Already by the 19th century iced tea recipes began to appear in cookbooks. But iced tea really took off in popularity when the tea merchant Richard Blechynden, unable to sell tea during a heat wave at the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis, decided to serve his tea over ice. It was a hit with visitors, and summer’s haven’t been the same since.
Today, iced tea is the most popular tea in America. Forget about instant iced tea from a jar; it’s too sweet and lacks real tea flavor. Great iced tea can be made with any black tea as well as flavored teas, such as Peach Black Tea, Lemon Green Tea, or even Oolong or Japanese Sencha. If you like it sweet, try using superfine baking or bartender’s sugar (you can also make your own in a food processor). You can also mix up a sugar syrup on the stove with a 1:1 ration of sugar to water, simmer for a few minutes, cool, and keep in the fridge for up to two weeks. If you allow tea to cool down naturally before refrigerating, it won’t cloud or “cream down.”
In this method, just double the amount of dry tea leaf (2 heaping tsp or 2 tea bags per cup), place in any clean jug and add the proper amount of cold water. Let the infusion stand in the refrigerator overnight or for at least six hours. Strain the tea into a second jug or container. Add sugar or lemon to taste. This is similar to sun tea, which also works fine, but some experts fear bacterial growth may occur in sun tea. I doubt it, but you be the judge.
Method 1: Use half the hot water you would ordinarily use for hot tea (1 tsp per 6 oz cup), infuse for 3-5 minutes, and pour over a full 12 oz glass of ice. The rapid cooling gives you a crystal clear tea.
Method 2: Some recipes call for doubling the tea leaf amount, steeping for 3-5 minutes, and then pouring into a container with the equal amount of cold water. This dilutes the strong tea and chills it quickly.
Fruit Juice Iced Tea Strong tea concentrates are especially great when mixed in a 1:1 ratio with lemonade or other fruit juices. Just be sure the juice doesn’t overpower the tea flavor. If you shake this mix with some sugar in a cocktail shaker or in a blender, the aerated drink is wonderfully fresh and light tasting.
Recommended Iced Tea Blend: Tropical Black Tea (passionfruit, mango, peaches and black tea)