Simple iced tea

Oxidized tea
Neptune
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Fri Jan 14, 2022 9:20 am

Hello!

I'm a coffee geek / home roaster and a home brewer. I like flavor diversity. I have always had respect for the tea world, but haven't really pulled the trigger on investigating it thoroughly. It's something I'm starting to dabble in a bit more. Baby steps.

In the meantime, I'd like to make iced tea for my wife and could use some suggestions. It's her go-to drink. Not herbal, not flavored, not sweetened, just straight-up black iced tea. While it might viewed as heresy among the tea elite here, one of her favorites is Pure Leaf - yep, the stuff in the plastic bottle. So that's the target I'm intending on replacing for a number of reasons: reduction of plastic waste, knowing what's in it, being in control of the process so I can tweak the flavors, etc.

Besides the addition of citric acid for that tang, I'm intending on starting with our unfiltered well water (tastes good) and an organic loose leaf black tea- initially something as middle-of-the-road as possible. As time goes on, I would like to try variations, but I want to cover the basics first.

What might you steer me towards for a good tea to start with? Maybe Ceylon?

Thank you for your time.
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rdl
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Fri Jan 14, 2022 3:31 pm

I think you cannot go wrong with the choice of a Ceylon tea, the better the tea the better iced tea, but I don't use anything very expensive. Kenilworth is nice. I did want to give you two possibilities for the future. Jasmine iced tea is really delicious, as long as it isn't the cheap stuff, and Thai Nguyen tea from Vietnam is fantastic iced, with a very distinct taste.
I'm not thinking about cool drinks for a few more months but I'll be curious what you decide on.
Neptune
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Fri Jan 14, 2022 5:06 pm

Thank you kindly for your response! I will indeed start with a Ceylon and go from there. I do appreciate the other suggestions. I love Jasmine tea and I'm curious about how that would turn out iced (doubt my wife would like it but who knows, possibly!).

I realize that asking for suggestions on making a straightforward iced tea is akin to asking a home brewer to make Coors Light, but what the heck. Should be fun for my wife and I both to tinker with.
Andrew S
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Fri Jan 14, 2022 6:42 pm

@Neptune: welcome to the forum. You should feel free to experiment with iced tea, since you and your wife might find something that you did not think you'd enjoy.

Perhaps asking for suggestions on tea bags for iced tea would be like asking how to make Coors Light, whereas you're rather looking at how to make something a little bit more interesting and special than that.

I'm not much of an iced tea drinker (nor much of a black / red tea drinker), so others here would know better (and I'm conscious that I'm not answering your question directly), but when it is oppressively hot and humid down here, I sometimes put white tea (a bai mu dan style) into a French press coffee plunger with room temperature water, put that into the fridge, and let it steep overnight.

Perhaps a Darjeeling could be interesting to try if you want something a bit 'lighter', fruitier or more refreshing than a typical Ceylon style of black tea. You might need to add less tang that way as well.

Andrew
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Baisao
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Fri Jan 14, 2022 10:05 pm

Welcome to the forum!

I think you are already on the money for where to start. I'll add my two cents on iced tea.

I'm from the South and like iced tea in the summers because the bitterness gives a feeling of coolness. It's a cool feeling like a G&T or a plate of sliced cucumbers. I like iced tea without sugar or lemon. I prefer it with the "good ice" so I can chew the tea flavored ice afterwards. Most Americans will instantly know what the "good ice" is. It's a near perfect beverage for hot, humid summers. Stimulating, thirst beating, and cooling.

To me it is a perfectly valid tea even if the leaf quality is unexceptional.

One thing I like to do in the summer is to cold steep spent gaoshan overnight. Talk about cooling! I simply take the gaoshan leaves from the end of a tea session, place them in a jug of water, and let them steep in the fridge overnight. The leaves are usually good for two rounds of cold steeping. Best cold tea ever.
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Bok
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Fri Jan 14, 2022 10:28 pm

@Baisao lol I did not even know what “bad ice” was until I visited the US for the first time… :lol:

I took chlorine free water for granted before that. Even coke can’t cover up that disgusting taste.

I second Gaoshan for cold/iced tea, although I use fresh leaves just chuck in the fridge for a day or two. To speed it up one can brew half volume with hot water, let sit, add ambient water and put in the fridge or just add the equivalent in pure ice cubes.

Baozhong works a treat as well. Even teas I’d normally avoid like the pest in their hot state, aka Sun Mon Lake Hongcha n.18 become something drinkable iced.
Neptune
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Sat Jan 15, 2022 6:38 am

Thank you all for the welcome and the suggestions!

I will be starting with a Ceylon for the iced tea experiments, and I'll report back.

But man... these words! It's all so new to me, it's exciting.

Thai Nguyen
Bai mu dan style
Gaoshan
Baozhong

Yeah, I feel a deep dive coming on. Found myself waking up at 3am and reading about tea regions. I think 2022 will be The Year of Tea for me.

Thanks again.
Neptune
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Mon Jan 17, 2022 12:57 pm

I was planning on storing this iced tea in the fridge in growlers (a glass jug commonly used for transporting small quantities of beer), which are 64oz.

In a metal pot, I did 20g loose-leaf Ceylon, 64oz 205F/96C unfiltered well water, 5 minute steep stirring occasionally, filtered through a pristine pour-through stainless coffee filter into a ceramic-lined dutch oven (didn't want the acid interacting with metal), let it cool slightly, then added 1/2 teaspoon of food-grade citric acid.

