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Fierce Foodie: The Secret of Happy Tea


a blogumn by Roya Hamadani

Photo Credit: drp

The secret of making good iced tea is much like one of the secrets to happiness, namely, the avoidance of bitterness.  Good iced tea isn’t weak, but isn’t bitter either.  Rather than steep the tea longer, use more tea to increase the strength of the flavor.  A good rule of thumb is to use twice as much tea for iced tea as you would for hot tea.

Always use a glass container because plastic or metal containers can leach odd flavors and odors.  Nobody ever says, “Mmm, this tastes so yummy and metallic.”  Start by making a concentrate, which you do by steeping with only two cups of boiling water, and then adding the rest of the water after the steeping is done.  Never let your tea sit in boiling water for more than five minutes, as the result will be bitter.  A pinch of baking soda added during the steeping has also been suggested for removing bitterness.  Don’t squeeze the tea bags after steeping, as this also will release bitterness.

Let the tea come to room temperature before putting it in the fridge.  In order to sweeten the tea, be fancy and offer drinkers sugar syrup instead of plain old granulated sugar, which will most likely drop to the bottom of their glass like sand.  This simple syrup is made by simmering 1 cup of sugar in 1 and ½ cups of water.

Remember, homemade iced tea is lovely, but best consumed within 24 hours or else, you guessed it, it gets bitter. Recipe for Mango Iced Tea after the jump:

Mango Iced Tea

6 black tea bags

16 oz mango nectar

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

1 lemon cut into half slices

simple sugar syrup

First brew 2 quarts (8 cups) strong black tea: Add 2 cups of boiling water to 6 tea bags and a pinch of baking soda.  Do not steep for more than five minutes.  Remove tea bags (do not squeeze! Resist the urge!).  Add remaining 6 cups of water.  Allow tea to come to room temperature, and then combine with about 16 oz of mango nectar and 1/3 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice.  Refrigerate until cold.  Before serving, add ice.  Offer sugar syrup on the side.  (Remember, it’s just 1 cup of sugar simmered until it dissolves in 1 and 1/2 cups water.)  Garnish with slices of lemon and enjoy!