Saturday, September 23, 2006
This is a minor thing really, but it's improved my quality of life, so I hope you'll forgive my blogging about it. For those of you not from the U.S., iced tea may not be a big issue for you, but if you're from the States -- especially the Southeast States -- it truly is. (My mother is from Tennessee, so I consider myself half Southern.)
I do love me some iced tea, but until the last two months I hadn't made any in quite some time simply because I didn't have the appropriate vessel to make it in. To start with, I will not drink instant tea. I consider it evil and no true beverage at all. You can brew iced tea by making it double strength (twice the normal number of teabags) and then pouring it hot over ice, but I've never really liked to do that. I just feel like it shocks the tea, though I have no rational reason for feeling this way: I think tea is a somewhat fragile beverage and should not be jerked around in that fashion. I prefer to brew my tea in the sun (a.k.a. "sun tea"). It's simpler, for one thing, and does not heat up the kitchen. I also think it gives better-tasting iced tea.
All you do is measure out the water, place it in a glass bottle or jar, add the appropriate number of teabags and leave it in the sun for several hours. You can leave it all day if you want, it doesn't seem to matter (I have heard you can also leave the teabags in water overnight for "moon tea," but I have never tried this). Then strain the teabags out and put the tea in the fridge to cool down. It stays good for several days. I don't sweeten my iced tea, and lately I've even stopped putting lemon in it - if you take care with brewing the tea it tastes good enough that you don't have to. It cools you down like nothing else.
A few months ago I finally found a glass jar the right size for brewing tea; these days, with so many commercial foods packed in plastic jars, this is harder than it sounds. It's a 1 1/2 quart size dill pickle jar. (My first few batches of tea tasted faintly of dill; this may sound offputting, but it was actually pretty good.) On the occasions that I had my act together I would put the teabags (3) in the jar in the morning, fill it up with water, and park it on the patio in my backyard where I knew it would get the full effect of the sun in the afternoon. When I arrived home, voila - iced tea, already made.
The season is getting late for it, but if you have the right-sized glass jar sitting around the house I would encourage you to dust it off and give sun tea a try if you haven't recently. You'll enjoy it.