When it's scorching outside and all you want is a nice, refreshing glass of iced tea to quench your thirst, there's no bigger bummer than taking a sip and realizing you've made a bad batch.
And for a recipe that's as basic as it is, there's still quite a bit of room for error. Steep for too long and the drink will become tannic and bitter. Only add sugar when the tea is still hot otherwise it won't dissolve as quickly and evenly. Make sure to use filtered water.
To help you avoid the pitfalls, we rounded up 10 favorite iced tea tips, including some advice from chef Steve Petusevsky who has shared his recipe for Basic (But Perfect) Iced Tea.
1. Tea type. While the tea you choose to use depends on your personal preference, be aware that darker teas will yield a stronger flavor.
2. No loose ends. Chef Steve recommends tying the tea bags together with a long piece of string so that you don't have to do any fishing to remove them.
3. Pay attention to water quality. Be sure to use clean, filtered water to make your batch. "The final product will always be better because of what you put in," says Chef Steve. And on that note, don't overlook the ice you're using to serve the tea with — poor quality ice can make a good brew go bad in no time.
4. Don't just use any old container. For best results, make and store the tea in a glass container such as a pitcher or Mason jar. Plastics absorb and release flavors, and metal will (not surprisingly) give the drink a metallic taste.
5. The baking soda theory. According to Chef Steve, many Southern cooks insist that adding a pinch of baking soda to the hot water as the tea bags are added will result in a superior tea.