Monday, March 13, 2006

Going Back to Iced Tea

OK, Iced Tea, part deux.

My wife, Jen, knows how much I love iced tea. She even bought me a book about it. (Yes, someone out there is crazy enough to write a book just about iced tea!).

Fred Thompson's book Iced Tea is a nice little compilation of ideas and anecdotes about iced tea and contains 50 recipes for all sorts of iced tea ranging from the simple sun tea to variations on the alcoholic variants such Long Island iced tea (which, by the way, contains NO tea at all!).

Thompson gives us six rules for making good icea tea:

1. Start with enough tea bags. Thompson claims using manufacturer's instuctions leads to wimpy iced tea!

2. To strengthen your tea, add more teabags. DON'T just steep your teabags for a longer period of time as this just brings out the bitter flavor of the tannins in the tea.

3. Don't skimp on the sugar. While Thompson scoffs at de-emphasizing sweetness, he DOES say good things about my favorite sweetener, Splenda.

4. Let your tea cool before refrigerating it. Putting hot tea in your fridge will make it cloudy.

5. Keep your iced tea fresh. 'Nuff said.

6. Never use anything but freshly squeezed lemon juice.

Here is the recipe for a basic variant of iced tea that was said to have originated in the American South:

Southern-Style Iced Tea

6 regular-sized tea bags
1/8th teaspoon baking soda
2 cups boiling water
6 cups cold water
Sugar or other sweeteners to taste

1. Place the teabags and the baking soda (it softens the tannins and helps remove any bitterness) into a container and pour the boiling water onto them. Cover and let steep for 15 minutes.

2. Remove the teabags (but don't squeeze them as this will release the bitter tannins we've been talking about).

3. Pour the mixture into a pitcher and combine with the cold water and sweeten (If you want to add lemons or whatever, this would be the time to put it in).

4. Let cool, chill, then serve over ice!

If you're interested in other recipes, let me know.