ChewsWise Blog

ChewsWise Blog

Ice Tea for 6 Cents a Glass, Low-Carbon Too

Making Ice Tea

Did you know the cost of tea in a bottle of ice tea amounts to a few pennies  -- even while the bottle can run above $2 retail? The biggest cost of the product is the bottle itself.

Manufacturing the bottle also consumes more energy than shipping, and if you think about it, you're shipping around flavored water. Take away the bottle, make the tea at home, avoid boiled water and this is what you have: low-carbon ice tea that costs pennies even if you use the highest quality tea.

So what's the recipe?

  • 3 tablespoons of loose tea
  • 2-quarts tap water (I filter it) at room temperature.
  • sprig of mint (optional) 
  • syrup (here's a good recipe) or honey (optional) 

1. Put the tea in the container. The exact amount depends upon the kind of tea you use and can vary a lot so experiment, but I've found about 1-1/2 tablespoons per quart is a good starting point. Don't worry if it gets too dark, since it can be thinned out later with more water.
2. Fill the jug with tap water and stir.
3. Let the tea sit 6-8 hours on your kitchen counter.
4. Strain out the tea and put the tea jug in the refrigerator. Add mint if you like.
5. Sweeten with syrup or honey when you pour the tea into a glass with ice. I find it easier to sweeten by the glass, since preferences vary. 

I buy high quality loose teas from Silver Tips Tea, which has a wholesale operation called Eco-Prima that supplies many brands you already know. (They had nothing to do with this post). I've had success with Assam (Organic/Fair Trade)  Makaibari green and Darjeeling tea (O/FT) , Ceylon Kenilworth black tea,  Guranse Estate Nepal (O), which has a nice smokey flavor, and a classic, Moroccan mint. Japanese hojicha, a roasted green tea which I get from relatives in Tokyo, is also delicious. You can find it in Asian markets. It is very smooth and drinks well without any sweetener.

Why not use boiled water? I've found room temperature water makes a less acidic tea, though I've also seen recipes where the tea is steeped overnight in the refrigerator. One note on green teas -- they can be astringent so choose a mellow one like the Makaibari green. Also go easy on the sweeteners. A little goes a long way.

I buy tea in half-pound quantities. For an Assam-Ceylon blend, I use about 1/4 ounce (3 tablespoons) in about 80 ounces of water, which costs about 31 cents. For a 16-ounce glass, it comes out to about 6 cents per glass. The sweetener probably adds a penny. With prices that low, I see no reason to resort to mass market tea bags. Use the good stuff. 
- Samuel Fromartz