Home > Food, My Tiny House > Iced Tea Travails

Iced Tea Travails

Friends,

With the bombardment of my inbox and RSS feed of all the commentary  lamentations on the election of The Donald, I decided that I needed to think about something completely different – if for nothing else, then for the mental break! And I found my topic: Iced Tea!

For quite a while – at least 5 years – I’ve sworn (nearly) off of soft drinks. I may have had a coke or two when handed to me, and I know I’ve had Ginger Ale on a couple of flights. But other than that, I’ve consumed no soda and I don’t miss it.

It’s taken me awhile to settle down on what I’m drinking instead of soda. I used to buy a lot of juice. And I still drink a lot of milk. And water. But I don’t want to drink milk all the time, and I prefer to drink something with a bit of flavor (unlike water). I’ve now settled on iced tea, cold brewed at home.

Starting about – what? maybe two years ago? I occasionally made a pitcher of iced tea. And I found myself going more and more to that pitcher. Then always drinking plain iced tea from tea bags got a little old, so I started experimenting with different teas – better black teas, green teas and herbal teas. By about a year ago, I got things down to a regular rotation: 1 pitcher of a peach spiced black tea purchased from the bulk section of a local grocery and 1 pitcher of “something else” where I kept trying OTHER teas.

Since I started using loose teas, there has been one constant annoyance: Leaves (and sometimes other residue) in the glass I’m drinking! Here’s a picture of one of the containers I’ve been using to brew and serve:

Use is fairly straightforward – put the tea in the strainer, put the strainer in the pitcher, add water, brew in refrigerator for 12-24 hours, remove strainer to stop brewing.

But the holes in the strainer that allow water in and out are too big! Even after removing the spent tea leaves, there remains bit of tea in the pitcher – not the most enjoyable drink!

So I tried another system:

But it turns out this has two problems! The right hand picture above shows one of them. See the leaves? Trust me – it isn’t easy to clean! The other problem? There is no easy way of stopping the brew by removing the leaves short of pouring into something else, cleaning both pieces, then refilling. Given that PITA level, I’ve simply left the tea in the pitcher, never stopping the brew. And yes, it ends up REALLY strong — and often bitter.

Last week, I spied this tucked in a corner of a kitchen cabinet:

I’d forgotten I had this! It’s a Brew in Mug Tea Infuser. Which got me thinking … hmmm … I’ve got this wide mouth, quart size mason jar … I wonder if this fits? And … It does!

imag0115

Actually, it’s shown above in a half gallon wide mouthed mason jar, with the quart size one to the right, and a standard spice glass jar shown for size comparison.

So I tried it! I filled the mason jar to about 2 inches below the top, added the strainer with the proper amount of tea (roughly 1 teaspoon per 6 ounces of water), carefully topped off the water, put the lid on, then put it in the fridge – carefully as the water is now up to the very tip-top! 18 hours later, it was easy to remove the strainer and cap the mason jar with it’s standard top and ring, then stash in the refrigerator until I’m ready to transfer it into a pitcher. And the strainer was totes easy to clean!

imag0117

So why did I also put this into my “My Tiny House” category? I think I may have found a good way of consolidating my tea and coffee paraphernalia! IF I can use this to brew small batches of hot coffee (in a mug, not in a pitcher), then I won’t need separate apparatus for coffee and loose leaf tea! So here’s my plan:

  1. Try brewing a single cup of coffee later today. If it works  Overtaken by events — it works! then
  2. I’ll order I’ve ordered a second Brew in Mug Tea Infuser since I often make coffee while my iced tea is brewing.
  3. Once it arrives, I double check that multiple infusers nest for storage. It looks like they do, but I can’t be sure without another one to test. If it DOES nest (remember – tiny hose – storage is at an incredible premium!) then I’ll buy a 3rd one.

Wait. What? Why would I want three?!?

Simple: I’d like to be able to serve myself coffee, serve a guest hot tea, and do so while I’ve got a batch of iced tea still brewing!

I’ll let you know what happens!

Oh! I almost forgot an important note on the cost of tea!

One of my frustrations as I sampled different teas – getting it in a grocery store is expensive! $2-5/oz! And at the high end of that range is a Citrus Hibiscus tea I’ve come to love, but it costs $14/2-1/2 oz tin! Even my peach spiced black tea costs $2.20/oz in the bulk section of the grocery store.

So I Googled – long overdue – and found the Maya Tea Company. They sell peach spiced black tea, citrus hibiscus, and a bunch of other teas – most of which sound delicious. The best part? You can get them dirt cheap in bulk!

My first order from them was one pound (each) of their Peach Spiced and Citrus Hibiscus plus a quarter pound of Pomegranate Mojito Green. The 1 pound bags were only $20 – which works out to only $1.25/oz. Cheap! And now that I’ve brewed all three, Good too! And a bonus: it comes in resealable brown paper bags! Unfortunately, the bags are a laminate of brown paper and plastic, so they can’t be recycled, but it’s the most resource efficient packaging I’ve yet found for tea.

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