Does anything taste more like spring than iced tea? Its the perfect beverage for picnics, pairs well with fried chicken and anyone can make it with varying degrees of success.
For a beverage that seems simple, iced tea can go wrong in several ways; it can be as flavorless as water, grainy with too much sugar or astringent from steeping for too long.
Thats why Kristy Jennings, owner of t, an urban teahouse, 7518 N. May Ave., agreed to step in and teach everyone the simple steps to a top-notch iced tea.
STEP 1: Use good teaIf you start with low-quality ingredients, youre going to end up with a low-quality product, she said. Thats why the very most important part of great iced tea is using great tea.
That means putting away the tea bags and using loose-leaf tea, Jennings said, since bagged tea is filled with pulverized tea dust.
Different tastes call for a variety of teas, but Jennings chose black currant tea, which includes dried black currants and whole leaf black tea from India.
STEP 2: Filtered waterThe ingredient list in iced tea is pretty short, so its no surprise that the right water also plays a big part. Jennings said filtering water removed impurities and minerals that can give the tea off flavors. Bottled water isnt necessary home filtration systems do a good job of getting the water ready to boil.
STEP 3: The right ratioWe taste cold teas in less detail than hot, so iced tea requires more loose-leaf tea to make an impact.
Each variety has its own ratio of tea to water, but a good rule of thumb is that iced tea uses one and a half times as much tea as hot, she said. A good seller will give you precise brewing instructions for each kind of tea.
STEP 4: Heat things upThe ratio isnt the only measurement that matters. To get the best flavor out of tea, the water must be the right temperature for extraction. Too hot and the tea leaves are scalded. Too cold and it wont pull out enough flavor.
Most tea sellers will give you instructions on water temperature, but most black teas require 212-degree water for the best taste.
Be sure to start the timer right when you pour in the water, Jennings said. Tea that steeps for too long will get so astringent that no amount of sugar can fix it. That bitter flavor comes from an overabundance of catechins a natural antioxidant found in tea.
STEP 4.5: SweetenersThis one is optional. Some sweeteners including honey, agave syrup or stevia need to be melted, which can be done with some of the hot tea water. Once its liquefied, it can be added to the final brewed product.
To use sugar, Jennings recommends making simple syrup, stirring sugar into hot water until dissolved and then cooling off the mixture. It can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two months and can be added to iced tea after its already cold without any graininess.
STEP 5: Cool it (twice)For a great taste and presentation, she ices her tea twice in quick succession. First, she adds it to a martini shaker filled with ice and swishes it back and forth briefly to bring down the temperature.
Hold that ice back it doesnt go into the final product, she said.
Once the temperature is lowered, she pours it over whole ice in the glass, which doesnt melt as quickly.
If you have more time, let the tea cool naturally before putting it in the refrigerator, which will eliminate the need for more ice just make sure it doesnt go into the fridge hot, lest it become a breeding ground for bacteria, Jennings said.
Print headline: td off, Chill out this spring with these stress-free tips for making perfect iced tea.