Iced tea is a summer staple, and a great choice on boats when you really don’t want another soda or beer.
But how to make it without boiling water or putting something hot in the refrigerator?
Basically, when it’s over 100º F. outside, I don’t want to have heat from the stove or humidity from boiling water inside the boat. And the refrigerator is running almost nonstop, and I don’t want to overtax it by putting in a bottle of hot liquid as would happen with sun tea.
Cold-brewed tea is the perfect answer. Just add tea bags to a bottle of water, put it in the refrigerator, and let it brew as it chills. No heat or humidty in the boat and no load on the refrigerator beyond what any other stored drink would impose on it.
Quart or half-gallon bottles typically work best, but you can use any size that fits in your refrigerator. A leak-proof cap is about the only requirement.
Fill with water, leaving a good inch of air space at the top.
Put the tea bags inside, leaving the tags hanging outside. I use 1-1/2 tea bags per cup of water, or 12 regular size tea bags in a half gallon container. If you use familys-size tea bags, adjust the number accordingly.
NOTE: I like my tea fairly strong; if you prefer yours weaker, use fewer bags.
Screw the lid on tightly and place in the refrigerator until cold. By the time the water’s cold, it will have brewed and be “tea-flavored.”
I usually put a half gallon bottle in the refrigerator just before going to bed, and then we drink it the next afternoon. It’s always best to restock the refrigerator at night, so it can do the work of chilling things down during the coolest part of the day (read more about this and other ways to make your refrigerator more efficient here).
Just recently, I saw that Lipton’s (and probably some other brands) were selling special tea bags for cold brewed tea and bought a package to try. I really didn’t notice a difference in the finished product — despite saying that the tea would be fully brewed in 5 minutes of frequent dunking, it tasted more like colored water at that point. Left overnight, it brewed to a normal taste. Bottom line: the special cold brew tea bags aren’t necessary and really don’t add anything.
Variations: instead of just using “regular” (black) tea, try a mix of different teas. I usually use half black tea, and add whatever others I find: green tea, Constant Comment, lemongrass, and jamaica (hibiscus) are all great by themselves or mixed together.