Disgusting. :lol: Way too sour. And not a good sour, like something with lemon juice.

In an effort to save the experiment, I worked up another batch using 5g Ceylon (all I had left), 15g black Yunnan (the only thing remaining that I was willing to devote to this), same water temperature and steep time, just didn't add any more citric acid in order to dilute the original batch.

Let it cool and funneled it into two growlers and put it in the fridge overnight.

Poured some this morning and it looked like muddy water! Very hazy; can't see through it. I've read that this is the result of too high a brewing temperature.

But... I have to say, I think this is pretty spot on flavor-wise. The appearance isn't that important; what the brewing temperature might be doing to the flavor would be of more interest to me.

I'm a curious person, so I'm wanting to do some side-by-side comparisons in the future that would highlight the differences between:

* black teas
* steeping times with the same tea
* brewing temperatures with the same tea

In the meantime, I do feel like I've been bitten by the tea bug (leafhopper?) and have found myself looking for a gaiwan and watching Tea House Ghost videos on YouTube. And scouring this site of course. There is a lot to learn.

Cheers!
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Baisao
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Mon Jan 17, 2022 2:12 pm

@Neptune, that is great progress! What was your temperature?

I think that sun tea became popular because the heat is lower than the traditional way of making large batches of tea for iced tea. It’s also the reason multiple posts above suggest cold steeping some teas in the refrigerator.

Universally, the higher the temperature the more unpleasant compounds are released from the tea leaves. This can result in and unpleasant kind of bitterness, astringency, sourness*, caffeine dump, etc. Better teas have fewer unpleasant compounds to release at high temps, nevertheless those compounds go into solution even if minutely with high quality teas.

Another thing to consider is if your source material is C. sinensis-assamica (‘India bush’) or C. sinensis-sinensis (‘China bush’). You’ll usually find teas divided along these lines. The exception being that teas from Yunnan may be either or another C. sp. entirely.

I have a strong preference for one over the other, but I’ll stop short of saying one is inferior to the other.

Generally speaking you’ll find India bush to be more: bitter, astringent, stimulating, malty, citrusy, needing additives.

Generally speaking you’ll find China bush to be more: floral, fruity, nutty, sweet, relaxing, not needing additives.

Teas like gaoshan and baozhong are China bush (even though they are Taiwanese). Ceylon is India bush. The Yunnan tea can be either or something else entirely.

What’s cool about this to me is that you can make all kinds of decisions about your blend and processing. If you want it less bitter, keep it below 180° or even lower. If you want to add a floral and spice flavor, you can add baozhong to your blend. Make a brew from a roasted Tieguanyin if you want a dark tea with black sugar and candies in the flavor.

You can get all kinds of flavors without having to add flowers and fruit to your tea.
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LeoFox
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Mon Jan 17, 2022 3:57 pm

Neptune
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Mon Jan 17, 2022 4:02 pm

Thanks for the info!

Water temperature was 205F/96C. Next time I'm going to try 180F and see how that improves the clarity and flavor. Have to stock back up on tea though, I'm out!

For my personal tasting adventure (non-iced) I'm going to be ordering some white, green, pu'er. I'm currently hung up though on studying gaiwan shapes, sizes, pros, cons, costs and vendors, and a host of other things. Currently I have nothing that allows me to enjoy tea to the extent it can be, so I'm starting from scratch there (no teaware).

For more iced tea experiments I'll be looking for some bulk Ceylon, but also the gaoshan, baozhong, and tieguanyin. This is gonna be fun.

I'd be happy to check out any vendors that might have all of this and more if anyone has recommendations or go-tos.
Neptune
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Mon Jan 17, 2022 4:03 pm

LeoFox wrote:
Mon Jan 17, 2022 3:57 pm
Might be an interesting read:

https://eco-cha.com/blogs/news/four-eas ... -heat-2021
Hey, thanks!
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LeoFox
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Mon Jan 17, 2022 4:04 pm

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LeoFox
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Mon Jan 17, 2022 4:06 pm

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Baisao
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Mon Jan 17, 2022 4:41 pm

Neptune wrote:
Mon Jan 17, 2022 4:02 pm
For my personal tasting adventure (non-iced) I'm going to be ordering some white, green, pu'er. I'm currently hung up though on studying gaiwan shapes, sizes, pros, cons, costs and vendors, and a host of other things. Currently I have nothing that allows me to enjoy tea to the extent it can be, so I'm starting from scratch there (no teaware).
You are very welcome. Tea is fun!

Some additional advice:

Don’t let gaiwans become a rabbit hole. Stick with simple white porcelain with a volume of 100ml or higher. There will be time to get into the effects of different porcelains later.

I’d also advise steering clear of anything Yixing for now. That’s a rabbit hole that will drain your bank account. A $100 teapot may seen expensive to you now but it may be sketchy at that low price point.

In addition to the gaiwan, you’ll probably want small cups (30-60ml) and a pitcher (chahai), also of porcelain.

Lastly, I’d recommend a good gram scale. Yup, you’ll look like a gangster with a scale and some leaves but it really helps with figuring things out and being consistent. For example, if you have problems with your tea session people will likely ask you for your parameters. It will be hard to help if we don’t know the weight of the tea, volume of water, and temperature of water.

Rest easy, eventually this becomes as intuitive as driving a car or walking. But for beginning it is best to have some measures.

HTH
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