Jimbo

image from The Dark Crystal
My eye was recently caught by an aging print ad for the collector’s edition of The Dark Crystal, not so much for the movie, but for the replica notepad that they were offering as an extra. The notepad isn’t a copy of a prop from the film, but a reprinting of Jim Henson’s own notebook from the time of production.

As someone with a morbid interest in the creative processes of others, the tiny picture of the plain yellow legal pad is of the same flavour of teasing-promise-that-could-never-pan-out that scratchy black and white ads for x-ray specs or blurry action sets from Sears’ Christmas Wish Book once held.

How to make proper iced tea

When I was a young boy, I played the silver – erm.

Actually – when I was young we’d make iced tea in large glass jars, left outside for a day to fend against the sun. I remember my juvenile pallette finding the taste delicious if sort of odd, but years of crappy canned Iced Tea had put a fairly thorough wedge between me and the gentleperson’s beverage. Oh, over the years there was the occasional fling, Arizona Iced Tea briefly held my attention, although a few bad run ins with tinny cans, (I should have known to stick to the bottles!), and the affair was over.

Then, without really intending too, I fell in love all over again. On a trip to North Carolina I was suddenly immersed in The Great Brown. I’ve little experience of the American South in general, but I can say that Charlotte seemed to run on iced tea in the way that I might imagine Seattle to run on coffee. Worst of all, the stuff was delicious. After returning home I immediately began experimenting in an attempt to recreate what I’d just witnessed, and so began a long trail of not-quite-rights. I moved from heat brewing, to sun brewing and back again.

Finally, synthesizing two different techniques I’d encountered on the internet, I arrived at my goal:

Iced Tea

  • Get a small pot, something you might cook a single can of soup in, and fill it with water.
  • Toss in 5 tea bags of Orange Pekoe. (Lipton is good, sort of creamy. Tetley is also good, although drier. I have yet to try the fabled Luzianne.)
  • Put the pot on a burner turned to high.
  • When the water begins to boil, turn off the heat and scoop the tea bags.
  • Transfer the tea concentrate into a jug already containing at least an equal amount of room temperature water. I actually tend to make this cool water, as I like to get to my tea sooner, but it can make your tea cloudy.
  • Put it in the fridge.

All right, fine, but if you drink that it will be fairly disgusting. There are still two more critical components to go:

Sugar Syrup

  • Using a 2:1 ratio of sugar:water, obtain the pan of your choice.
  • Combine (2 cups of sugar for 1 cup of water may seem lopsided, but trust me.) over high heat.
  • Stir. Stir. Stir.
  • Prepare yourself to experience the wonder you usually can’t get from anything short of an 8th grade science experiment:  Stir until it’s clear. (You’ll know it when it happens).
  • Transfer to dispensing device. (Honestly, I tend to use measuring cups.)
  • Store in fridge.

At this point some people dump their syrup straight into their mix, but I feel the amount of sugar in your iced tea is a deeply personal decision. You’ll also want to have lemon, wedges if you’re fancy, squirt bottle if you’re a realist. When you go to prep your cup just lay out a glass of ice, give it two quick squirts of juice, a dollop of sugar syrup and cover in tea. Give it a bit of a stir and if it doesn’t taste quite right, add some more sugar. If it tastes too sugary give it another half squirt of lemon.