Iced tea is a generic term for any tea that is consumed chilled. Usually iced tea is served with a slice of a citrus fruit, such as lemon or orange. Sometimes the fruit is infused into the tea to make flavored iced tea.
Iced tea can be made from several varieties of tea. The most common varieties used are black tea and oolong tea. Green tea can also be used, but is not as common as their flavor does not last as long, although one variety of green tea - Hyson tea - can be used.
Usually sugar is added to iced tea, as chilled tea tends to taste bitter and astringent. This is because the tea is brewed for longer.
Preparing iced tea
Iced tea is made in larger volumes than usual tea. Usually, 4-6 cups are made per container of iced tea. This is around 5 teabags, or the equivalent amount if loose leaves are used.
To make iced tea, the tea should be brewed first, then poured into a glass or glazed pitcher that has been designed to cope with heat. Glass or glazed pitchers not designed for this purpose are liable to cracking.
Plastic and metal pitchers can also be used to hold ice tea, but are not recommended as they can impart unwanted flavors to the tea.
Another way of making iced tea is to place ice in the pitcher, and then pour hot tea inside. This is a quicker way of cooling the tea. However, the taste of the tea may be diluted due to the larger volume of water involved.
The tea should be allowed to cool completely while in the pitcher. After cooling, the container should be refrigerated.
Serving iced tea
Iced tea should be served fresh - that is, it should be served within a day of making. Iced tea that has been stored for longer may taste flat, and also serves as a breeding ground for bacteria.
Iced tea should also be served completely chilled, which may take about 4-5 hours of refrigeration.
Iced tea can be served with ice, and sugar can be added to the tea.