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Iced tea for a crowd

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Customer Question: I drink at least a half gallon of tea a day and I almost always have cold iced tea. What is the best method for making large amounts of tea to be used for later? My method thus far has to been to boil water in a pot and put the tea in for the recommended time for the tea being used and then store it in the fridge. I also use only reverse osmosis water for the tea.

– Elizabeth from Fulton, MO

This is a good question and one that a lot of people ask about. The traditional way of brewing iced tea is to make tea like you normally would, then cool it by either adding ice or putting it in the refrigerator. This is a great way of making iced tea if you are making a little bit at a time, but when you start to make huge quantities, cleanup can be a bit of a chore. Luckily there is another way of making iced tea and it is so easy that it takes almost no time with very little clean up.

Refrigerator iced tea is great for mass brewing

Refrigerator iced tea is 100% scalable, meaning that it is just as easy to make ten gallons as it is to make one cup. All you need to do is add the proper amount of tea to a T-Sac, put it in a pitcher filled with water and leave it overnight. By the time you wake up in the morning you will have some tasty iced tea waiting for you.

I like to do a few pitchers at a time

When I make refrigerator iced tea, I’ll take 3 or 4 of my “iced tea pitchers” and brew them all at once. I find using a bunch of smaller pitchers is better than one giant pot because it is easier to store and I can make multiple kinds of iced tea at once. I’ll usually make a regular black tea, a green tea and a flavored tea (my favorites being Coconut Pouchong and Earl Grey).

Iced Tea will stay fresh up to 3 days

After 3 days the tea will start to turn a bit bitter, so be sure to drink it before then. So, if you are making a bunch of different pitchers, be sure that you are going to drink all of it! But, if you are like Elizabeth and drink a half-gallon a day it shouldn’t be a problem.

Just don’t use certain types of tea when doing this

Refrigerator iced tea is perfect for Ceylon Black Teas and anything with the word “breakfast” in it. It is also great for flavored teas. However, I do not recommend using this method for teas that have more subtle notes in them, such as Keemun, Darjeeling or Dragon Well. With this method, you will lose some of the subtleties of the tea due to the cold temperature of the water. But for the teas mentioned above it is a great way to make iced tea with very little effort.

A step-by-step guide on how to make refrigerator iced tea

Here is a link to an article that gives you step-by-step instruction for making refrigerator iced tea. And, if you are like Elizabeth, this method will save you time and effort all while giving you a delicious glass of iced tea every day! http://www.goldenmoontea.com/library/how-to-make-iced-tea-while-you-sleep/

photo: www.flickr.com/photos/wefi_official/9240940671

1 Response

Laura Fernsler

May 29, 2017

I wanted to add that what you don’t get when making cold brew refrigerator iced tea is the acidic overtones or bitterness that causes some to mistakenly think the tea is not as strong. Besides making a smoother iced tea, cold brewing reduces the caffeine that transfers from the tea leaves to the tea water.

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Whether you like it sweetened or strong, it’s hard to deny the allure of a perfectly-chilled glass of iced tea. Bottled teas are often filled with preservatives and artificial flavorings—not to mention, can be costly. Master the art of DIY iced tea, and sip happy all summer long. Here are the most common mistakes people make when brewing iced tea at home; avoid them, and you’ll be halfway to a tea-riffic beverage (sorry).

1. Know Your Tea-Type

There are a few ways to make iced tea. First, you can brew hot tea per normal and chill it in the refrigerator, or just cool it fast by pouring it into a glass over ice. You could also make sun tea by adding tea bags or looseleaf tea to water in a glass jar, and setting it outside on a hot day; the heat of the sun will slowly brew the tea. Once it has steeped to your liking, remove the bags or strain out the tea. Finally, you could go for the cold-brew method: let it steep slowly in the fridge overnight.

2. Just Say No to Weak Tea

No matter the method you choose, be bold and don’t stand for weak tea. This is especially important if you’re going to chill it over ice—the cubes will dilute the tea. Plan ahead and compensate by making it stronger than you would otherwise.

Spiced and Spiked Hibiscus Tea is great with or without the bourbon. Photo: Peden + Munk

3. When Brewing Hot, Mind the Rules

Yes, the temperature of your water matters. Delicate white teas require less heat than robust black teas—just because you’re going to drink it chilled doesn’t mean you can fudge the numbers. Check out this guide for the proper temperatures and time required for each type of tea.

4. Brew the Rainbow

And speaking of different types of tea: Black might be the classic choice for iced tea, but they’re all excellent iced. Green tea on ice is one of the best summer refreshers we know (it’s also great with ice cream; just saying), and a floral, fruity tisane is a nice choice for those sensitive to caffeine.

5. Don’t Use the Wrong Sweetener

Sweetening hot tea with granulated sugar is classic (one lump or two?), but if you’re sweetening your iced tea after it’s chilled, you’ll need to choose a different sweetener. Granulated sugar doesn’t dissolve immediately or completely in cold liquid, so either choose a liquid sweetener, like maple syrup or agave, or turn your sugar into simple syrup. To whip up a simple syrup, just heat equal parts sugar and water in a sauce pot, stir to help it dissolve as you bring to a boil, then let cool. It really is, um, simple. The liquid sugar will combine nicely with your tea—or any other cold beverage that happens to need sweetening. No stove access? No problem. We’ve even got a recipe for no-cook simple syrup.

Thai-Style Iced Tea is extra sweet, thanks to condensed milk. Photo: Michael Depasquale

6. Skip the Fake Flavors

Who needs artificial flavorings when you’ve got fresh ginger, mint leaves, vanilla beans, fruit, and more? To sweeten and flavor your iced tea, add the aromatics to the simple syrup before cooking it. (For example, toss a split vanilla bean pod, chopped ginger root, or fresh mint) right into the sugar-water mixture. Let it steep as the syrup cools, then strain it out before adding to your tea. Au naturale, baby. Of course, if you want to go Thai-style, you can always add sweetened condensed milk to your tea. It gives the brew a creamy, rich texture while also adding sweetness.

Refreshed? Now check out these ways to cook with tea, from cookies to stir-fries.

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