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TIP OF THE DAY: How To Keep Home-Brewed Iced Tea Clear

Iced Tea

Cloudy Iced Tea

Top: Iced tea should be clear (photo courtesy Mighty Leaf Tea. Bottom: Black tea can cloud when you add juice or other flavorings, like this peach iced tea. Herbal teas can also be cloudy. But we got cloudy tea from plain English Breakfast (photo courtesy Peet’s).

 

Since the weather got warmer, we’ve been consuming four or five bottles of iced tea per day. Given our desire to keep plastic out of the landfill—not to mention the $2 a bottle (including tax), we began home-brewing our iced tea years ago. We pour it into re-purposed beverage bottles, or keep it in a pitcher.

One thing we noticed this season is that our tea, which is clear when we put the bottles into the fridge, is cloudy when they’ve chilled down. It doesn’t taste as “clear,” either.

This was top-quality English Breakfast from Rishi Tea. So we put on our science hat to discover why.

We made hot tea, which was perfectly clear; thus, not a problem with the tea or our kettle. We used a glass pitcher instead of a plastic one to brew. We placed the pitcher in the fridge without pouring into serving-size bottles. We tried distilled water, from which the minerals are removed.

The result: still cloudy.

So we asked our wine editor, Kris Prasad—who happens to be a Ph.D chemist—how to solve our problem. Here’s his response:
 
WHAT MAKES ICED TEA CLOUDY?

  • Generally, higher-quality tea leaves contain more tannins, which are the source of the cloudiness.
  • When tea steeps, the tannins dissolve into the boiling water.
  • When the brewed tea goes into the fridge, the cold can cause tannins to separate out. This causes the cloudiness and adds what we perceived as “nano-grit” to the mouthfeel.
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    So that’s the “why.” Now, what can you do about it?
     
    HOW TO AVOID CLOUDY ICED TEA

  • Do not add ice to hot tea or stick the pitcher in the fridge. Let the tea cool to room temperature—not “slightly warm”—first.
  • With a cloudy pitcher of iced tea, you can add boiling water to re-dissolve the tannins (1 cup of boiling water per quart of tea. This should clear up the cloudiness, but will also dilute the tea. If you anticipate the problem, make a stronger brew.
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  • If you’re new to the area, check to see if you have hard or soft water. Hard water can make iced tea cloudy. Get a water filter or buy distilled water.
  • If all else fails, add 1/8 teaspoon of baking soda per quart of tea.
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    ICED TEA VS. ICE TEA

    Properly, the drink is iced tea—tea that has been chilled with ice. It is spelled this way in primers on editing and by the line editors* of quality publications.

    But, as more and more Americans care less and less about the rules of English, ice tea—tea with added ice—has been making inroads, even among some editors.

    There is precedent: Ice cream and ice water were originally “iced cream” and “iced water.” We presume that editors in that era were equally chagrinned.

     
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    *A line editor is responsible for reviewing each sentence for consistency, grammar, punctuation, spelling and word usage prior to publication. Here’s more.
     
      

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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Pure Leaf Tea House Collection

    Pure Leaf Lemon Honeysuckle Tea

    Pure Leaf Fuji Apple Ginger

    The New Pure Leaf Teahouse Collection from Pepsico.

     

    Pepsico has made iced tea more elegant with its new line of Pure Leaf bottled teas, the Tea House Collection. Debuting in select markets nationwide, the teas are certified USDA Organic—and so delicious, we can’t get enough of them!

    A super-premium line of the finest organic tea leaves brewed with fruits and herbs, the debut collection has three elegantly layered flavors:

  • Fuji Apple & Ginger green tea
  • Sicilian Lemon & Honeysuckle black tea
  • Wild Blackberry & Sage black tea
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    In signature glass bottles, tall and squarish, both the glass and the metal cap are 100% recyclable. The sugar is restrained—almost 50% less than most sweetened bottled teas—allowing the sophisticated flavors to shine through. Each 14-ounce bottle from the Tea House Collection has just 90 calories.

