I know, it’s been a while since I last posted but I haven’t forgotten my readers or my mission. I made a promise to help you discover tea and I will keep it because there is such an exciting world of flavours and aromas waiting for you! Life just got in the way a little bit as it always does but I’m back, with more energy, drive and passion than before.
We still have a long journey of discovery ahead, but no prepared explorer leaves without supplies. As it’s summertime, I thought we should take some refreshing ice tea with us, so I’m sharing my top tips on making a natural, sugar-free brew at home.
The difference between natural and powdered ice tea
Before I share some tips, I wanted to clarify something. In many parts of the world, and particularly in the US, ice tea is a powder you mix with water and voila! Job done. But as I’ve already mentioned my stance on tea bags (hint: I run away from them as fast as I run away from spiders), you can probably imagine what I think about powdered ice tea.
It’s not that I have something against convenience, but if you read the ingredient deck on that stuff it’s very often 90% sugar or sweetener and a shocking 0.5% tea.
Ice tea the natural way
I’m going to teach you how to make a drink with 100% tea and if you want to add sugar, honey or other sweeteners, that is your own decision! I don’t judge, I’m just giving you the option.
- Best types of tea for ice tea – depending on your palette and preferences, pretty much any tea can make a good ice tea. If you’re a regular black coffee drinker or dark chocolate lover, black tea would be a good one to start with because you don’t mind a slightly bitter taste. Try a lighter blend or tea such as a Ceylon or Darjeeling and don’t add milk because it won’t hold its strength/taste. If you’re like me and you have a sweet tooth, I would recommend using a smooth green tea like Gunpowder or any white tea. Or better yet, opt for a blend with dried fruit and flowers to enhance the flavour. Fortnum & Mason sells a green tea and apple blend which makes a lovely cold brew!
- How to brew it – looking on the internet you’ll find cold and hot brew instructions for ice tea. Personally I prefer the hot method as you can add ice cubes to the tea to cool it down straight away rather than waiting for as much as 2-4 hours to steep the leaves! Add double the amount of tea you normally would or half the water. For example, in a six cup teapot you can either use 12 teaspoons of tea leaves and fill up with water or add half the amount of water to 6 teaspoons. The only difference is the quantity you’ll end up with! Leave it to steep according to the instructions – 3-5 minutes for the green tea and apple blend above, for instance. Then get a generous amount of ice cubes so you double the volume of liquid and you’re done! Ready to drink ice tea.
- Enhancing the flavour – cold/frozen drinks and food need to pack a punch to tickle our taste buds (that’s why melted ice cream tastes sickly sweet, whereas when it’s frozen it seems to have just the right amount of sugar). In order to prevent ice tea from tasting bitter or bland, I’d recommend adding your favourite fruit to the mix – citrus, berries and melons will add a whole other layer of deliciousness. If not, you can also add sugar, honey or other natural sweeteners just don’t be too generous with the portion!
- Freshness – tea tends to get a bit bitter with age, so I’d recommend drinking it in three days at most. My batches never last that long!
- Recommended blends – if this is your first time making ice tea (and even if it isn’t), opt for a fruity blend like the Chelsea Garden blend from Whittard, Green & Elderflower from Fortnums or Peach Sencha from Easy Teasy. Of course, if you want a non-caffeinated option, try a Vanilla Rooibos from Dragonfly Tea or Rooibos Tropica from Teavana. These are just some examples, but feel free to experiment and make your own blends too!
Putting it into practice
An iced surprise in Romania
I was travelling to Romania last summer and I encountered this lovely cafe that sold an incredible variety of tea. By far my favourite was the White Pear and Berries ice tea which you can see in the video. It not only gave me an instant, delicious and refreshing drink, but it was quite a really cool experience too. Try to replicate it at home with your guests and you’re sure to impress them!
Ready to try making ice tea? Please, please, please share your ideas and favourite recipes or blends with me. I love to try new things!