In warm weather, minds drift to cold-brewing methods. Coffee-drinkers talk toddy. At Chambre de Sucre, our hot-weather topic is the cold brewing of tea to quench our iced-tea habit.
Cold-brewing a slower process thanstandard hot-water steeping, but the bright, delicate, complex flavors are worth the wait. We’re not the only ones who thinks so. Even the New York Times appreciates cold-brewed tea.
The easiest method is to put tea in cold water in the refrigerator. Leave it there overnight or tuck it away when you go to work. When you get up in the morning or come home from the office,fresh tea will be waiting.
There are lots of discussions about how much tea you should use. With that long, slow brew, though, you have plenty of control over the time of steeping – so choosing exactly the right weight oftea isn’t as vital. (Compare this with hot-brewed tea, where a couple of minutes will see it done.)
We’re not going to dictate, not only because tea is intensely personal, but also because it’s variable. Like it dark? You’ll want a different amount of Assam than you will Ceylon, and then there are Silver Needle, Sencha, tisanes, and crossovers such as Moroccan green tea with mint.
If you have an eight-cup pitcher of water, add between four and seven tablespoons of loose tea. Use fill-your-own teabags (We favor unbleached ones, because who needs bleach in the belly?) in a glass pitcher or invest in a purpose-made cold tea maker, like the one from Takeya. Whatever you do, choose a pitcher with a snug lid. In twelve hours of fridge-time, water can soak up lots of flavors you don’t want. It nicks them from refrigerator companions: leeks, grapefruit, that lump of tasty cheeseyou’re saving for at-home film night. Go for glass; it’s the healthiest choiceby far, and it won’t affect the taste of you tea.
Take notes of which tea you pick, and how much you use. Set it in the fridge and find something else to do. After eight hours, taste the tea. Remember. It’s going to be on ice, which means it will be diluted. You want it to start on the strong side. If it’s perfect at eight hours, then take the leaves out of the water. Not right yet? Let the leaves soak. Go back in an hour, and taste them again. You’ll find the Mama Bear point – just right for you.
By the end of the summer, you’ll have a well-used jug, a notebook filled with teas, portions, and times, a list of mixes, and friends queuing up for recipes for “that fabulous iced tea youserved that afternoon when . . .”
Short on fridge space? Follow a Southern tradition, and make sun tea.This method takes advantage of the season’s light. Solar tea. How sustainableis that?
Making sun tea is a summer breeze. Put tea in a big glass jar, put a lid on it, and stick it in the sun for three to five hours, until the taste and color make yours a happy world.
Experiment. White tea, green,honeybush, rooibos, herbal, black, green, fruity blends . . . If you’re short of inspiration, have a look at the wide range of teas from venerable Russian firm, Kusmi. You could treat yourself to cool health with one of their “Wellness”blends. The citrusy Detox lends itself especially well to icing, and Cool (a great digestif) lives up to its licorice-laced name – but cold-brewing will showcase any high-quality tea in the house, and it’s irresistibly easy to make.
Think in color. Mint teas bring visual coolness to the table. Rose hip and hibiscus teas make teetotal pours as pretty as any sangria – and, yes, you can pour them over glasses filled with ice and fresh-cut fruit.
You know we’re adding the perfect sugar to our glasses. Sugar huggers are perfect complements to iced tea. Theysnug the rims like little clouds. Elephants and (neko) cats have ancient associations with good luck. Angel wings help the cups soar to guests’ lips.
We didn’t promise you lasting pleasures.The tea and the sugar will go, but that notebook of recipes? You’ll use that year after year. In some ways, summer never ends.