    We “stretched” our bottles by drinking the teas from ice-filled rocks glasses. Some colleagues—we won’t name names—added shots of gin and vodka to create “Tea-tinis.”
     
    ABOUT PURE LEAF

    There are 8 flavors of sweetened Pure Leaf teas, 2 diet flavors and 3 unsweetened flavors with zero calories—all in 18.5-ounce plastic bottles (you can find the full collection here). The brand recently introduced Unsweetened Black Tea and Unsweetened Green Tea.
     
    The Unsweeted Green Tea is really special, with a delightful undertone of honeysuckle (there’s no honeysuckle in it; the flavor comes from the particular tea leaves). Who needs sweetener?

    Good job, Pure Leaf!

    Here’s a store locator.

     

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Homemade Ginger Ale

    March 13th is National Ginger Ale Day, time to enjoy a refreshing glass of ginger ale.

    You can buy a commercial brand, of course; but for something special, you can purchase ginger syrup and add it to club soda. If you like a hot and spice sizzle, pick up some ginger beer syrup.

    The syrups can also be used to flavor barbecue sauce, cocktails, desserts, dips, dressings, glazes, iced tea and other foods and beverages.

    Or, make your own ginger ale from scratch, using fresh ginger root simmered in water. The flavor is so much more vibrant: It sizzles.

    And, since St. Patrick’s Day is this week, you can color it green!

    We adapted this recipe from Epicurious. A squeeze of lime juice, not an ingredient in conventional ginger ale, adds terrific flavor complexity.

    The recipe makes about 1-1/2 cups syrup, enough for 4 to 6 drinks. Prep time is 10 minutes, total time including chilling is 3 hours.
     
    RECIPE: HOMEMADE GINGER ALE

    Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 cups (7 ounces) chopped peeled ginger
  • 2 cups water
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 quart club soda or selter (the difference), chilled
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
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    Preparation

    1. MAKE the syrup: Over a low simmer, cook the ginger and water in a small saucepan, partially covered, for 45 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the ginger steep, fully covered, for 20 minutes.

    2. STRAIN the mixture into a bowl, pressing on the ginger to extract all liquid; then discard the ginger. Return the liquid to the saucepan, add the sugar and salt, and cook over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar has dissolved.

    3. CHILL the syrup in a covered jar until cold. To make ginger ale, mix 1/4 cup of ginger syrup with 3/4 cup club soda and 1-1/2 teaspoons lime juice. Taste and adjust the proportions as desired. Use up the syrup within one week.
     
    THE HISTORY OF GINGER ALE

    First came ginger beer, which originated in England in the 1800s. It was brewed like beer from ginger, sugar, water, lemon juice and ginger beer plant, a cluster of microorganisms like kombucha. It had an alcohol content of 11%. Today’s supermarket beers average 4%-6% and craft beers average 5.9%, although some styles are brewed with ABVs in excess of 11%).

    The first non-alcoholic ginger ale was created in Ireland in 1851. But modern-style ginger ale was born in 1907 when a Canadian, John McLaughlin, invented what eventually became Canada Dry Ginger Ale.

       

    Homemade Ginger Ale

    Ginger Syrup

    Fresh Ginger Root

    Top: Homemade ginger ale (photo courtesy Malibu Rum). Center: Ginger syrup. Mixit with club soda to make ginger ale (photo The Ginger People). Bottom: Use fresh ginger root to make ginger syrup from scratch (photo Jan Schone | SXC).

     
    It was available in two versions: dry ginger ale, the style of modern ginger ale—pale color, mellow ginger flavor—and golden ginger ale, with a much deeper ginger flavor and golden color.

    Canada Dry ginger ale was introduced in 1907; the “dry” style prevails today. It gained favor around the time of Prohibition (1920-1933).

    Today, the golden style—deeper color and flavor—survives as non-alcoholic ginger beer. While modern ginger beers do have a touch of alcohol from the fermentation, they are categorized as non-alcoholic drinks in the U.S. because their alcohol content is less than 0.5% (this meets FDA requirements for a non-alcoholic beverage).

