Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Classic Sweet Tea throws boiling water
out the window for fantastic results

It’s the most unusual way I’d ever seen to prepare iced tea: Putting tea bags in room temperature water.
   Usually iced tea recipes call for boiling water, adding tea bags and cooling the liquid down.
   But Cali Rich, a writer for America’s Test Kitchen, found the best way to make Classic Sweet Tea (click for the recipe)* was to forget the boiling water and look to another way of making the drink – sun tea.
   Her mother would make sun tea by filling a pitcher with cool water, adding tea bags, then setting the pitcher outside on the deck to steep all day.
   Rich wanted to find out if she could get the same results as her mother’s delicious sun tea, but inside and at a fraction of the time.
   Rich succeeded.
   Her Classic Sweet Tea recipe is fantastic. It’s perfectly sweet and completely refreshing.
   It’s now my go-to quick iced tea recipe.
   *Besides the America’s Test Kitchen paid-access site, the only other place on the Internet that I could find Rich’s recipe, along with its variations, was in a discussion thread on a cooking magazine website. This is the recipe I linked to above, and it is exactly the same as the one I used. You just need to scroll down a bit to find it.
   The simple syrup that sweetens the tea is make by heating sugar (I used Splenda instead) and water together until the sugar dissolves. The syrup is cooled to room temperature and can be refrigerated.
   To make the tea itself, 10 tea bags (I used Tetley Orange Pekoe) are submerged in four cups of room temperature water for 45 minutes.
   The tea bags are removed, and six-nine tablespoons of simple syrup are stirred in according to desired sweetness (I used seven.)
   At this point, I refrigerated the tea for several hours then served it over ice.
   I also made the Orangeade Iced Tea variety of Classic Sweet Tea, which required adding one tablespoon grated orange zest (orange peel) to the sugar and water when making the simple syrup. The zest is strained out and the syrup cooled.
   The orange citrus syrup is added to the sweet tea, along with two cups of lemonade (I simply used storebought lemonade).
   It was delicious, and has made me want to try a couple of the other varieties of Classic Sweet Tea: Cherry-Lime Rickey (lime citrus syrup and cherry juice) and Nantucket (lime citrus syrup and cranberry juice).

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