Cooking with Alison

How to Make Iced Tea and Delicious Variations

In Drinks, How-To on August 15, 2014 at am

Iced tea has always been one of my favourite drinks, so I’m not sure why it took me so long to start making it from scratch.  I should clarify that the drink, ‘iced tea’, means different things depending on where you go.  In some places, if you order an iced tea, they will bring you a straight up cup of tea that is served chilled with ice.  I learned that the hard way while traveling on a cruise, once.  I was very disappointed.  😉  The iced tea that I’m in love with is sometimes referred to as sweet tea.  Now that I know how easy it is to make iced tea, how much better it tastes when homemade, and how much fun it is to try different flavour variations, I will never buy canned or bottled iced tea again.  In fact, from now on, John and I are going to start serving homemade iced tea instead of soda/pop when we have friends over.  Also, if you’re like me, then you probably have boxes and boxes and boxes of different types of tea at home that you may never get through.  This is a great way to enjoy them while cleaning out your cupboards.

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Sweet Iced Tea Recipe and Variations

makes one pitcher of iced tea, but this recipe can easily be doubled or tripled;  Note that this should be made at least 8 hours in advance for the best results.

1.75 litres (7 cups) of filtered water

6 tea bags  (Notes:  If you are using black tea, I recommend using a combination of English breakfast, orange pekoe, and earl grey for added fragrance and complexity.  To switch things up, try using green tea bags or chai tea bags instead.  You could also use fruit tea bags.  If using fruit tea, you may need to add 1 or 2 more tea bags to achieve the desired flavour.)

Chinese rock sugar syrup or simple syrup to taste  (Note:  Simple syrup made with granulated white sugar works too, but I find that the rock sugar simple syrup lends a smoother, more well rounded, sweetness.  Personally, I like to make the tea flavour the star of this drink, but store bought iced teas all tend to be very sweet, so feel free to add as much sweetness as you’d like.  Start with 1/4 cup of syrup and add more 1 tablespoon at a time.)

4 to 6 thin slices of fresh lemon

Optional flavour variations:  Fruit flavours can be added for delicious and refreshing iced tea variations.  Be sure to consider exotic fruits, too.  You could add fruit juice or pureed fruit or sliced/chopped pieces of fruit (fresh or frozen) to your iced tea.  You might want to try adding fresh herbs, such as mint, basil, arugula, lavender, or lemon grass, etc.  Ginger is a great addition too.  You could add a few slices of fresh ginger when you’re making your simple syrup.  Get creative with your flavour combinations.  You might even want to turn your iced tea into an alcoholic beverage.

Bring the 7 cups of water to a rolling boil in a kettle.  Meanwhile, place a wooden spoon (to help cool down the hot water faster) and the tea bags into a large heat proof pot or bowl or pitcher.  Pour the hot water over the wooden spoon and tea bags and allow the tea to steep for at least five minutes.  Once the tea has reached the desired colour and flavour, remove the tea bags and discard them.  Allow the tea to cool completely.  Once it has, transfer it to a serving pitcher (if it’s not already in a pitcher).  Add the slices of fresh lemon, fruit pieces/puree/juice (if using), and herbs (if using).  Then chill the tea through in the refrigerator.  Once the tea is nice and cold, stir in the simple syrup to taste.  Serve the iced tea in glasses containing ice cubes or a few pieces of frozen fruit.  This tea will keep for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.  Remember to stir the iced tea prior to serving, each time.

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  1. I’ve been drinking iced tea all my life , now, it’s hard since I have to cut back on carbs, but I am experimenting. Over the past couple of years I have been positively swooning over fruited iced teas, and found that a little fruit puree or fruit juice adds so much to it. Also, naturally-flavored fruit herb teas make splendid ice tea. Nice post!

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  4. Wonderful site. Learned alot.
    Are you still blogging?
    Question for you: I use rinsed, drained beansprouts for an egg foo young recipe.
    Can never seem to get them dry enough using colander followed by lots of paper towels Tried to get them dry on baking sheet in oven at low temp but still too wet and they shrank too much.
    Any ideas? Thanks.

    • Hi Lynne, nice to hear from you :). I am definitely still planning on blogging. A bad concussion has made it difficult but I will eventually get some new posts up. For the bean spouts question: the way that works for me is to rinse them ahead of time (a few hours) and drain them in a colander and place that in the refrigerator. If you leave them too long they will brown. I hope that works! Let me know!

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