When it comes to the hot beverages that give us our morning boost, there’s no doubt the US is a coffee nation first and foremost, with hot tea lacking the market share it so famously enjoys on the other side of the pond. But as temperatures heat up, Americans love to cool off with tall glasses of iced tea. Whether it’s the sweet tea of the South or the unsweetened fare in northern regions, iced tea is undoubtedly a spring and summer staple. Whether you’re looking for new approaches to an old favorite or have been avoiding iced tea because of one bad batch many years ago, consider some of these ways to change the way you make iced tea this year.
Infuse New Flavors
Plain iced tea can be delicious, but over the course of spring and summer, it can get a little monotonous. Use the flavor profile of black tea as a jumping-off point to introduce extra flavors. Infuse some basil leaves in sugar and water to form a syrup that will lend your iced tea an inimitably fresh taste. Add sweetness and tartness with a recipe for raspberry peach tea. And you can always add fresh lemon slices to your pitcher—you can tell they’re working their magic because the chemical reactions yield a much lighter tea than the ruby red of straight black tea.
Cold-Brew Your Tea
Conventionally, we make our iced tea by bringing water to a rolling boil, steeping the tea for ten to 15 minutes, and removing the bags before the tannins make the tea unbearably bitter. Just as cold-brewing your coffee brings out different flavors, so too will cold-brewing your tea. Forgo the kettle and fill your pitcher with ice-cold water before adding your tea bags. Send it straight to your refrigerator and let it sit overnight—eight to ten hours should be all you need. Take care of this right before bed, and by morning, you’ll have a gallon of delicious cold-brewed tea with a lighter, smoother, and almost fruitier flavor than what you’re used to. Best of all, you’re taking an approach to the popular sun tea that not only yields a more subtle flavor, but is much safer in the confines of your fridge.
Here’s how to change the way you make iced tea—say bye to the bags and switch to loose-leaf tea. When you place loose leaves in an infuser, you’re getting a higher quality tea leaf than the dust that goes into teabags. You may pay a little more, but you’ll use less tea each time, and you can’t argue with the boost in flavor. Whether you upgrade, cold-brew, or flavorize your tea this year, you’re sure to enjoy our summertime staple more than ever.