It should be easy to make iced tea. The ingredients are simple enough -- tea bags, cold water and/or hot water and the optional lemon and sugar. But one nagging problem always seems to pop up: cloudy iced tea.
Kitchen Mailbox received a plea from Carol LeDonne of West Mifflin: "Do any of your readers know how to make iced that doesn't get cloudy the second day? I've made it on the stove and with an iced tea maker. Both get cloudy the second day."
Our always helpful readers came through with solutions and recipes.
Ruth Lewis of West Newton sent us the following from Cook's Illustrated: "The key to strong but not bitter flavor is water temperature. And unless the quality of your tap water is very, very good, spring water is the way to go; it produces tea with the freshest, cleanest, clearest look and taste. We found that a ratio of 5 tea bags to 1 quart of water worked best. The amount of sugar can be varied from 1 to 6 tablespoons, depending on how sweet you like it.
"Depending on the quality of your tap water, you may want to use bottled spring water to make both the tea itself and your ice cubes."
- 1 quart spring water
- 1 to 6 tablespoons granulated sugar or natural cane sugar (depending on desired sweetness)
- 1 quart ice cubes, plus additional cubes for glasses
Heat tea bags and water in medium nonreactive saucepan over medium heat until dark colored, very steamy, and small bubbles form on bottom and sides of pan (an instant-read thermometer will register about 190 degrees), 10 to 15 minutes. Off heat, steep for 3 minutes (no longer or tea may become bitter). Remove and discard tea bags; pour tea into pitcher. Stir in sugar, if using, until dissolved; stir in ice until melted. Serve in ice-filled glasses.
Makes 1 1/2 quarters, serving 4 to 6.
Our second response is from Wendy Betts of Winter Springs, Fla., "I was wondering if Ms. LeDonne could try adding a bit of boiled water to the tea. I make iced tea using the Mr. Coffee Iced Tea maker and it's never cloudy the next day."
Laura Bateman of Slippery Rock writes, "I have never had that problem. I make refrigerator tea, not sun tea: Pour 2 quarts of water in a glass pitcher (I don't use plastic). Put 6 tea bags in the pitcher (let the strips hang out outside the pitcher for easier removal). Place in refrigerator overnight. In the morning remove the bags and there you have it -- plain pure cold tea! And no 'sun' tea worries about leaving it outdoors for hours."
Teri Shaffer of Marshall found the following info: "I read a tip about not getting cloudy tea in Southern Living magazine a while back. They said that after the brewing is done, make sure the brew is completely cooled before adding the cold water. I have followed this rule ever since and have not had cloudy iced tea. It is common to become impatient when making tea or not planning enough time ahead of time to prevent cloudiness. They said it does not hurt the taste, but the full experience of iced tea is not as good if it is cloudy."
The following recipe is from Amy Graham of West Mifflin.
CLASSIC SWEET TEA
- 8 tea bags
- 2 cups boiling water
- 6 cups cold water
- 1 cup sugar
Place the tea bags into a glass measuring cup and pour the boiling water over the bags. Let steep for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile place the cold water into a pitcher. Remove the tea bags. Do not squeeze them! This will cause the tea to taste bitter. Add the sugar and stir until dissolved.
Add the tea mixture to the cold water. Serve with lemon wedges and ice. Refrigerate leftovers. Tea will not be cloudy the next day.
White tea is becoming the tea of choice these days. Here's a recipe from Salada Tea.
WHITE ICED TEA
Yields 4 to 6 glasses
- 1 quart boiling water
- 4 white tea or White Tea Asian Plum tea bags
- Fresh raspberries, orange slices or lemons
Place tea bags in a glass pitcher. Add boiling water. Steep for five minutes. Pour into ice-filled glasses. Add fresh raspberries, orange slices or lemons for natural flavor and sweetness.
This recipe is from Joanne Einloth of Carrick: "This iced tea is a clone of Snapple. For a gallon of iced tea, bring 2 quarts of water and 1 1/2 cups of sugar to a boil. When sugar is dissolved, add tea bags (I use 7) and turn off heat. Let steep for 30 to 60 minutes. Pour in gallon pitcher and add cold water. Flavor to taste (we like a whole lemon sliced). This tea doesn't usually last more than a day or two, but I have never had it get cloudy.
"I came up with this recipe myself. Boiling the sugar in the water seems to keep the tea clearer than adding the sugar later. Hope you like it as much as we do."
We made all five teas then placed them in the fridge overnight. The next morning we checked each for cloudiness, which ranged from perfectly clear to a tad cloudy. We liked all five teas. We particularly liked Ms. Bateman's sugarless refrigerator tea, which had a crisp, fresh flavor. We learned that clear iced tea depends on a number of little things from water temperature to how long the tea steeps. But in the end it all comes down to how it tastes and your preference.
Finally, here's a recipe from "Brilliant Food Tips and Cooking Tricks" by David Joachim.
EASY LEMONADE ICED TEA MIX
Mix 1 can (12 ounces) frozen lemonade with 1 1/2 cans water. Add to 1 quart prepared iced tea or sun tea. Makes 6 servings.
To prevent cloudy iced tea: Avoid placing hot tea in a cold fridge. Allow the tea to cool to room temperature before chilling. Or, pour cold water over the tea before brewing, then cover and refrigerate for at least 24 hours before straining.
To clear up cloudy iced tea, stir in some boiling water.
To cut bitterness add a pinch of salt to the tea.
To avoid diluting iced tea, make ice cubes out of tea. Pour 2 cups cooled steeped tea into an ice cube tray and freeze. Serve with iced tea."
-- "Brilliant Food Tips and Cooking Tricks" by David Joachim.
To request a recipe or send a recipe to Kitchen Mailbox, write the Pittsburgh, Post-Gazette c/o Arlene Burnett, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh 15222 or firstname.lastname@example.org .