Many people say there's nothing more American than apple pie. However there is another sweet treat that's one hundred percent red, white, and blue.
From coast to coast, Americans are wild about iced tea. What many don't realize is that although it's based on an Asian brew, iced tea is an American innovation.
Iced tea's popularity can be traced to the heat wave of 1904 when tea merchant Richard Blechynden decided to serve tea over ice at an exposition in St. Louis. Americans have since perfected different methods of making iced tea, along with several innovate recipes.
Black teas from Ceylon, China and Java are most commonly used to make iced tea. Flavored teas such as lemon green tea, peach black tea, Formosa oolong, or Japanese sencha may also be used.
While some prefer their chilly brew without sugar, iced tea can also be taken sweet. Superfine baking sugar or bartender's sugar should be used to sweeten the flavour. Other options including preparing sugar syrup on the stove using a 1:1 water and sugar and simmering the mixture for a few minutes. The sugar syrup will keep in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
Iced tea may be made by cold or hot steeping. In cold steeping, dry tea leaves are placed in a clean jug filled with an appropriate amount of cold water. The infusion is refrigerated for at least six hours or overnight, and then strained into a second jug or container. Sugar or lemon may be added prior to serving.
To brew iced tea using the hot steeping method, three options are available:
Use twice the quantity of dry tealeaves that you would ordinarily use for hot tea. Infuse in hot water for five minutes, and then pour over a full glass of ice. For best results, let the tea cool before pouring it over ice to prevent clouding or creaming down.
Double the tealeaf amount, steep for 5 minutes in hot water, and then pour the infusion into a container with the same amount of cold water. This method dilutes the strong tea and prevents clouding.
Steep black tea in boiling water for 5-8 minutes. Strain the brewed tea into a container containing cold water, and then add sugar or lemon to taste. If you brewed too strong a concentrate, it will be diluted when poured over ice. If you still find the tea too strong, you may add a little water until you have the perfect iced brew.
Many people enjoy mixing their iced tea with an equal amount of lemonade or other fruit juices. Take care that the juice does not overpower the flavour of the tea. Sweetened, flavoured, hot or cold brewed, iced tea is an age-old American tradition. Brew up a pot today and for a real taste of America, serve it with a big slice of apple pie.