A couple weeks ago I wrote a post about this year’s Lenten Carbon Fast. In it, I made the statement:
In Lydia’s Flexitarian Kitchen we’ll be paying heed to the things we can do to be better stewards of our bodies and our world.
So now I’d like to follow up and let you know of one small change we made. It involves a glass of iced tea, of all things.
There’s always some waste in a kitchen. Most of the food scraps can be composted, but there’s a lot of packaging that gets thrown away. Given the amount of Gold Peak Iced Tea that was consumed in our house the empty 59 ounce plastic bottles made up a large percentage of the waste we produced.
Gold Peak was a preferred brand because they sold an unsweetened variety, but after Coca Cola changed the formulation, it tended to taste off to me. When I came across a Pinterest tip for making iced tea, I knew I’d found a good place to make a significant, albeit small, change.
There’s something about unsweetened restaurant style iced tea. I’ve tried for years to replicate the taste, but something was always missing. I tried switching brands, toyed with the number of bags I used and was never impressed with the results. I finally gave up, assuming there was something about the water. Imagine my surprise to find out the “trick” was to add a ¼ tsp of baking soda per gallon of iced tea. It really helps improve the flavor.
In addition, I found this 1.25 gallon slim container that fits perfectly in my refrigerator (you’ll probably find it at one of the big box stores).
Here’s the method, adapted from Perfect Iced Tea at Craving Comfort
- Heat 1 quart water to boiling.
- Prepare a mixing bowl to steep the tea. If the mixing bowl has a handle and pour spout, it will be easier to pour the concentrated tea into another container.
- Place ¼ tsp of baking soda and four family sized tea bags (use however many tea bags needed to make the tea the way your family prefers it). Pour the boiling water over top of the tea bags, being careful to avoid splatters and spills.
- Let it steep for 15 minutes, and then add the desired amount of sugar and stir until dissolved. The original method calls for 1 ½ cups per gallon. (I’ve been compromising with the others in my household and adding a ½ cup.)
- While waiting for the tea to steep, put 3 quarts of water into whatever container you’ll use to serve the tea. I like the slimline beverage container mentioned earlier because there’s a wide opening at the top.
- After steeping, remove and discard the tea bags and mix the concentrate with the rest of the water.
- Add ice and lemon if desired and enjoy!
In the month since we started this, I believe we’ve “saved” about 25 bottles(!) Given the amount of iced tea consumed around here the container has already been paid for many times over. (At $2.00 per 59 ounce bottle, it works out to $4.34 per gallon for iced tea that used to be real brewed tea but is now “water, natural flavor, tea, caramel color and phosphoric acid”). Plus, since I’m making it at home, I can use decaffeinated tea (I like Luzianne or Red Rose family sized bags for this). I carry it to work “old school” in a quart jar.
I’ll bet there are as many ways to make iced tea as there are women in the world. What’s your favorite?