Do you know that 85% of tea consumed in America in 2014 is iced? I didn’t, not until I came across that number on the Tea Face Sheet-2014 from the Tea Association of the U.S.A. Inc.
Trending Iced Tea
But I wasn’t very surprised either with the matcha bubble tea uptick in consumption of iced-tea in the U.S., when I think of even the traditional sugar-free, hot tea culture in Taiwan has started to lose its edge in the 1990s to the surge of sugary iced tea (notably bubble tea) that has been very popular among youngsters. It’s little wonder then in the U.S., where culturally most people prefer cold drinks over hot ones, consumption of iced tea continues to rise.
Honestly, several times I was tempting to buy a bottle of iced tea when I browsed a growing selection of iced teas sitting in a cooler near a checkout counter. But the conscious side of my brain always stopped me, out of three concerns – freshness, added sugar and the source and quality of dry tea used as a raw material for mass production.
And it never occurred to me, not until a few years ago, that I could turn my home-brew hot gourmet tea into iced tea. For decades, I was so bounded by my own conviction that quality loose-leaf Taiwanese tea should only be drunk hot in order to capture its fresh taste and aroma. But I finally gave it a try after living years of hot summer in the East Bay and also hoping to slowly wean my family from mass-market sugary drinks. After experiments, surprisingly, iced Oolong tea can still hold on to its fresh taste and the tea has quickly become a staple drink to go with or after a heavy meal.
Interested in how to prepare the tea efficiently and with quality? Below is the foolproof way that I have been using to prepare 12-cups (measured in a coffee maker carafe) gourmet iced tea. Give it a try if you want to add an alternative to your choice of healthy drinks.
Formula: French Press + Filtered Water + Quality Loose-leaf Tea
First, invest in a 1-liter 34-ounce French press coffee-maker. I discovered 15 years ago a French press of that size was a perfect match to brew my Taiwanese loose-leaf teas in volumes good enough for the night and have stuck with it ever since. And the french press is still going strong after traveling with me across three continents.
In my experience, a French press has a few advantages over a traditional Chinese clay teapot or a porcelain teapot or a modern-looking glass teapot with a strainer infuser, for three reasons:
It provides way much more room for each whole tea leave to expand freely without being squeezed during the brewing process. This releases more aroma and taste that may otherwise be contained.
Its translucent glass lets you glance over the steeping progress instantly without having to stop work on hand before the tea is done. I found myself need to be more attentive by opening the lid more than once to check progress when using a clay or porcelain pot.