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May 4, 2011 07:10 PM

Need help with large quantity of iced tea

Yes, it's me again - in addition to mint juleps I need to/want to serve iced tea fro derby day - many non-drinkers in my little town. I have done some research and am confused about whether or not I should make "sun tea" or boil the water and let it it steep. I have some good tea bags from the Empress Hotel in Victoria - I also have limited fridge space once I make it. So --- should I just boil some water, add bags and then ice it? And can I leave it at room temperature over night after it is has "steeped" and before I ice it? Sorry if this is annoying - I honestly am not sure how to do it

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  1. I make a pitcher of iced tea by filling it half full of boiling water (with a full pitcher's worth of tea bags or loose tea in a mesh ball). Later or the next day I add the ice to fill the pitcher the rest of the way.
    Doing it that way, just double up on the amount of tea leaves in each full pitcher you make, and add ice near serving time to dilute it to fill two pitchers.
    Mint in the tea is nice, too.
    I never made sun tea very often, and never at all after I read that it harbors bacteria in all the time it takes to steep out there.
    Hope your derby day is fun.

    7 Replies
    1. re: jmcarthur8

      erm, i remember the restaurant method for brewing iced tea changing back when i was serving banquets when i was a teenager. it is definitely not safe to leave tea hot or at room temp overnight and ice just before serving. the tea needs to be brewed, cooled quickly, stored safely (cold).

      lacking a san jamar type set-up, the op should consider having lots of ice on hand, or maybe making big ice blocks (in empty cleaned milk/oj cartons, perhaps, for cooling the tea? if s/he has one of those insulated beverage dispensing coolers, or could borrow one, it could perhaps keep the tea cold for longer. if it doesn't sound like too much of a PITA, the op could even freeze tea into ice cube trays or whatever beforehand and use that to cool the tea. sorry, just throwing out ideas here :)

      1. re: soupkitten

        Agreed on the food-safety thing! I, unfortunately, know the consequences of tea left at room temp too long. :-\

        1. re: soupkitten

          it is definitely not safe to leave tea hot or at room temp overnight and ice just before serving.

          Wait a minute. Are you saying, if you brewed hot tea, left it out to cool overnight on the counter, it would be what exactly? How is "definitely not safe"? Not safe for what? For consumption? If so, how and why is it not safe "for consumption"

          1. re: ipsedixit

            because room temp unsweetened brewed tea is a good medium for coliform growth, and other potentially dangerous bacterial contamination. that's why restaurants are required to toss house-brewed iced tea (unless it's kept chilled at safe temps) daily and continue with full immersion sanitizing rinses of brewing equipment and dispensers, including especially the spigots. i'm aware that folks in their homes are loosy goosy about food safety issues, but imo when there are guests involved. . . don't serve the chicken that's been sitting out for 6 hrs at room temp, either, y' know?

            the op could brew the tea the day before and hope for the best. . . she could also do the cold brewing method suggested by BenBen below, if she has fridge space. i will suggest a 3rd option, since it sounds like she's strapped for both time and fridge space--she could make an iced tea concentrate well in advance of the event: measure 1 1/4 cup loose tea leaves, brew with 8 cups cold water as for hot tea. refrigerate tea concentrate. to serve, 1 part concentrate to 2 parts water over ice. so this concentrate would make 3 8-cup pitchers w/o ice. make it a week in advance, whatever.

            1. re: soupkitten

              Never had a problem with leaving tea out at room temp for 10-12 hours.

              1. re: ipsedixit

                My question would be what are the alternatives? If we brew a huge thing of tea, what do you suggest we do? Keep adding ice all day long, put it in the fridge, What temp should we be maintaining? How long CAN it sit on a counter top and what are the indications that it's GOING bad?

                1. re: rjaffeux

                  Brew a large batch of the iced tea concentrate as described on this thread. Serve part diluted with water and added ice. Empty old warm batch and Refill with concentrate and more ice/water as needed. Should always be cool, taste like it has a slight chill to it.

                  There are no indications it is going bad. As long as it is cool to the touch/taste you're fine.

      2. If you add a large can of frozen lemonade to a large pitcher of tea then pour into glasses with ice cubes in them, you will cover all bases at once: lemon, sugar, and ice(d). Can't you make the tea just a couple of hours before you need it so it would sit out only long enough to cool to room temperature? You wouldn't refrigerate anyway when it is boiling hot.

        5 Replies
        1. re: Querencia

          I have no idea what is not safe about tea? What can happen to it over night? It's just that I have so much to do the morning of the party - I want to do as much as possible in advance. I am not happy with the idea of pouring boiling water into a glass pitcher - am thinking of using a large pot - stainless steel. I don't want to put the lemonade in because not everyone likes sweet iced tea. But I guess I can do it in the morning - let it cool and then add the ice when I pour it into the pitchers. So how about if I make a large quantity of strong tea in a pot - let it cool and then put it into the pitchers with lots of ice? Can I do that first thing in the morning and then serve it at three??? I am going to have a pitcher of simple syrup for those who like it sweet - maybe I'll use some of the mint simple syrup I am making for the mint juleps. Ands of course a big bowl of limes - I live in lime, not lemon country

          1. re: Mariana in Baja

            It will mold overnight. we have a restaurant dispenser in our office and one of the admins makes fresh tea every day. Well, one day she was out and I got a big glass of tea from what sat there overnight. Mold tastes like raspberry tuna in case you're wondering.

