My position on craft loose leaf teas is quite clear, I wholeheartedly believe we’re going to start seeing plenty of interesting, high-quality loose leaf teas relatively soon. As I said before, a lot of loose leaf tea companies should be taking advice from the fantastic craft beer breweries that have been creating great beverages out of unique ingredients and marketing their brand accordingly. I realized while the loose leaf business can learn something from the craft breweries, a new generation of iced teas can be created from home beer brewing techniques.
It’s becoming more and more popular for folks to brew a batch of beer at home using common ingredients, and often times part of that process is filling muslin bags with things like fruits and spices to add flavor to the brew. Honey is a common ingredient to add to beer during this process as well, which has an obvious crossover in homebrew tea. I drink my hot tea without a sweetener, but I do like my iced tea with a touch of honey. Nothing would make me happier than sourcing my own raw honey locally and adding it to a homebrew batch of iced oolong with a muslin bag of fruits, vegetables, or spices. Certain ingredients would need to steep in the tea longer than others, so multiple bags could be used in a single batch of iced tea. This is where iced tea has a fun and creative advantage over a hot cup of loose leaf. You wouldn’t go through the process of multiple muslin steep bags for a single cup of hot tea, but you would (or, at least I would) for a gallon or more of quality iced tea. Or, if you’re in the retail market, it’s impossible to ship a loose leaf tea that has ingredients that need to be taken out at different times during the infusion (unless you have overly detailed (read: confusing) steep instructions or show up at every customer’s house to make it for them).
I’m still having a blast creating new hot tea blends, so I doubt I’ll be creating a batch of homebrew iced tea for a while (not to mention it is still very cold in New York) but as soon as I do I’ll share every step of the process here and I’ll add plenty of pictures! If you’ve made iced tea in an interesting way, or know of any recipes please feel free to share in the comments. I should also mention I have indeed tried many store bought iced teas and they’re usually too sweet for me. I do enjoy Ito En’s Teas’ Tea products, Adagio’s bottled iced teas, as well as Harney and Sons bottled teas.