We may be well past summer, but in a warm and humid (for the most part) country like India, there’s rarely a bad time for a tall, cold glass of iced tea. While premixed iced tea is readily available in cafés and supermarkets, it’s usually too sweet and syrupy. But it’s easy enough to make iced tea at home, so why not give it a try?
Many iced tea recipes suggest that you brew the tea in hot water and then add ice cubes and cold water, followed by refrigeration. While this is a convenient way of making iced tea, hot-brewed tea can taste slightly astringent or even bitter when iced. That’s why most iced teas are copiously sweetened to mask the bitterness. Astringent tannins naturally present in tea add balance and structure to hot tea but they can dry out your tongue when used as iced tea. Hot-brewed tea can also come off as ‘over-extracted’ when iced or cooled, and in some varieties of tea can even end up tasting like mulch. This is particularly true with green teas.
So what makes the perfect iced tea? The answer lies in cold-brewing the tea. Cold brew is essentially steeping the tea leaves or teabags in cold water for a period of time. The cold water extracts the tea flavours but not much of the tannins giving you a smoother, less astringent brew. You will need 1 to 2 teaspoons of tea leaves (or 1 teabag) per cup of water or 4-5 teaspoons (or 3-4 teabags) per litre of water. Steep the tea leaves or bags in water and let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour. Then refrigerate for a couple of hours or leave it overnight. Strain and add sugar or syrup or honey to taste (optional, of course), add a few ice cubes if you like, and enjoy your perfectly brewed glass of iced tea.
Steep it well
You can steep tea for as little as two hours to as long as overnight or even up to 12 hours depending upon how strong you like it. Steeping time will vary depending upon the type of tea used, e.g. black tea will steep faster while rolled oolong leaves may take longer. Experiment with a variety of teas and for different steeping times to find your sweet spot. And remember, don’t throw away the leaves once you’re done steeping. You can re-steep the leaves for a second and even a third time. However, you may need to steep for a longer period of time when you do this.
Technically, you can use any type of tea to make your iced tea. However, the high tannin content in black tea can make even cold-brewed tea a bit astringent and the cold water can downplay its golden fruitiness. Instead, try TheHillcart Tales’ Berries Burst, a green tea with fruity notes of luscious blueberries reminiscent of summer. Or kick it up a notch by using The Hillcart Tales’ range of flavoured tisanes. The citrus notes of Blood Orange and Strawberry Lime lend themselves especially well for iced tea. The dessert variants like Apple Strudel, Lemon Cake, and Tiramisu Delight give a decadent twist to iced tea making it a rather special treat. All the tisanes are caffeine-free, so you enjoy several cups of iced tea through the day.