            1. re: achtungpv

              It'll only mold overnight if you live in the subtropics or some really humid, warm environment.

              I've left tea overnight with no spoilage issue -- tea was more bitter, but it was not moldy.

              I've also left iced tea overnight at our restaurant in those big ice tea dispensers, and it never got moldy. Of course, our restaurant was generally quite cool at night.

              Still, unless the environment is so conducive to spontaneous combustion of spores, I just don't see the danger of leaving tea out overnight.

              Go ahead, call me silly ...

              1. re: ipsedixit

                I don't think you're silly, ipse, but I don't like to take risks with low-acid foods/bevs. I feel the same about rice. Bacteria growth is a concern the less acidic stuff is. You make your informed choices and I'll make mine! :)

                1. re: ipsedixit

                  You have a restaurant? What is it? Where is it?

          2. If you have any fridge space at all for ice tea (important not to let it sit out at room temp, as folks have mentioned) the easiest way to make it is to cold-brew it in the fridge -- just put your tea bags into cold water in your pitcher, stick it in the fridge, and let it sit (an hour minimum, overnight is ok). No extra ice is needed till you serve it.

            In addition to being very simple, an added bonus is that the tea you make this way is very bright and clear, not cloudy/murky like other methods sometimes get.

            2 Replies
            1. re: benbenberi

              Perfect - that's what I'll do, the overnight fridge idea - but should I make it stronger than usual - I am using bags not loose tea. And yes, I do live in a humid contract -southern Baja.

              And thanks so much everyone.

              1. re: Mariana in Baja

                Make it at normal strength - the only dilution it will get is after it's served out over ice, if the person doesn't drink it fast. (I usually use 4 normal teabags for a 2-quart pitcher.)

            2. Easiest way to make in quantity is to brew a strong concentrated base the day before, chill and store overnight in the fridge. Then the next day, you can make up pitchers as needed by diluting the tea with cold water and ice and serving. If you use the gallon jugs of filtered water you can brew in a large soup or stock pot, cool and pour back into the gallon jugs to store in the fridge. Or if you are running out of fridge space, on ice in a cooler. Coolers are the unsung heros of large gatherings, especially if you are looking to keep something at fridge temp and not freezer temps. If space is at a preminum, get some cheapo styrofoam disposables and see if the local food bank, a church or hospice, or charity can't use them when you are done - if you haven't any room to store them.

              Yes, refrigerating does matter for both food safety and taste reasons.

              Bring the pot of fresh water to a full rolling boil, turn off the heat and add tea bags immediately. Stir well, let sit for 4-5 minutes then remove the bags. Letting tea steep much longer won't necessarily procude stronger tea, just more bitter tea. Same thing for squeezing the bags, just use a clothespin to pin them to the side of the pot until they've given their all and toss.

              You can, of course, use loose tea and it's wonderful however, you need to remove the leaves after steeping and the tea is probably too hot to manage in a large 10-16 gallon stock pot. I mean, pouring just off the boil hot tea into a filter & funnel just doesn't seem like a wise idea. So even if you use loose tea, put it in cheesecloth to facilitate taking the tea out without messing about with straining gallons of scalding hot water.

              Earl Gray is wonderful iced, as is Irish breakfast. Lousianne makes a very good family size bag that's ideal for brewed tea. Your guests will enjoy the "house wine of the south." If you are going to prepare sweet tea and unsweetened, then while the tea is warm, but not truly hot is the time to add sugar. It's warm enough the sugar will dissolve nicely but not so hot that you won't get a good idea of how sweet the tea actually is. The beatuy of this method is that you can really control the strength of your final tea so that it is just right. Offer sweet tea with mint along with the juleps and your guests will love you! let us know how the party goes.

              4 Replies
              1. re: aggiecat

                Thanks so much for all the great ideas I am going to go with the over night in the fridge with the bags in cold water - then I am assuming it will be okay to take it out a couple of hours before - actually then I can put it in one of the coolers with ice. I'm also going to make extra simple syrup with mint that I am making for the juleps and have that available for the tea as well. The tea bags I am using are from the Empress Hotel in Victoria - Afternoon Tea - pretty good stuff but I agree, Earl Gray does make a lovely iced tea. I will report back after the party - I honestly don't expect many people to really want the mint juleps but it feels necessary. Now pray my satellite TV doesn't go out!!

                1. re: Mariana in Baja

                  Thanks everyone - the party was a great success. My response to the mint julep question got moved to the spirits board. I can report that the iced tea over night in the fridge worked fine - I put five bags in with two quarts of cold water - and yes, I put some mint in the simple syrup. I have to report that the mint juleps went before the iced tea - go figure!! I am also going to post a hugely simple apple salad that was a big hit as well.

                  1. re: Mariana in Baja

                    I'm glad your party worked out fine. As for me and tea, I don't want tea that's been made very long. I want it to hit those ice cubes fresh. I've ordered iced tea in places before and been brought soured tea from it setting around too long. The smell of it is enough to make you sick.

                    1. re: MellieMag

                      I Know this is way late but this is how we make iced tea.10 tea bags 2qts cold water.bring it to almost a boil Remove from heat & let steep for 3 mins.squeeze and remove tea bags.Pour into pitcher and cool to room temp.before refrigarating.This helps prevent clouding.