Iced Tea is all the rage right now. Cool, crisp and delicious. Now Iced Tea can mean something different to you as it does to me, there are countless interpretations of it. Sweet Tea, Sun Tea, Bottled Tea, "Real" Tea. It doesn't really matter how you spin it, all are great to have next to you on a gorgeous summer afternoon.
Ice Tea has a unique definition in all parts of the world. Here in Canada if you ask for Ice Tea at a restaurant, odds are you'll get a dark brown fountain drink that has more sugar and artificial flavors in it than actual tea. If you ask for it in Belgium you'll get a refreshing carbonated beverage. In some southern states in the U.S. , you'll get heavily sweetened black tea mixed with added flavoring like mint and lemon.
However in specialty tea stores Iced Tea can usually mean loose leaf tea, over ice. In stores like Teavana and David's Tea you pick a flavor of tea leaves off the shelf, pick a sweetening ingredient and in a few minutes you'll have a nice refreshing cup of natural Iced Tea. When you do it this way, steeping instructions are slightly different to that of hot tea. Quantity of leaves and steeping time is doubled, sweetening is also heavily recommended due to the bitter aftertaste that might occur.
In other tea stores however, this procedure might not be offered. At a store I went to recently I naively asked for a certain tea off the wall iced and the employee simply told me that is not possible. If I wanted Iced Tea I must choose from their pre-steeped selections. After explaining it to me further she told me that the store picks five popular teas and steeps them at low temperatures in pitchers overnight. This way there is no risk of the leaves burning, which causes the slight bitter taste in the previous method. This particular Ice Tea production is commonly known as Refrigerator Tea or Sun Tea, and can be practiced simply enough at home by either steeping in hot water in the fridge, or cold water in the sun.
Homemade Iced Tea is easy to make and equally delicious using any method or recipe. Search online for different ways to experiment. Add carbonated water, add lemonade, add milk! Create the perfect cup of tea specifically for you. I love steeping a floral green tea, adding vanilla agave syrup and pouring it over a tall glass of ice, shaken not stirred! Quick and yummy.
But if you can't be bothered to make your own, there are also great manufactures that sell commercialized Iced Tea in all types of fun flavors. Common brands like Lipton, Nestle, Snapple, AriZona, and Tazo. And when you get a chance, try a bottle of Iced Green Tea, it's better for you than original but tastes just as great!
Whether it's homemade, canned, steeped or mixed, Ice Tea in all forms is the perfect Summer drink. If you have any special recipes for a great cup of Iced Tea, feel free to let me know in the comments. Enjoy!