With summertime around the corner, ice tea will become a popular beverage for many people. All year around it is loved and enjoyed by many people in the US, although I have my reservation about the benefit of the run of the mill ice tea you get served in a normal restaurant. I have seen some positive exception about good quality ice tea and the trend is fortunately growing.
What is wrong with this ice tea? Sugar. Many regular diners in the US serve regular black tea (some are based on tea bags brewed quick and on the fly) and then add lots of sugar. So a non-calorie drink is now becoming a soda like calorie bomb filled with the white stuff.
But there is hope. You don’t have to desert to unsweetened ice tea (which is still the same cheap black tea bag infusion), but can have a zero-calorie sweet beverage which tastes fresh and healthy. How?
The secret is to use high quality loose leaf tea which comes with natural sweetness and does not add any calories to the drink. Try a popular Oolong tea called ‘Oriental Beauty’ (more specifically Dongfang Meiren or Baihao) and you will get a wonderful fresh tea.
There are different avenues of making ice tea:
My favorite method as it brings out the essence of ice tea, however you should be patient as this brewing takes some time. It is a good candidate for overnight brewing with a fresh ice tea in the morning. Simply add tea to a glass container and put in the fridge and you should have a good mellow fresh tea in the morning. You will need to experiment a bit around, some teas take longer and some shorter to brew, but 4-6 hours should do the trick. I like the glass container as you can see the progress in the brewing process better based on the color of the tea. Try a couple batches and taste until you find the right fit for you. Cold brew takes out the edges in tea which you would get when hot brewing the tea.
Hot brew and cool down
Another method would be to brew the tea normal with hot water and then cool it down. Most interesting is the ‘glacier’ method by taking a
cup of ice cubes and pouring the hot tea over it. In terms of convenience and speed this is the best method and with a high quality loose leaf tea you get a fresh and vibrant ice tea. Make sure you use high quality water to brew the tea but also the ice cubes as they otherwise might influence the quality of the overall tea.
You can also let the tea stand after you brewed and add ice cubes later, that is up to you. It depends how much time you have.
Many retail and online companies are selling high quality loose leaf tea made for ice teas. These are special blends which will come with flowers or fruits and make for a perfect ice tea for your next party. Try them and you will not be disappointed. If you live in Europe, Mariage Freres has amazing Ice teas, if you are fortunate to live in Asia – TWG has a whole range of ice tea blends perfect for the summer. You can also try to make your own composition: try loose leaf green tea and add some fruit and herbs to make a taste that fits perfect for you. In summer time lemons and oranges are perfect to add to tea.
I hope these tips inspire you to try high quality loose leaf tea, even from the supermarket and try to make your own ice tea. Your taste buds and your guests will thank you.
Please feel free to reach out to me in case you have any questions.