At home, I like to make my own drinks
And then there were the two major commercial brands for lemon tea: 維他 and 陽光 - I'm sure you would know these two brands if you are from Hong Kong. I don't know about you, but I've always preferred 維他. It has a much stronger taste of tea which I consider essential in a decent lemon tea. 陽光 just tasted like sweetened lemon water to me... In fact, for many years, I thought that Vita lemon tea (維他檸檬茶) with Calbee's Hot and Spicy crisps (熱浪薯片) were the best things one could possibly eat on earth.
The way I go about making iced lemon tea is a bit different from how it's usually made. Instead of making hot tea and adding lemon slices to it, I squeeze the lemon juice first, set it aside, and only add it when the tea is cold so that I don't kill the precious vitamin C in the lemon. On the other hand, there's a chemical compound in the rind of the lemon that requires heating for it to 'activate'. It's the compound that makes a hot lemon drink so effective for treating a cold or cough. By heating the rind and keeping the juice cool, you get the best of both worlds.
Boiling the lemon rind also imparts flavour. As any desserts maker would know, the real flavour of lemon comes from the rind, not the juice (which contributes acidity). Heating the rind releases the fragrant lemon oil from the yellow skin as well as the tanginess from the white part of the rind. I actually like to leave the lemon halves in the tea for a day so that there is plenty of time for the rind to infuse the tea. After a day, however, the bitterness (苦澀) of the rind starts to set in. If you're adverse to the slightest suggestion of bitterness, remove the rind sooner by all means.
This recipe makes a lot but I assure you it would be gone much sooner than you think!
These are the proportions that taste 'just right' to me - strong in tea and lemony flavours, but not overly acidic or sweet. Experiment with the proportions to suit your own tea/lemony/sour/sweetness preferences. Don't be alarmed by the amount of sugar though - it doesn't taste that sweet because of all the lemon juice. If you want to scale down the recipe, use one tea bag for 500ml of water.
4 litres of water
8 tea bags (I used Lipton, but any black tea would do)
1 large lemon
100g (1/2 cup) sugar (or a combination of sugar and other sweeteners like golden's syrup or honey)
1. Squeeze the juice from the lemon and set aside.
2. Bring the water to a boil with the squeezed lemon halves in a large pan.
3. When the water has reached a boil, throw in all the tea bags.
4. Turn off the heat, put the lid back on and let steep for ten minutes. If you left the tea bags in for longer it would taste too bitter.
5. Remove the tea bags. I use chopsticks.
7. Add the sugar and stir well to dissolve. Leave to cool completely before adding the lemon juice. Chill in the fridge.
8. Remove the lemons when the tea is cold or after a day, depending on how lemony you want it. Make sure you squeeze hard on the lemons to extract all their goodness!
|This is from a while ago - I used more lemons that time.|
Variation: Occasionally, instead of lemon, I make pineapple tea using the core of pineapple and pineapple juice instead. The tropical aromas of pineapple work beautifully in iced tea!
|Could you guess what this is?|