     

    Old Ginger Ale Bottle

    Launched in 1907, Canada Dry is the “father” of modern ginger ale. This bottle is from the 1940s. See more old soda bottles at Printmag.com.

     

    Ginger ale was the most popular soft drink in the U.S. until the 1930s, when it was surpassed by Coca-Cola (first was bottled for distribution in 1899).
     
    Modern Ginger Ale Vs. Modern Ginger Beer

    The main differences between today’s ginger ale and ginger beer are the sweetness and spiciness.

    Ginger beer is less sweet than ginger ale, and has a sizzling ginger kick. The spicier ginger beer provides a bite to cocktails and food pairings (any spicy or highly-seasoned foods, as well as foods with sweet glazes and sauces like barbecue or glazed ham). The lighter ginger ale provides more sweetness and effervescence as a soft drink or cocktail mixer.

    Production processes differ. Ginger beer is brewed (naturally fermented), a reason for the higher price. Ginger ale is a soft drink made from flavored carbonated water.

    Historically, both were fermented. Today only ginger beer is fermented, a reason for the higher price.

  • The natural fermentation of ginger beer yields less carbonation.
  • Ginger beer can have a beer-like head when poured into a glass.
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    Now, the exception: Some artisan soft drink makers, including Reed’s Original Ginger Brew in the U.S. and Fentinman’s in England, ferment their soft drinks for more flavor and complexity.

    Will this become a trend? Stay tuned?

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Cold-Pressed Juice

    “What is cold-pressed juice,” our aunt asked us recently, “and should I be drinking it instead of Tropicana?”

    While we don’t focus on health foods, we’ll give the topic a bit of attention.

    Cold-pressed juicing has existed for decades among health-food devotées, and generated attention in the 1990s as more sophisticated home juicers came onto the market.

    But it has become much more visible over the last few years as some celebrities (Gwyneth, Kim et al) have publicized their juice fasts for dieting and/or health.

    This engendered the current juicing fad, made more visible by the proliferation of shops and delivery services selling pricey cold-pressed juice. (By the same token, buying produce at retail for pressing juice at home is not inexpensive.)
     
    SHOULD YOU SWITCH TO COLD-PRESSED JUICE?

    If you’re a juice drinker, or are thinking about it, know that there is little scientific evidence to support the claim that cold-pressed juice contains more nutrients than pasteurized juices, or those you could hand-squeeze at home. However, when the juice is unfiltered and cloudy, it indicates a higher level of fiber.

    What is known is that any juice begins to lose nutrients immediately after squeezing, and should consumed quickly if you want to capture every iota of nutrition. Those juices made commercially under high pressure processing (HPP) hold their nutrients longer. Hard-core juicers argue that cold-pressed is better than HPP. Here’s the argument.
     
    PRESSING JUICE AT HOME

    There are two main categories of home juicers:

  • Centrifugal juicers (top photo) have an upright design; the produce food is pushed into a rapidly spinning mesh chamber with sharp teeth on the bottom (like a blender). The teeth shred the produce into a pulp, and the centrifugal motion pulls the juice out of the pulp and through the mesh filter.
  • Masticating juicers (second photo) are horizontal in design and higher in price. Produce is pushed into the top of the tube, where it is crushed and squeezed. Because of the slower crushing and squeezing action, these juicers are better at processing leafy greens and wheatgrass, a limitation of centrifugal juicers. The process extracts more juice in general.
  • Commercially cold-pressed juice (HPP) uses a hydraulic press, crushing the produce under extremely high pressure with cold water to counter the heat generated by the process (heat destroys nutrients; the water does not mix with the juice). This gives the juice a refrigerated shelf life of 30 days or so, compared to only 2 to 4 days for those extracted without high pressure.
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    OUR AFFORDABLE SOLUTION

    Before we had ever heard the term “cold-pressed juice,” we were hooked on a Red Jacket Orchards, a family juice brand produced in New York’s Finger Lakes region that’s delicious, nutritious, unfiltered and affordable.

