My grandmother was a “tea-totaler,” that is, tea was her total drink. She drank it all day long. Never with ice, mind you, it was hot tea year round. Apparently, consuming all that tea did her no harm. It may even have had a calming influence, because she survived the 1918 flu epidemic, the Great Depression, and a few tornados. She lived to be 93.
Perfect Iced Tea
As the days heat up, we begin to think about colder beverages, I talked with, Cyndy, my iced tea expert, who drinks the icy brew 12 months of the year. When we used to eat out at restaurants months ago (though it seems like years ago), I’d order my tea with lemon, she preferred hers straight up and unadulterated.
To slake her thirst, Cyndy makes a big container of tea each day. So I inquired about the formula. Here’s how she makes her daily brew.
Boil 4 cups of water and toss in two family-size tea bags. Let it sit for 4 minutes. Add 4 more cups of cold tap water. Viola! You have 8 cups of tea. Put tea in a large container or Mason jars in refrigerator. Add ice, lemon, sugar, or mint before serving. When I make it, I cut everything in half (except the 4 minutes of brewing time. 🙂
A Few Caveats
You don’t have to use a fancy, exotic tea to get this classic drink. Luzianne or Lipton varieties work just fine. If you want a stronger brew, add more tea rather than let the leaves or bags steep longer than recommended. Over steeping can cause bitterness, as does squeezing the tea bags.
Who “Invented” Iced Tea?
There’s long been a dispute over where iced tea had its beginning. Here in St. Louis we like to think it was at the 1904 World’s Fair along with ice cream cones, cotton candy, hot dogs, hamburgers, peanut butter, and the club sandwich. Most of those items were around before that, but were popularized on the mile-long Pike, considered to be the world’s first food court.
Serving cold tea likely began 40 years before the Fair. There are printed references going back to the 1860s.
Tea Beats Out Beer
While beer is the world’s most widely consumed alcoholic drink, it’s the third-most popular drink overall, after water and tea.
Yes, spring is here. It’s time to brew a big pitcher of iced tea and Zoom a few of your nearest and dearest friends. For now, let’s stay safe and refreshed in the Corona Cocoon. Someday we’ll clink glasses together again. Cheers!