Now that you know how to brew tea like you were a native of the Caucasus mountains and everywhere in between, let’s turn it into some tasty homemade iced tea. Which is an American concept, by the way – people don’t have it that way back in Azerbaijan. But since we are the home of the Driftless-Transcaucasian fusion, we are free to blend the traditions of various lands as we please.
It’s very simple. All you need to do is grab a large vessel, pour some of the cold (or hot, or whichever temperature it happens to be) black tea concentrate on the bottom of your vessel of choice, top it off with boiling water, and add enough sugar to taste (I use white sugar).
Then take one or two lemons, juice them, and add everything to the sweetened tea – juice, pulp, and squeezed lemon halves – although I recommend placing a fine-mesh strainer b/w the tea and the lemon juice as you pour it in to catch the seeds. The seeds are the only thing you probably don’t want in there. Expect the tea to lighten in color somewhat.
Let it cool, then cover and stick it in the fridge to chill and to allow the lemons to release some of their pleasant bitterness into the drink. Personally, I love this slight touch of lemony bitterness in both my lemonade and my ice-tea, which will be especially pronounced the following day.
Note that, like everything in my life, there’s no ice in my ice-tea. Back in the Old Country, adding ice to drinks was very unusual, despite the fact that summer temperatures topped 100 F on a regular basis. You see, back home and also in Central Asia you cool off by drinking hot tea and sweating, which, as you know, brings down the body temperature. Which makes sense, since the original nomadic tribes were not in a habit of using freezers, and had no ice available on hand to deal with the heat. As far as I can remember, there was no ice commonly available in the Soviet Union either, so, to this day, I can’t stand any ice in my drinks. But no one’s telling you that can’t add some to yours if you want to.
In a not very obvious way, this was inspired by an ice-tea recipe from Tom Hudgens, a former Deep Springs student and cook and the author of The Commonsense Kitchen: 500 Recipes + Lessons for a Hand-Crafted Life (originally The Deep Springs Cookbook), to be released on July 14, 2010.