Summer is here! For some, this means the end of school and for others, it means long evening walks and frequent trips to the beach. For us here at Herbal Republic, where tea is an inevitable and indispensable part of daily life, it means drinking tea over ice more frequently than in the other months of the year. While iced tea may well be a trademark of the Southern United States, it is a great beverage to sip on warm days no matter where in the world you reside.
Being huge fans of iced tea, we know that iced tea’s true magic lies in its wondrous tendency to cool down those who drink it who may otherwise be suffering from the heat while offering a flavour experience that is far more pleasing and engaging than plain old ice water. Used by some as a post-workout beverage, and by others as a drink to sip away at slowly during backyard barbecues, iced tea’s true beauty is evident in its versatility. The energising caffeine content paired with tea’s naturally calming characteristics makes this the ideal drink for nearly every situation. I can personally attest to its ability to re energise and replenish the body’s resources after a run or trip to the local gym and I am amazed time and time again at its refreshing and invigorating qualities.
It is in these summer months that people turn to cold beverages the most for refuge from the heat. Unfortunately, more often than not, this refuge is derived from sugary sodas and juices. The toll these have on the human body is evident in the West’s rising rates of obesity, diabetes and other devastating lifestyle diseases that can be attributed to the sugary drinks most often enjoyed in the summer. Iced tea offers a pleasant and more natural alternative for those seeking to improve their health and the health of loved ones. Whether you are hosting a barbecue, a party, or simply enjoying a family meal, serving unsweetened iced tea instead of soda or juice will ensure that your guests and loved ones are preserving their health while still enjoying a great taste.
When brewing tea specifically to drink over ice there are a few things that need to be kept in mind. The first of these is that not all tea will perform equally when served over ice. Some teas, such as Chai tea which is spiced with various exotic spices and seasonings, is blended with the purpose of being served hot, allowing its pleasant characteristics to shine through more fully. When selecting what tea to serve over ice, careful consideration should be made as to which tea’s qualities will be most complimented by a cool temperature. As personal taste is the most important factor, often the most reliable way to select which tea will be most enjoyed cold is through trial and error. Simply try several teas over ice before deciding which one you like. More than anything the choice is personal and should be based primarily on your own preferences and the preferences of those you are serving.
As for the actual brewing process, the hot-brew method is by far the most convenient and time-saving method, even for iced tea. The hot-brew method refers to simply infusing your tea leaves in hot water for the desired amount of time (usually 3-5 minutes depending on personal taste) and removing the leaves after the desired time has passed. After the hot brew method is complete, allow your tea to cool long enough for it to arrive at room temperature before serving over ice. This makes sure that your iced tea won’t be watered down as much by ice melted by the hot liquid, and it reduces the chances of your glass being shattered by the stress of temperature extremes. Keep in mind that when a tea is served cold, much of its flavour and complexity is lost to the cooler temperature. Many people (myself included) prefer to brew tea stronger (More leaves and longer brew times) if it is to be served over ice. This makes the end result more enjoyable and presents a more vibrant flavour in the glass.
Iced tea will keep in the fridge for a few days but it is best when enjoyed fresh. While brewing iced tea isn’t difficult or very time consuming, keeping in mind that some teas are better over ice than others and that stronger brewing parameters benefit the end result will ensure that you receive the maximum enjoyment from your iced tea experience. It truly is a guilt free beverage at zero calories and with no additives, sweeteners (unless you add one), or preservatives, it is healthy as well. Enjoy the best that summer has to offer by brewing up a tall glass of iced tea for you and your loved ones!