“Instant” Iced Tea

We drink A LOT of iced tea around here, and not just in the summer.  Iced tea is, after all, the official drink of the South.  I’m not sure Southerners even know that you can actually drink plain ol’ water.  Anyway, I needed a way to generate lots of real, freshly-brewed, iced tea without staring at it on my counters for hours as it cooled.   Forget about “sun tea” – that always tastes weak to me, not to mention the fact that it eliminates one of iced tea’s charms:  the caffeine.  And forget about adding hot tea to ice in a glass – that always results in lukewarm, watered-down tea.

As an avid home canner I have a cupboard full of canning jars, and last summer I realized I could use my 2 quart jars to make perfect, ready-to-drink, Southerner-approved, iced tea.  These directions are for black tea.  If you are making white, green or herbal tea,  adjust the water temp and steeping time accordingly.

You will need:

  • a 2 qt canning jar (preferably with one of those highly useful plastic lids they sell for them), halfway filled with ice.
  • a 1 qt tea pot – I love my Le Creuset one!
  • 2 “family size” tea bags, or 4 regular size tea bags.  For an authentic Southern brew you need Luzianne brand tea.
  • 1 qt of boiling water – love my Krups electric kettle too.
The cast of characters

The cast of characters

Steep the tea in boiling water for 4-5 minutes.  Then place the jar with the ice in the sink (this is extremely important – if the jar should happen to break, you want that drama contained in the sink, not on the counter and especially not on you).  Carefully and slowly pour the tea over the ice.

Safety first:  place the jar in the sink and pour slowly

Safety first: place the jar in the sink and pour slowly over the ice.  Can I just say how proud I am of this shot?  It’s not easy accurately pouring boiling hot tea with your left hand while shooting with your right!

Now add any sweetener you like (or not) and stir the tea until all the ice dissolves.  If the jar is not full, simply add more ice or water.

stir till all the ice dissolves - here is where you can add any sweetener you like

stir till all the ice dissolves – here is where you can add any sweetener you like

Voila.  You now have 2 quarts of room temperature, freshly brewed ice tea, ready to go in the fridge (without heating up everything else in there) or in your glass (without getting all watered-down).  I store my ice teas right in these jars – they are plenty easy to pour from.  I bought all my 2 quart canning jars at Michaels (a craft store) and I am sure you can also buy them online.

One last word of caution:  don’t even think of trying this technique in a glass pitcher or any other kind of jar that is not made with tempered glass.  Canning jars are built to withstand high and low temperatures, and as long as they are not chipped, cracked or etched, they will be able to withstand this procedure.  And again, be safe and do this in the sink!

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