Sitting in 82 degree heat in Los Angeles at this time of year, my thoughts turn to iced tea. Not just any iced tea, mind you, but one that is carbonated at home. Sparkling, effervescent tea is certainly not a new idea, but when you control all of the variables: the water; tea quality; ratio of tea to water; method and duration of infusion; sweetening – if any; you will have a unique and remarkable beverage, superior to any you might purchase in the beverage aisle of your local market.
For this homemade version, I rule out the use of any smoky or fruit-flavored teas. Instead, clean, bright flavored green teas from Japan and black teas from India or Sri Lanka are my go-to selections for the cold and bubbly treatment. To accomplish the drink, you will need a table-top carbonator – Soda Stream makes one – or a metal siphon – Isi brand is reliable.
And mercifully for most of the rest of the country, summer is not too far off, a time when chilled and carbonated tea will be an alluring ingredient in a summer cocktail – perhaps vodka based. Sweetened with fresh fruit syrups (berries, stone fruit and melons come to mind), carbonated green or black tea would be a hit at summer barbecues all season long. Here’s the simple method:
Brew the tea of your choice slightly stronger than you would for hot consumption (I allow 4 grams tea per 6 ounces – 170 grams – of water). Allow to cool to room temperature and chill. Once cold, the tea can then be carbonated using a Soda Stream or siphon. Store the carbonated tea in a bottle with a good seal and refrigerate until ready to use. Top off a bit of vodka on the rocks (the rocks can be made from the same tea, if you prefer), swirl in some fruit syrup until lightly sweetened, garnish with a wedge of fruit. You’re ready to party.
If the weather around you doesn’t seem appropriate to concocting an iced sparkling drink, then bookmark this post for early summer. Although given the extreme weather we have been experiencing, who knows what the summer will bring? Whatever the climate in your locale, drinking tea in any form is a pleasure – global warming or not.