By John Rice, General Manager
I'm always surprised that people who insist on the high quality of loose leaf tea when they intend to drink it hot, assume they have to use bagged tea when they will be drinking it iced. The fact is, using loose leaf tea for iced tea is incredibly simple and fast, and doesn't require much equipment that most kitchens don't already have. A larger infuser, like a 6 cup tea ball or Chelsea reusable cloth tea bag, is probably all you need.
Here is how I make a gallon of the world's best iced tea in ten minutes:
- Fill a large saucepan with about 2 quarts of fresh water and put it on high heat to boil. The exact amount of boiling water isn't critical. I'm a bit of a stickler when it comes to consistency, so I always weigh the tea I use, since it is the only truly accurate way to get the same amount every time. With unflavored or lightly flavored teas, I measure out .70 oz (20 grams) of tea (about 4 tablespoons). With flavored teas that have chunks of anything other than tea (fruit rinds, spices, etc.) I usually use 1 oz (28 grams, or about 5 tablespoons). You may want to adjust to your own tastes. Put your tea in the infuser. In many cases, one 6 cup tea ball should be big enough, but if it seems a bit tight, which it will be with certain teas, split the tea between two of them. Better yet, use a Chelsea reusable cloth tea bag.
- Once the water is boiling, take it off the heat, put the infuser in the water and start your timer. Pull the infuser through the water periodically, to make sure it is getting good exposure to the water. When the time is up, take the infuser out of the water. If you want to add sugar, do it now and stir completely.
- Finally, I pour the hot tea into a gallon pitcher which is about half full of ice. For the clearest tea possible, I set a large colander across the top of the pitcher, put a sheet of sack cloth in the colander and pour the tea through it. Fill the pitcher the rest of the way with tap water and you're good to go. Rinse out your infuser, colander and sack cloth and let them dry for the next time.
I recommend trying any tea you enjoy hot. Impress your friends with a delicious tumbler of your favorite loose leaf tea. You will be surprised how good iced tea can be. Take it easy on the sugar at first. High quality tea deserves to have its flavor come through.
A couple suggestions. It is best if the saucepan is NOT non-stick. That way you can quickly scrub out any residue left by the tea. Also, an electric kettle makes the whole process even faster, since they boil water in significantly less time than the stove top. Any avid tea drinker should have one anyway and they are easy to find at most department stores such as Target. I still use the saucepan to brew the tea, and preheat it a bit while the water is boiling, but I put the infuser in the saucepan and pour the boiling water over it as it sits in the saucepan.
Got a favorite iced tea method of your own? Please share!