Iced tea is the perfect summers drink, refreshing, tasty and packed with antioxidants. It takes a bit of time to make correctly though, which means it can be tempting to buy 'instant' iced tea that you add water to or simply grab a bottle from the corner shop. But both options, while convenient, lack choice and are often packed with sugar and additives.
Making your own iced drink from your favourite tea might take a little more time, but it's worth every second. Take a look at these top tips to ensure your iced tea is perfect every time.
Preparing ice tea
Use fresh, loose leaf tea
Don't be tempted to use up your old or cheap tea; iced tea should still be as high quality and flavoursome as your regular drinks. Opting for loose leaf teas over teabags will ensure the flavour is fully released, this is particularly important if you are making your iced tea in a large jug. If you have to use teabags, look for large shaped ones, which give the ingredients more space to infuse.
Start with spring or filtered tap water
It can be tempting to opt for mineral water, as you will eventually be drinking the beverage cold, however the minerals can create off-flavours when they come in contact with compounds in the tea leaves. Choose spring or filtered water to ensure the best tasting brew.
Get the temperature spot on
Using hot water to brew the tea, then allowing the liquid to cool and chill is the best way to make iced tea, to guarantee the finest flavour. Just like when you' re making regular tea, the temperature of the water is essential; use boiling water to brew black, herbal and darker-coloured oolong teas and cooler water (just off the boil) to brew green, white and lighter oolongs teas.
Use the right amount of tea
Carefully consider how much tea you're making before measuring out the leaves, it's likely you'll want to make a large jug to keep in the fridge or for when guests visit, so you'll need to use more leaves than usual. If you're in a rush and don't have time for your tea to fully cool, brew a double strength tea to compensate for the extra water which will come from the melting ice cubes.
Steep for the perfect length of time
Often people look for stronger flavours in their iced teas, this is great if you are cooling herbal or fruit infusions as a longer brew won't oversteep, it will simply release more flavours. If however, you wish to ice black, oolong, green or white teas, it's important not to oversteep. Just like when making your usual tea, darker leaves should be steeped for between three and five minutes, while green, white and lighter oolongs need just two or three minutes.