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People ask me all the time, “How do you make iced tea?” And I answer, “There are a few ways, but really, it all comes down to how much time you have to steep your tea.” Here are two different suggestions that I offer to people who are willing to give it a try. An average iced tea pitcher holds about two quarts (or 8 cups), so these guidelines are going to be based after that.
To brew approximately 2 quarts of gourmet iced tea with loose tea leaves you’re going to want to use cold, fresh water from the tap, filtered or spring water. Do not try and reuse water you have already boiled since the oxygen will have evaporated. Believe it or not, this will have an effect on the taste of the tea. You will want to measure about 1/4 cup of tea leaves into your infuser. You will need a large infuser so that the leaves to have room to expand and brew properly for this quantity of leaves. A large basket infuser will work also. Use a teapot that the infuser will fit in and brew the tea. Heat four cups of water until it reaches the correct temperature: steaming (or scalding) for green tea and almost a full boil for black teas, oolong teas, herbal infusions and fruit blends. Once it gets to your desired temperature, you will need to pour it over the leaves immediately and cover your teapot. The steam will help unfurl the leaves so you get every bit of flavor from each one. Brew the tea for 5 minutes for black teas, 2-3 minutes for green and 10 minutes for Rooibos or herbal teas. Over brewing can cause the tea to taste bitter so use the appropriate time according to the specific tea.
After brewing, remove the leaves immediately. Fill a 2-quart pitcher with ice. Pour the tea into the pitcher and then add sugar or a sweetener if you like it sweet. Then, add enough cold tap water to fill the pitcher. This makes a strong tea, so if you would like it a little more diluted, add more water. The other way to make an iced tea is to add in 2 quarts (half-gallon) of cold water along with your loose tea leaves to your iced tea pitcher. Place in your fridge and allow the tea to steep overnight, or for 8-10 hours, depending on personal preference and how strong you want the tea. The longer you leave the tea bags in, the stronger the tea gets. (You can also vary the strength of your tea by adding more or less tea. The more tea you add, the stronger your brew will be.) Remove from the fridge and strain the tea leaves. Pour and enjoy over ice, and if needed, sweeten to taste. A 4oz. tin/pouch will make about 14 quarts.