Thursday, September 14, 2006

Perfect Iced Tea

Today I'm going to reveal the secret family recipe for making perfect iced tea. I figure it's just not fair to keep it a secret any longer.

Ingredients:

  • 1 water-boiling kettle, 1.5-2 quarts, needs to have a whistle
  • 1 steeping kettle, also 1.5-2 quarts, should have a hook on the lid
  • 1 gallon jug or pitcher
  • 1 long-handled wooden spoon, NEVER used for anything else
  • 1 tea strainer. A tea strainer has a very fine mesh, to trap tiny tea leaf particles. Note that a coffee filter will not work, as tea is partly a suspension, and the extremely small particles must NOT be filtered out. Try it, and you'll see the coffee filter clogs right up.
  • 1 cup sugar or 1.9 tbsp liquid saccharin sweetener
  • 6 regular tea bags, or 2 jumbos, or a tea ball filled with black tea

Fill up the boiling kettle, and boil. Drop the tea bags, or tea ball into the steeping kettle, and pour the boiling water in. Cover. Wait until it reaches room temperature, at least 3 hours, preferably no more than 10. More than 24 hours is right out.

Put the gallon jug or pitcher in the sink. Pour the brewed tea into the gallon jug/pitcher. Add the sugar or the saccharin. Not both, for God's sake! Stir with long-handled wooden spoon. Fill the pitcher with water, and stir some more. Pour at least one glass over ice. Place the rest in the refrigerator. The peak flavor is reached after 24 hours in the refrigerator. If made with sugar, it will last 3-4 days before it starts getting a little funky. With saccharin, it'll go a week or more.

If it gets too old, you'll see some weird stuff form and settle out. That would be a good time to dump and start over. But generally, it won't last that long.

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