Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Apparently, the writing bug has bitten and my fresh brewed iced tea

Iced Tea conjures different visions not only in the States, but around the world. No, not the rapper, he's cool and all....

 (get it...cool...ice Tea/T...yeah?  *crickets*   sigh, my hubby is the one full of puny goodness; me, not so much)

I'm sure most countries who have been touched historically by the English Empire or further in history with the various Asian empires, have tea as part of their cultural heritage; the variants abound. Whether it is methods, breeds of tea or even if the tea leaf is even utilized, the same occurs in the States.  Throw in the question of temperature served, hot or cold, the possibilities are endless.  Southern Sweet Tea has become a very popular drink as of late, my personal preferences move toward my drink of choice not rotting out my teeth at the first sip, but that's me.  I also don't drink soda, so that should tell ya, yes I am that kind of person. I do however drink iced tea, and a whole lot of it. No kidding, a lot! Anywhere from a gallon to two a day and have been for a very long time.  My dad would get so upset with us (specifically me) for drinking all of "his" ice tea. At the time, I would scoff at it being "his," but now I get it...I rarely share "my" tea!

As a result, I am wickedly picky about my tea, ok... yes.... I know, its more like anal retentive. It can't be too sugary or not sugary enough and it MUST be brewed on the stove. There is a method of sun brewing tea, especially here in Arizona, otherwise known as Arizona Tea (not to be confused with the bottled tea company).  A couple of tea bags, usually a black/orange pekoe, a gallon size bottle/jug with a lid, fill the bottle with water, put in the tea bags in the water, seal the bottle with the lid and set out side in the sun for a few hours.  For some, this is the best kind of tea, personally I think it tastes sour and no amount of sugar or ice can mask it.   If we go out to eat or stopping by a fast food place for a drink, I normally order the tea, shocking, I know. This is where my home version differs from restaurant. I never order the sweetened tea, because its usually way to sweet and even then I rarely add sugar to it and no lemon!  Usually after the first sip I can tell if the tea has been sitting around for a while, if its actually fresh brewed or from concentrate, or if its been a while since the restaurant has cleaned the container.  Thankfully the popularity of iced tea has grown over the years in the southwest and its pretty rare that I get a bad glass of tea.

If my "picky-ness" over tea hasn't convinced you I love iced tea, maybe this will: one of my most treasured childhood taste memories and one I can relive almost everyday during the hot Arizona summer months is the taste of still warm sweetened tea mixing with the melting ice after a long day at the public pool. It is the most wonderful taste sensation and would immediately calm my tummy down from all of the inadvertent swallowing of chlorinated water.




Iced Tea

  • 2 family size tea bags or 4 individual tea bags (black/ orange pekoe)
  • water 
  • approx 140 grams of sugar, adjust to your own taste, this is just under a cup of sugar, but a little more than 3/4 cup.  
  • 3 quart sauce pot
  • gallon size pitcher
Fill sauce pot full of water, drop ice tea bags in the water.  If they have the strings, either wrap them around the handle or cut them off. If there is a little metal clip, don't take it off, it won't hurt anything and it may cause the loose tea to come out of the bag.  If you have wrapped the strings around the handle, use caution as the paper might catch on fire from the heat of the stove - yeah I've done that a few hundred times :).  Set the pot of water and tea bags of the stove and turn the heat up to high.  When the tea comes to a boil, turn off the heat and let the tea bags steep in the hot water for about 15 minutes.  While you are waiting for the tea to steep and cool down.  Put the sugar into the pitcher.  I normally use plastic, if you use glass I would wait for the hot tea to cool down a bit more.  After the tea has steeped and cooled some, take the tea bags out of the water - I usually carefully squeeze the tea bags to extract all of the lovely goodness from the bags - either use the tea bags in compost or throw away.  CAREFULLY pour the hot tea into the pitcher and stir to dissolve the sugar. Then fill the pot with cool water and fill the pitcher to make a gallon.  Stir again to distribute the sugar, cover and cool.

This is where I will fill a large cup of ice and pour the warm tea over the ice, listen for the musical crackling and popping of the ice and drink down the magically warm and cold liquid that has not yet completely mixed.  In one sip you have both warm tea and cold melting ice, its so very lovely!!!!

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