    They’ve been selling cold-pressed apple juices and blends for 50 years. We’re not a committed juicer; we just love the refreshing flavor as a glass of juice or a cocktail mixer.

    We like every flavor, but are hooked on Joe’s Half & Half.

    The company sells it online; use the store locator to find a retailer near you. Online, three 32-ounce bottles are $31, including shipping.

     

    Centrifugal Juicer

    Masticating Juicer

    Cold Pressed Juice

    Red Jacket Joe's Half & Half

    Top: The Kuvings NJ-9500U Centrifugal Juice Extractor, $149 on Amazon.com. Second: A masticating juicer from Omega, $299.99 at Amazon.com. Third: Cold-pressed juice at Trader Joe’s. Bottom: Red Jacket, a brand that’s been quietly selling cold-pressed juice for 50 years.

     
    That’s a lot more affordable than the 16-ounce bottle of cold-pressed juice at the juice shop on the corner!

      

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    ST. PATRICK’S DAY RECIPES: Irish Spuds & Green Dip With Green Beer

    Green Beer & Fries

    Green Food Color

    St. Pat’s snack: wedge fries, green dip and a green beer. You can color any light-hued food green. Photos courtesy McCormick.

     

    For St. Patrick’s Day you’ll be able to buy green-tinted bagels, beer, donuts, and more; but you can also plan to color your own foods.

    Chocolate chip cookies? Mashed potatoes? Milk? Oatmeal? Pancakes? With a bottle of green food color you can have a blast/

    Here are three recipes from McCormick, maker of that green food color, to add to the collection: Irish Spuds With Green Ranch Dip, Green Beer and Leprechaun Lemonade.

    For St. Patrick’s Day fun, color your food green.

    Here, roasted potato wedges and crudites are dipped in a green-tinted ranch dressing and served with green beer or “Leprechaun Lemonade.”

     
    RECIPE: IRISH SPUDS WITH GREEN RANCH DIP

    Prep time is 10 minutes, cook time is 30 minutes.

    Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • 2 pounds russet* baking potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon dried parsley or other green herb
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup ranch dressing†
  • 1/4 teaspoon green food color (20 to 25 drops)
  • Crudités: 2-3 varieties of raw vegetables
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    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 450°F. Cut the potatoes into 3-1/2-inch wedges and place them in a large bowl. Add the oil and toss to coat well.

    2. MIX the chili powder, optional parsley and salt. Sprinkle over the potatoes and toss to coat evenly. Arrange the potatoes in a single layer in foil-lined 15x10x1-inch baking pan.

    3. BAKE for 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender and golden brown. While the potatoes are baking, slice the crudités.

    4. MIX the ranch dressing and food color in medium bowl until well blended. Serve it as a dip with the potato wedges and crudités.
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    *Idaho is a brand name for russet potatoes grown in Idaho.
    †If you want to make your own dressing, here’s a ranch dressing recipe.

     
    RECIPE: GREEN BEER

    Ingredients Per 12-Ounce Beer

  • 1 can (12 ounces) light-colored beer (Pale Ale, Pilsner or other Pale Lager, Wheat Beer)
  • 5 to 6 drops green food color
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    Preparation

    1. PLACE the food color in a glass. Add the beer and stir gently until evenly tinted.

     

    RECIPE: LEPRECHAUN LEMONADE

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 4 cups lemonade‡
  • 1/2 teaspoon raspberry extract
  • 15 drops green food color
  • Ice cubes
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    Preparation

    1. MIX all ingredients in a pitcher. Pour into ice-filled glasses.
     
    Variations

  • For Strawberry Leprechaun Lemonade, use replace the raspberry extract with strawberry extract.
  • For an adult version, stir in 1/2 cup Limoncello or a clear spirit (cachaça, gin, rum, tequila, vodka); or 1/4 cup of each.
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    Green Lemonade Recipe

    Leprechaun Lemonade can be turned into a cocktail with Limoncello and/or a clear spirit. Photo courtesy McCormick.

     
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    ‡Here’s a recipe for homemade lemonade.

      

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