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.

Spook House

In an effort to sort of guesstimate how much I actually read for pleasure in a year, I’ve decided to post up a mini-review when I finish something. This may actually convince me to read more by shaming me with how little I manage, but will hopefully give me a quick reference for how many books I’ve gotten through by the end of 2009.

Spook House is a fantastic book made up of short ‘horror’ stories set and written a century ago. The prose style mixes some of Ambrose Bierce’s journalistic background with sharp pacing, Bierce’s wording must have sounded sharp and short to many of his contemporaries. You won’t find many, if any, of these stories translatable to film, the stories are just too short, but Bierce has a way of presenting the tale so it seems more believable in its indescrepancies – there are almost always some secondary questions about each story that go unanswered, but its in these untied threads that the effect of the stories truly lingers in.

You can find quite a lot of Bierce’s work at The Literature Network, including one of my favourites, Chickamauga.

Rubberband Man

For a Friday afternoon, an excellent musical selection by an excellent wife.


Stay with it till the 3 minute mark if you want to see some proper old school showmanship.

RSL-(D. Poets Soc.)>E. Hawke-(R. Bites)>Keith David-(Novocaine)>Bacon


A brief history, and then a song, sung quite arrestingly by Robert Sean Leonard. Does the history part seem Burns-ian? It’s because its from a series by Ken’s brother Ric. Maybe more interestingly, does the singing voice seem familiar? That’s because it’s Robert Sean Leonard, these days largely known as Wilson. You know, Wilson: