To my mind, few things are as refreshing on a hot summer day as a glass of iced tea. Of course, I’m not referring to the powdered products to which you just add water. Iced tea simply must be made with real tea leaves sweetened with sugar or honey. What’s more, I think traditional Southern iced tea might be my favorite way to prepare this refreshing summer beverage. I think there’s something about the flavor of orange pekoe or breakfast blend that lends itself to being chilled and served with slices of lemon.
Traditionally, Southern iced tea uses one of the black teas associated with the British. You can use teas like Earl Grey, Orange Pekoe, Darjeeling or whatever strikes your fancy. Personally, I prefer using Earl Grey. I think Earl Grey’s dry finish and flavors of orange and bergamot make it an ideal match for the refreshing flavor of lemon. Add something sweet to take the edge off Earl Grey’s dry finish and boy, howdy do you have a great summer drink.
To brew your iced tea you’ll need the following:
9 cups water
4 slices lemon
14 tsp loose leaf tea
4 Tbsp honey
In a saucepan or tea kettle bring 9 cups water to a slow rolling boil.
Once the water comes to a boil remove from the heat, add the tea leaves and steep 4-5 minutes.
Meanwhile, place lemon slices and honey in a large pitcher along with a half a cup of cold water.
Once the tea is ready, strain out the tea leaves and add the tea to the pitcher. Reserve leaves for another use or discard.
Place the tea in the fridge and chill. When chilled, add ice and serve.
Finally, I have just a couple final notes and variations and you’ll be ready to go.
First of all, I can’t say enough good things about using loose leaf tea versus tea bags. As with all cooking, your final product only tastes as good as the ingredients used. Tea bags just don’t provide as much flavor.
Second, you’ll probably notice I’ve called for almost double the amount of tea leaves used to make tea. The reason for this is once you add ice to your pitcher and it starts to melt, your tea will become diluted and weaker tasting. Using extra tea leaves compensates for this.
Finally, I’ve suggested using Earl Grey because it’s my favorite tea to use. If you prefer Orange Pekoe or some other tea, by all means use it.