It’s getting hot and muggy around here. Our entrance into the hot and muggy season was full of fits and starts, storm fronts and farmer’s markets. Now that we’re over the hump of it and fairly overheated, we look to care for our comfort and hydration.
Hence, iced tea.
I have a couple preferred methods for making a cold, crisp, refreshing iced beverage. Across the board, there are some guidelines:
Our palates taste things more intensely the closer the thing is to our body’s temperature. As we progress a beverage towards freezing or boiling the perception of the flavor is reduced and this is especially true for cold things. Since the molecules are moving slowly, they are engaging our taste receptors less. For brewing, this means using 1.25-1.75x as much tea or tisane as you might use for a hot beverage.
There are many ways to achieve a cold beverage. The two primary factors to pay attention to are time and temperature. The higher the temperature, the shorter the time. Inversely, the lower the temperature, the longer the brewing will take. A higher temperature also will change certain chemical compounds, such as organic acids, altering the flavor. The reason to do one over the other is often personal taste.
Camellia Sinensis teas can often go either way. They show up well as a hot-over-ice kinda tea and also as a solar brew. Tisanes can be a little trickier, since they often carry several different botanicals and they each have different brewing potentials. If the tisane has an abundance of roots or dense materia, I would opt for the low-and-slow method. If it has lighter materia, such as flowers, leaves, or other aerial parts, I would go for the hot-over-ice method. Alternatively, highly aromatic aerial parts can show exceptionally well as a solar brew.
Any time you are using heat to brew, the vessel you are brewing in needs to be covered. After the hot water hits the plant material, it immediately starts to release the aromatic esters and other light phytochemicals into the air. This is what you smell when tea is brewing. This is all flavor and medicine! Covering it during the extraction process ensures that all of that vital yumminess is reserved in your brew.
The following recipes are suggestions for how to go about brewing via the different methods. Please edit them for your own taste and preference. Make them your own!
Iced Tea (hot-over-ice)
Yield, 1 liter
- 500g boiling water
- 500g ice cubes
- 50g tea or tisane
- Brew the tea with the hot water for 20 minutes, covered.
- Strain directly over prepared ice.
- Mix in any fresh fruit, herbs such as mint, sweeteners, or booze to taste.
Sun Tea (solar brew)
Yield, 1 liter
- 1000g room temperature water
- 75g tea
- Place water and tea (maybe in a reusable tea bag) into a large glass vessel. Glass is vital since it passes the light of the sun and better retains its warmth. Glass also does not hold onto flavors and won’t leach anything back into your tea. Cover with lid.
- Place in direct sunlight, ideally outside or in a window, and allow to brew for a minimum of six hours.
- Strain and alter to taste! I often find the solar brews taste sweeter by nature, so I suggest tasting before sweetening or spiking with anything fun.
I’d love to see what y’all are getting up to with your summer beverages, please tag us on Instagram or reach out to us directly with questions or stories about your favorite teas.