Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Simple Pleasures: Homemade Iced Tea

I am definitely an iced tea girl.  I prefer it over all other soft drinks and we drink gallons of it when it's hot outside.  Over the years I have noticed that commercially made iced tea has gotten sweeter and sweeter; more akin to soda pop than tea.  I found a recipe for a Snapple knock-off about 12 years ago and have been using it ever since.  It tastes like cold tea flavored with lemon and sweetened with real sugar; just what I  like my iced tea to be.

For one jug of iced tea you will need:

3 orange pekoe tea bags*
8 cups of boiling water
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup, plus 2 Tbsp lemon juice

Pour boiling water over the tea bags.  Cover and let steep one hour.  Stir in sugar until dissolved and add lemon juice.  You may need to tweak the recipe a bit to get it just right for you.

Because we drink so much of this, I didn't enjoy having to make it from scratch every time.  That whole hour steeping thing can  be a pain when you're really thirsty!  I have made multiple batches and frozen them in plastic bags, but then again you have to wait to drink it.  I also experimented with making a concentrate, where I quadrupled the amount of tea, sugar and lemon juice, but left the water at 8 cups.  After making sure the sugar was dissolved I divided the mixture up  into 2 cup units and froze those.  This was a lot of work, and again you have to wait until the concentrate thaws before making up a jug.

 This year I finally found a solution that works for me.  I pour eight cups of boiling water over 12 tea bags.  I let it steep for an hour or so, or really just whenever I get back to it.  After taking out the bags I pour the tea into four, 2 cup containers and put them in the fridge.  Whenever I need to make a new jug, I pour one container of tea concentrate into the jug and add 6 cups of water; 3/4 cup of sugar and 1/3 cup or so of lemon juice.  Doing it this way means it's faster to make jug refills, and I can tell at a glance how much concentrate I have left in the fridge.
*Because I have been giving this to my kids since they were really little, and I let them drink quite a bit of it, I use decaffeinated orange pekoe teabags.  This summer I am going to introduce a bit of regular tea (probably a 1:4 ratio) and will keep substituting for a year or so until I only use regular tea.

This week promises to be another hot one.  We will be drinking lots of iced tea and I'll be reading these:

Oh there's not much better than a good stitchy magazine!

Have a great day :)


Patty C. said...

My husband looooooves sweet tea - I hate it - un-sweet tea with lemon for me.

Those magazines look wonderful - happy reading :)

Stephanie said...

With a dad from Texas I drank sweet tea since I was little. Big jar filled with water and tea bags steeped in the California Sunshine. Then add sugar! Once I got in high school I "weaned" myself off the sweet stuff. But oh how I love tea. We, too, drink gallons not much sunshine at times so I use my Mr. Coffee Teamaker. Peach is my favorite.

Pumpkin said...

I agree, there is nothing better than homemade ice tea :o) I have a recipe similar to yours but it doesn't take long at all and it makes two big pitchers at a time.

Ohhhhh, stitchy magazines :o)

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