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Thursday
Apr282011

Good Iced Tea 

Just one single-serving bag of spiced tea gives zippy flavor to a whole pitcher of iced tea. You won't miss the sweetener or sugar. It's much better for your budget and the environment compared to drinking bottled iced tea.

Active time: 2 minutes. Total time: 7 minutes. Makes 3 quarts or 8 servings over ice.

Ingredients

3 family-sized black tea bags, such as Lipton Iced Tea blend
1 individual bag of Celestial Seasonings Mandarin Orange Spice tea
about 13 cups water

Method

  1. Bring about six cups of water to a boil in an electric water boiler or on the stove in a tea kettle or covered pot over high heat.
  2. Pour about a cup of boiling water into your teapot. Let the pot warm up while you get out the tea bags. Spread open the central part of any flow-through tea bags.
  3. Empty the teapot, then put tea bags in the teapot and fill with hot water. Let brew for at least four minutes. Some say that longer brewing extracts bitter flavors, but I often let it brew during a meal.
  4. When tea has brewed long enough, pour a few cups of tap water into your tea pitcher so hot tea doesn't break the pitcher. Pour tea from pot into pitcher, squeezing bags to get out every drop. Top pitcher off with more tap water, then refrigerate for up to 24 hours (see note below). Serve over ice. Compost the tea bags.

Tips and notes

  • How long will refrigerated iced tea keep safely? The Center for Disease Control says just eight hours, but the president of the Tea Association of the USA, Joe Simrany, told me that's an "ultraconservative" guideline intended for food-service use. At home, he recommends using it within 24 hours. Over time, he says, the taste and the health benefits deteriorate. On the Tea Geek site, an "applied environmental micro specialist" says it will keep for 48 hours. Personally, I brew a fresh pitcher about every three days, throwing it out if it looks cloudy.
  • Why not make sun tea? The water may not get hot enough to be safe enough for commercial purposes, according to the Tea Association. Better to just brew it for several hours in the refrigerator. The Tea Geek reports that, despite rumors all over the Internet, Center for Disease Control has not said that sun tea is dangerous . Here's the original CDC memo on iced tea safety.
  • Don't have a teapot? Put tea bags directly into the pot used to boil water.
  • The tea bag wrappers make good scrap paper for notes and grocery lists.

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