Hot, humid weather and iced tea go hand-in-hand in the South where I grew up. No matter what the occasion, glass after glass of sweet tea was the signature drink of my childhood for everyone — from the kids on up to grandparents. So much so that whenever we have family visiting from North Carolina, one of the first things I do is make a pitcher of tea to serve on ice. I’m partial to mellow Oolong or green tea, especially roasted varieties which make a wonderfully refreshing drink without any added sweetness needed. Black tea with plenty of sugar is traditional.
Iced Tea (for 6)
Use 5 teaspoons of loose tea or 4 – 6 teabags of any type of tea. (I used loose Oolong tea)
Pour about 6 cups hot water over tea, give or take.
Let it steep for about 4 to 5 minutes.
Set strainer over pitcher and strain.
Let cool, then refrigerate until serving over plenty of ice.
If you want to make sweet tea, stir sugar into the hot water first to dissolve, then pour over tea.
Growing up, it wasn’t unusual to see a big jar of Sun Tea brewing for the day’s consumption. I was shocked to find people are now being warned against using solar power to brew tea because of possible bacteria lurking in the tea. Even the CDC is in on this hogwash. I say, yeah maybe, but many people have been making sun tea for years with no ill effects. If you’re concerned about it, you can steep the tea without the sun, even in the fridge — just give it more time.
To make Sun Tea just follow the proportions in the iced tea recipe above but instead of using hot water, use cold. Put loose tea or tea bags in a jar with cold water, cover and place in a nice sunny spot for 3 to 5 hours. Strain the tea out and serve over ice.
I made it through college fueled on iced coffee, the perfect blend of caffeine and ice. Back in the old days, when I ordered iced coffee, I’d get a blank stare then a mug of hot coffee and a big cup of ice. In other words, it wasn’t on the menu. I’m sure now that Starbucks is on every corner, even in the South, those days are over.
You can make a coffee concentrate without ever turning the stove on. Using cold water, you end up with coffee with less acidity and caffeine than the hot brewed type and the flavor is still full-bodied and only slightly milder. To serve, just fill a glass with ice, pour in the concentrate to your desired strength. I used 1/2 coffee concentrate and 1/2 cold milk. If you don’t use milk, use cold water to dilute, the melting ice also helps. I like a little demerara sugar to sweeten the deal.
Ingredients: 1 quart cold water/ 1/4 lb. coarse ground coffee
Directions: Pour water into large bowl or pitcher. Add coffee and stir to saturate. Leave for 12 hours or overnight. Using coffee filter or cheesecloth, strain concentrate into jar. Store in fridge for up to a month.
Proportions and length of cold-brewing time can be fine-tuned to your own taste. If you want to make more concentrate, use a lb of coffee to a gallon water.
Take a jar of concentrate on your next camping trip. It’s much easier than bringing along all the paraphernalia and can be used with hot water too. It’s also excellent used in cooking. This article from the NY Times has some very interesting iced coffee recipes.
In an article in the NY times , Harold McGee goes into great detail about the virtues of cold-brewing tea and coffee. He also included this recipe for Mojito Iced Tea. Peaches are finally in season so I had to give it a try.
Mojito Iced Tea
Ingredients: 5 sprigs fresh mint, lightly crushed/ 1 sliced lime/ 2 T loose-leaf Oolong tea/ 1 sprig fresh lemon balm (optional)/ 1 small peach, sliced, with pit/ sugar to taste
Directions: Place all ingredients in large bowl or pitcher with 4 cups cold water. Let rest at least 4 hours or preferably overnight. Strain into clean pitcher and sweeten with sugar to taste. Pour into ice-fulled glasses and garnish with extra mint and lime slices.
Mojito Iced Tea makes an excellent mocktail. I can almost taste the rum…