Iced tea a taste of summer in every sip

By: Loryll Nicolaisen, Journal features editor
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Iced tea is the ultimate summer drink. No matter whether you like it strong and black, sweet and green, or fruity and light, a sip of iced tea can refresh to the core on the hottest of days. “It’s something that’s nice and cool and refreshing,” said Chelsea Federwitz, chef at Newcastle Produce. “I like iced tea, especially black tea, sweetened. It’s just very refreshing.” At the most basic level, all you need for iced tea is the tea, water and a container. And ice, of course. There are a couple different ways to go about preparing iced tea, Federwitz said. Start by picking out a tea. Think of white, green, oolong and black as your basics, Federwitz said. Make a cold brew in the fridge by adding six tea bags or six teaspoons loose tea to four cups cold water. Cover your container and place in the fridge for eight hours before removing bags or straining tea. Harness some solar energy and make sun tea — proceed as if you were making cold brew, but place your pitcher in direct sun for two to four hours before removing bags or straining loose tea. Speed things up with a hot water brew. Each type of tea has its own brewing time, which you should follow in order to maximize flavor and avoid the bitter bite of an overdone tea, Federwitz said. “The longer you let it sit the more bitter it becomes,” she said. No matter the type, an easy rule to follow is using one teaspoon (or one tea bag) tea per cup of water. Green tea should steep in 160-degree water for one to three minutes. White tea steeps at 180 degrees for four to eight minutes. Keep oolong at 190 degrees anywhere from one to nine minutes. Get the most out of black tea by steeping at a rolling boil for three to five minutes. No matter how you steep it, what’s fun about iced tea is that you can start simple and build up from there. There are a couple different ways to sweeten tea, Federwitz said. Add your sugar or honey to the hot water when making tea on the stovetop. Simple syrup blends better with cold brew — make it by bringing equal parts water and sugar to a boil and then simmering for a few minutes, Federwitz said. Agave nectar is another option when considering sweeteners, Federwitz added. Looking for other ways to spruce up iced tea? Try mint or other fresh herbs like rosemary or thyme, Federwitz suggests. Give lemongrass and ginger a try. Citrus goes great with tea, so add some fresh-cut lime, or lemon or orange peel. “In a green tea what’s really good is sliced cucumber,” Federwitz suggested. Tea has also become a popular flavor component for cocktails. The Club Car carries Seagram’s Sweet Tea Vodka, which can be consumed straight, over ice, or in Club Car’s Sweet Tea Palmer, a specialty drink made from the vodka and lemonade. “Sweet tea cocktails, like the Sweet Tea Palmer, are great for summer because they are refreshing and there is virtually no alcohol taste, which makes them easy to sip for just about any of-age individual,” said Sarah Sanders-Nolivo, Club Car owner. “Everyone who tries the Sweet Tea Palmer is amazed at how good it tastes. Some flavored vodkas don’t taste at all like the flavor they claim, and can end up tasting more like flavored cough medicine. For whatever reason, this isn’t so for the sweet tea flavor.” Reach Loryll Nicolaisen at __________ Sweet Tea Palmer 1 1/2 oz Seagram’s Sweet Tea Vodka Lemonade Lemon, for garnish Pour vodka over ice in a tall glass. Fill glass with lemonade. Garnish glass with lemon wedge. ~Recipe courtesy of The Club Car Bar & Restaurant