There are so many ways to make iced tea, it’s probably impossible to write about all of them. I’m going to try to cover the ways that I’ve done it, the way my mother and siblings have done it and the way I’ve seen other people do it.
I always thought that making iced tea was incredibly simple and couldn’t be made any easier. Actually, the simplest way is to use instant iced tea but most instant iced tea tastes horrible compared to brewing tea with tea bags.
Iced tea makers are kitchen gadgets that make brewing tea extremely easy. All you have to do is to fill the reservoir with water, put the tea bags into the brewing chamber, and turn it on. In 10 to 15 minutes, you have freshly brewed tea.
The instructions won’t tell you how much tea to put in the chamber. You’ll have to figure it out yourself, in a trial and error kind of way.
To be honest, I had an iced tea maker sitting on my kitchen counter for more than two months before I attempted to use it. I had a couple of jars of instant iced tea in a cupboard and back then, I was drinking a lot more coffee than iced tea each day.
The way my mother and siblings brewed tea was to put tea bags in a sauce pan and let it boil for 10 to 15 minutes. After the tea cooled a little, the tea bags would be thrown away and the tea would be transferred to a gallon pitcher. Water would then be added to the pitcher to make the full gallon.
The tea bags wouldn’t be thrown away immediately. They usually poured the brewed tea into the pitcher, poured more water into the pan (over the tea bags) and then poured that water into the pitcher before adding more water. This was how they extracted the last remaining amount of tea still in the tea bags.
Although this sounds like a lot of work, it really isn’t. I’ve done it this way myself and I can tell you that it takes less time to do it this way than it does to use an automatic tea brewer.
In places where the sun shines most of the year, people make sun tea. Some entrepreneurial companies even make specialty glass containers for sun tea.
The way we always made sun tea was by filling an old pickle jar (which held a gallon) with water, put five of the small tea bags or three of the large tea bags in, and put the lid back on. We would leave it out in the sun for about two hours because we liked it strong.
Some people add nothing to the tea except ice cubes. Other people add sugar. Sometimes creamer is added to hot tea, but never to iced tea.
A lot of people, mostly southerners in the United States, like sweet iced tea. One of the chicken places I went to when I lived in that area of the country offered sweet iced tea with almost every order of chicken. It was so sweet that it was almost too sweet to drink.
I prefer my iced tea to be slightly sweetened without anything else added. Two small spoonfuls of sugar with 8-12 ounces of tea is more than enough.
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