Thursday, September 9, 2010

Adding some sparkle to everyday iced tea

It's already chilly in Chicago. This morning had a definite autumnal bite, and after walking the dog the flip-flops were put away for the season. So, drat, I meant to write about this while the weather was still a bit steamy ...

One of the things we encountered on our European travels early this summer was sparkling iced tea. In the vast majority of cafes we visited, when one of our companions, Richard, asked for iced tea, he was served a bottle of sparkling, usually a Lipton variety.

Richard, it's important to note, likes nearly all of his liquids to be as sparkling as his personality. At home, in fact, he possesses his own carbonation system, with which he adds bubbles to his drinking water. It's pretty marvelous: a faucet, a Brita filter and a SodaStream Penguin Water Carbonator — no more wasting money and glass buying Pellegrino or Perrier. Richard "penguinizes" everything he can, so when we returned home, of course (and at my urging), he tried penguinizing his own tea.

It's tricky and messy experimentation, as most liquids refuse the carbonation if they already have something else dissolved in them. Richard found it easier to brew the tea separately, and strongly, then add the sparkled water. Here's his conclusion:
  1. Prepare steeped tea, 3x strength; chill.
  2. Prepare simple syrup [Water and Sugar, 1:1]; chill.
  3. Place about 1T of syrup in a highball; add squeezed quarter of lemon wedge; fill 1/3 full with strong tea; and top with penguinated water.

As for buying it bottled, I still haven't located sparkling iced tea in any U.S. stores yet, though Lipton says varieties like this green tea with berry flavors is in stores (and was just launched last year). But given that it's just another bottled drink that's mostly high fructose corn syrup, I haven't looked that hard. Nestea and Lipton both have sparkling varieties throughout Germany and some of northern Europe.

p.s. Here's a great recipe for homemade sparkling tea with lemon, cucumber and mint!

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