iced tea, without having to wait around.
- Brewing the tea in a glass measuring cup can help with pouring into the ice cube mug after, as pouring from one mug into another is often obnoxious. To gauge how much water fits in your mug, you can fill the mug with tap water and pour it out into the measuring cup to see how much you usually need.
- This method works really well with tea lattes: add a bit of cold milk (whatever kind you like) to the hot tea, let steep a lil' while, and then pour over ice. This is how I make matcha lattes when I'm particularly tired.
- Black teas and black tea blends work really, really well with this method.
- For herbal teas: a friend once mentioned that sometimes you need more sweetener (honey or sugar) than expected to flesh out the character of a herbal tea or flower away from "generic leaf taste." Honey also has a stronger flavour of its own compared to sugars; if you're averse to the overly sweet, testing smaller amounts of sugar and increasing as needed may be preferable to honey in brews destined to be poured over ice.
Brewing Directly On Ice
Steep Difficulty Level: Requires Slightly More Preparation But Not Really
This is a technique I learned from Cha Do Raku's Chiho-san, whose tea workshops I highly, highly recommend.
It's as simple as it sounds. Fill a teapot with a normal (or even slightly generous) amount of tea, and then cover it all with as many ice cubes as you can. For the first steep, you can add a little bit of cold water and let sit for a minute or five, and then drink. The icecubes will keep melting and you'll have more cold tea as they melt (you can also encourage further melting by adding tiny amounts of cold water). If it's as hot where you are as where I am, and depending on the size of your teapot, the ice cubes will melt faster than you'd think!
- Keep the glass and teapot next to you on a small tray so that you can periodically serve yourself from the teapot. If you're anything like me, you'll forget the ice cube-filled teapot exists the moment it's out of your line of sight.
- This method works best with small (80mL) to medium teapots (~250mL). In larger teapots the ice and proportions will be harder to control, the ice will take forever to melt, and the taste honestly won't be satisfying.
- This method works particularly well with Japanese green teas: sencha, kukicha, bancha, gyokuro, and even several Japanese black teas lend themselves to being delicious brewed this way. I've also had very good outcomes with less-oxidised oolongs as well.
- Cold brews of green tea do not require added sugar, as green teas will be naturally sweet brewed cold.
- I recommend pouring into a clear or light-coloured glass so that you can make sure the tea actually steeped — if you pour out what looks like clear water, the tea needs to steep on the ice longer. For example, I have a gyokuro that when prepared hot honestly rarely takes more than 45 seconds to be ready, but when I make it on icecubes, I will often let it steep for 8-10 minutes! But it's so delicious cold!
- Most herbal teas, with a few exceptions, do not brew on ice well in such a short timeframe. I do not recommend.
Stick It In The Fridge Overnight
Steep Difficulty Level: A Bit More Planning Ahead Required
I like using mason jars for this technique. I'll usually take a big mason jar of tea, with all the sugar it needs, and either brew it perfectly or let it get slightly oversteeped. I'll then close the mason jar, let it cool on the counter** until I can easily hold the jar without my hand getting hot, and then stick it in the fridge overnight.
**Warning: a hot jar in the fridge will mess with your fridge's inner temperature and the thermal shock will cause the glass of the jar to crack.**
- If you know that you've got a heatwave coming the next day, having a jar or two of cold iced tea in the fridge is an amazing treat. Herbal tea or caffeine-free tea in particular can be rather helpful for staying properly hydrated.
- Many of the tips and tricks regarding sweetness and taste in "Brew Hot, Pour Over Ice" apply here.
- If brewing in a big teapot first to then pour into a mason jar, this isn't a concern, but if you're brewing directly in the mason jar with a strainer or tea sachet(s), you'll likely take the tea strainer/sachet(s) out before sticking the mason jar in the fridge. However, if you like very strong tea, you can also experiment with leaving the strainer/sachet(s) in overnight.
- If steeping a black tea, you can add a slice of lemon (or even other citrus like orange) or two to the mason jar overnight.
- If the next day, you end up with a tea that's too sweet/strong, you can always pour on icecubes and the melting icecubes will help dilute the strength of it.
- Do not keep a mason jar of tea in the fridge longer than a day.
All right, that's a wrap. Stay hydrated, lovelies!
(And if you make some ice tea, send me a picture over on the birdsite or the 'gram!)
PS: Last summer, I shared some of my favourite iced tea concoctions, see them here!
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