Iced Tea

My menu for the Firefly Tea includes not hot tea but iced tea. I wanted to warn not to make the iced tea by the sun tea method. Yes, I know some people have used this method for years without a problem. But why take a risk?

The other day I took a photo of a cup of tea. I’d just thrown a tea bag into a warm water to get some color; I hadn’t made a proper cup. I’d absent-mindedly walked away from the tea and didn’t notice it again for two days. In that time, a thick layer of mold completely covered the surface of the tea. There had been nothing in that clean cup but a tea bag and hot water, no sugar, no lemon, just tea. Ick!

Tea made by the sun tea method never gets any hotter than 130ยบ. That’s not high enough to kill bacteria. While the caffeine in black tea will help prevent some types of bacteria from flourishing for a few hours, its effects won't last beyond that.

In addition, studies at the University of Miami link kidney stones to tea consumption with the interesting finding that sun tea might be the culprit. It seems that the extended steeping time of the sun-tea process brings out components of the tea that might aid in kidney-stone formation. Oh, boy.

Here’s how I make iced tea: Brew a double-strength concentrate to start. Use one ounce of whole-leaf tea for each quart of water just off the boil. Let steep for three to five minutes and then strain the tea. Dilute the concentrate with an equal amount of water. Pour over ice. Cover and refrigerate any remaining tea. If you like sweet tea, add sugar while the tea is still hot so that the sugar will dissolve. Sometimes I even add lemon after the tea has cooled a bit.