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Sep 19, 2009 12:05 PM

9/09: ICED TEA Your Beverage of Choice? Space and Time Saving Technique

What cook ever has ENOUGH space in the frig?Well, not me, and that's an understatement. Being a year 'round Iced Tea drinker (my [Southern ] roots are showing),
my technique for saving refrig space, and prep time, is this:
I make an iced tea concentrate. There is no 'best' recipe but I basically bring to a boil about 4 c. of water, turn it off, add the twisted together bags of 8 teabags, cover and steep for a few hours to get a strong concentrate. I remove the bags, use some of the mixture to make a pitcher, and store the remaining concentrate in the frig., using it to refill my 1/2 gal. pitcher of iced tea (For each batch, I fill the pitcher with water, leaving space to add the concentrate and sweetener at the end. ) For variety, I sometimes keep 2 different concentrates on hand.

Of course, I use loose teas as well. (Peach is a fav of mine, from Upton Tea Co.) Now, I DO understand that long steeping is 'verboten' by many tea afficianadoes, for various tea varieties. So you experiment and see what works for your palate. And if you are really crammed for refrig space, make concentrate using less water. Because I travel alot with iced tea, I take along little juice containers of concentrate so that all i need is water and sweetener to replenish my travelling companion!

I developed this technique in my catering co. and it saved a lot of space and hauling effort (concentrate weighs nothing compared to gallons of pre-assembled iced tea) over the years!

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  1. That is a great idea. I'll have to try it. I call our fridge, Rubik's Refrigerator, because of all the moving and shifting of items to get to the one you want. ;-)

    1. What ratio of loose leaf tea to water do you use? And how long is your steeping time for black tea?

      1 Reply
      1. re: amy_wong

        amy, as i said, there are no rules. As to how I do it, i use maybe 1/3 c. loose tea of any type in 2-4 c. water.(enough water so that the saturated tea, which expands ALOT, doesn't absorb all the water!) I let it steep a few hrs.

        The way i figure it is that 1 tsp of loose tea makes 1 or 2 glasses of (i drink it somewhat weak so i don't get too jazzed) iced tea for me. There's 16 tsp of tea in 1/3 c., so that concentrate will last me awhile.

      2. i had an elderly friend who made the concentrate, unsweetened, but left it in the pyrex on the counter, simply covered with plastic wrap. she'd drink that over a couple or three days, heating and sweetening cup by cup (picardie tumblers, actually).

        2 Replies
        1. re: alkapal

          oooooh, NOT a good idea. she must not have had a sensitive palate.both iced tea and concentrate go bad very quickly if unrefrigerated. i can't tell you how many times i have had to send back bad iced tea at restaurants. i sometimes even have to trash my refrigerated concentrate if i haven't used it quickly enough,

          1. re: opinionatedchef

            Even if I leave it out for 24 hours, it develops that cloud like substance floating on top, which I understand is strands of bacteria. So I don't do sun tea anymore.

            This concentrate sounds like a good idea, no more gallons of tea taking up space (if indeed I have any), since I'm afraid to leave it out even for a few hours anymore.

        2. Two tips I've learned: don't squeeze the tea bags when you are done and add about 1/8 tsp of baking soda to the brewing tea. It takes away that bitter flavor you sometimes get. It works great! Love the idea of the concentrate. Thanks!

          1 Reply
          1. re: Just One Bite

            baking soda as a counter to tannins? how fascinating. I wonder if Mr. Wizard, Harold McGhee, has written about that in his books.