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:
- 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:
- 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.