Wednesday, August 4, 2010

cold brewed tea or Be Gone, Servant of Juice!

This is a great discovery. The only thing that sorta irritates me is that it takes about 8 hours to fully steep. Otherwise, cold brewed tea is like THE most exciting drink in my life right now.

I really love iced tea, but I really hate the price of Crystal Light and the complete lack of flavour choice (I only like the peach tea and it only comes in singles -- WTF, Kraft?!) and I also like the President's Choice brand of powdered juice, but only green tea pomegranate which again only comes in singles (am I the only one who's boggled by this completely unnecessary, totally environmentally unfriendly trend? This is one of those trends you'd think people would want to start phasing out by now. And what irritates me even more is that I have to buy them because the flavours I like aren't available in a larger, jug format. So I'm unwillingly part of the problem!)

So anyway (small tangent), I started to look into brewing tea and cooling it. Wouldn't that be the same thing? Isn't that just like all the others, except without a million other chemicals? Nice and pure and still cold and refreshing? Yes. New mission.

The first time I tried this, I boiled some water, got my tea bags ready, and picked out this cute antique glass jug. The second I poured the boiling hot water in I thought, cold water...wait a minute. This isn't going to end well...and sure enough, I ended up with boiling water at my feet and a destroyed antique jug (sob! It had yellow roses on it! Yellow! Roses!)

It took a while before I tried again. This time I was smarter and used one of those glass coffee presses. Everything seemed good. I boiled, I steeped, I chilled.

The taste...well...there was a definite tea taste, but it had a terribly bitter aftertaste. I added more sugar. Nope. Still bitter. I was super disappointed. I thought maybe my tea bag to water ratio was off, so I tried again. And again. And no matter what flavour or how many bags I used or didn't use, the bitter taste was there and it wasn't going away.

Then I found this recipe. Then I got this glass pitcher and discovered it holds exactly 6 cups of water.

It was meant to be!

rooibos red tea
before & after

So I open up my tea packets and measure out my water and stick the jug in the fridge for 8 hours. Any longer and the tea gets bitter. I don't really like being on the tea's schedule, but it makes a huge difference towards taste, so I go along with it. The flavour is brighter. You can really taste the tea. There's no weird bitter aftertaste, just the shining flavour of whatever tea you've chosen.

When I first did this, I decided to use up the old tea bags I've had sitting around for years. I don't drink a lot of hot tea, I really don't, so it made more sense to experiment with those dusty old boxes in the back of my pantry that mom gave me despite my, "but I don't drink as much hot tea as you do!" protests. 

Therefore, I've tried this method with chamomile and plain green tea and assorted flavoured green tea, all completely delicious. So delicious, in fact, I kinda wandered into the tea aisle at Superstore just to "see" (because I still have 3 boxes of random teas to use) and ended up getting a wee bit excited by all the neat flavours they had. I decided to try President's Choice rooibos red tea which I've never had hot let alone cold. I also picked up chocolatey chai herbal tea.

Surprisingly, the chai is really good. It smells like chocolate and tastes like chai with a chocolatey undertone. I wouldn't have expected that to taste so good cold. The rooibos? Well, let's just say it's drinkable, but I'm not a fan. I also tried a weird licorice flavoured tea (another mom donation) which had a smokey almost meaty aftertaste to it. I don't think I'll be able to get through the rest of that box.

chocolatey chai

After I started writing this, I got curious about the economics, so I've painstakingly gone through the math. (And math is hard. And Idle Husband wasn't around to help me.) This isn't more economical than buying Crystal Light or what-have-you. It's about the same, and it's probably pretty equal taking into account the fact that I have to drink Crystal Light watered down. The recommended amount of water makes their juice taste too sugary and syrupy for me (I add three extra cups of water to what they recommend). I suppose it would depend on what brand of tea you went with. Maybe just going with the cheapo boring run-of-the-mill black tea would be better. I don't know, I don't have those stats. But you know what? It's a really nice change from the two flavours I've been drinking every day for...ever, really. And I think I'll be doing this for a long time. Besides, I really want to try some of the other nifty flavours President's Choice has! (And once I find a favourite, I'll try to find it cheaper!)

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