on the cheap and sleazy side (www.cheapandsleazy.net)

By G.D. Warner

Life's a Peach!

The Cheap and Sleazy Peach Iced Tea

 

Okay, so this has nothing to do with court reporting ... but if you read my Cheap and Sleazy Mocha piece, you might recall that I promised to write about something called "The Cheap and Sleazy Peach Iced Tea."

As you might have noticed, it's summer ... and so (with apoligies to my friends living under British rule who find the very idea of iced tea to be downright disgusting), looks like I'd best get to it --!

-o0o-

"Iced tea. Let me kick my credentials ...."

Well, okay, so the man's called Ice-T ... and I don't have any credentials ... unless you consider the fact that I've been drinking iced tea in one form or another since I was 14.

I like my iced tea strong, cold, and sweet ... you know, Virginia style ... with about an inch of sugar on the bottom of the glass (I've since adjusted the recipe, so not to worry ...)! Especially on a hot summer day. Or night. Or morning, if need be ...!

A few years ago, I switched from Lipton (with a pinch of instant coffee) to various types of peach tea: Ginger Peach, something called Choice Organic Mango Ceylon tea (this last thanks to a Christmas gift from my on-again, off-again boss a couple years back) and the occasional bottled tea.

Jones Organic Red Peach Tea

Jones Organic Red Peach Tea

"Glen, That's Quite the Chemistry Experiment You're Doing, There!"

I was preparing my iced tea when my roomie's boyfriend said that to me. I guess he was right, in a way. As you will see, making this iced tea as I make it does resemble a chemistry experiment! Feel free to throw your head back and laugh maniacally ("Mu-hu-hu-ha-ha-ha!!") if someone's watching you a bit too closely!

The good thing is at the end of the experiment, the drink won't make you turn into Mr. or Ms. Hyde ... but it will *definitely* cool you off and ease that thirst!

... but first, let's talk ingredients. You're probably going to have to make a trip to a couple stores for some of this stuff.

Iced Tea:  The Chemistry Project

Iced Tea: The Chemistry Project

Yes, I know ... the ice is a "Duh --!" ... but have you ever wanted an ice cold drink on a hot day, only to find that someone has used the last ice cube and put the ice cube tray back in the freezer, completely empty?! Dosen't that just ... irk you no end?!

There's more that could be said on this ... like a harangue about those same people that fill the ice cube tray so that the water runs over all of the cubicles, and freezes into one solid mass ... or how I once bought a package of plastic (as in, plastic bags) ice cube trays, filled one up, and tucked it carefully away in the downstairs freezer for that inevitable day when I'd come home and find the ice cube tray empty (which happened, of course) ... but I'll spare you.

Also, you might use pure maple syrup or Agave Nectar as a sweetner, if the taste of plain ol' Stevia just doesn't work for you ....

Pure Maple Syrup

Pure Maple Syrup

Well. Back to our thrilling narrative.

Since you have those bottled iced teas, and you will need both of those bottles to be empty, here's how I prepare my (cheap and sleazy) peach iced tea using bottled teas.

Open the Xylitol, and put about half a teaspoon into the bottom of a glass that holds roughly two cups of liquid.

Warning!!

Xylitol, in addition to being a natural sweetener, also functions as a natural laxative. Use too much, and ... well, you know what laxatives do, so I'll spare you that particular explanation. If you want your tea sweeter, add in an eighth of a teaspoonful of Stevia (the bottle should have an appropriately sized spoon in it).

Warning!!!

On the Veritas radio show, Dr. Betty Martini revealed that Xylitol has been linked to brain damage. If you have any, STOP USING IT! Here in the Cheap and Sleazy Labs, I have pretty much switched entirely to Agave nectar, and, in fact, have been drinking the Acai Berry iced tea of late. Going to have to find a new recipe for the Cheap and Sleazy Peach Iced Tea using the Agave nectar! One of these days ....

Using Maple Syrup or Agave Nectar ...?

I usually pour enough to cover the bottom of the glass (so do this BEFORE you add in the peach nectar!). Ensure that you don't forget that you're pouring in the syrup vice the nectar. Even I believe that a quarter cup of maple syrup would be a bit too sweet!

Anyway ....

Take the can of Peach Nectar and shake it ... then pour in about a quarter of a cup.

Stir this mixture ... then drop in a few ice cubes (the hotter it is outside, the more cubes you add!).

Select just one ice cube as your "target." Take the bottled tea, shake it up, and pour it (slowly, now --!) onto that one ice cube. If the ice cube melts. select another and continue pouring until the glass is full (or close enough thereto).

One Cube to Cool Them All

"... And One Cube to Cool Them All."

Pouring the tea onto the one ice cube will cool your tea that much quicker.

Let it sit for a few minutes to *really* cool.

Now, for the hard part: Drink it!

If the bottle of tea is empty, clean it out, and pour the remaining peach nectar into it, and put it in the refrigerator for later.

If you have a FSO (that's "Fairly Significant Other"), and you're feeling generous, use the other bottle and fix your FSO one as well -- but don't toss that bottle! You'll need it for the next buncha steps.

The Tea Bag Steps

This is the part where I show you how I make iced tea with a tea bag ... but before I do that, a quick story from my Navy days (Hey --! I heard that groan ...!).

Once, during my agonizing days onboard the USS CARL VINSON, I treated myself to dinner at a local Sizzler. I (naturally) wanted some iced tea, but I noticed the iced tea that was there was full of ice, and quite weak-looking ... but I ordered it anyway.

The manager of that particular store took my order, and when she bought my iced tea, I tasted it, and asked for a little coffee to add *some* flavor to it (yeah, it's a bit on the different side ... but the iced tea may as well have been just iced water!). She brought the coffee, I poured it into the tea, added some sugar, and stirred it up.

It wasn't great, but it got the job done.

I wrote a comment on the comment card, which basically explained how iced tea should be made strong, and the ice should be added when it is served. The ice will melt, and weaken the tea, and result in a drink with flavor (or words to that effect), instead of the weak, flavorless tea they were serving. I then placed the comment card in the box they had for them, and left.

I came back two weeks later, and the same manager again took my order ... and after she did, she thanked me for the comment card I'd left the last time, saying she had forwarded the comments up the chain to the corporate headquarters.

I noticed the iced tea this time was ice-free, and quite dark ...! It was also quite good -- especially compared to my previous visit.

I'm thinking that I should check one of the local Sizzlers (the above-mentioned incident took place in Alameda, CA) to see if that note I wrote all those years ago has filtered up here to the Pacific North Wet ...!

Maybe next weekend ....

Update (20JAN09)

I *finally* made it down to our "local" Sizzlers ... and you'll be pleased to know, that they DO NOT have ice in their iced tea before serving it! Score one for ol' Cheap and Sleazy!

Hot Stuff

Remember that bottle of Snapple (or whatever you used) you made for your FSO? Wash that bottle out, rinse it good, and fill it with cold water (bottled is better, but tap is okay -- depending on where you live, of course. I'll spare you the details about my days in Homestead, FL, where the ice cubes from my refrigerator's ice maker were green ("I would not, could not, in that house ...")).

(*ahem*)

Put it in the microwave (I'm sure I don't need to tell you to leave the lid off, right?) for about three minutes. While it's, um, cooking, open the box of tea bags and take out a couple. If you're using the Ginger Peach teabags from Republic of Tea, the next step for you will be easy: Drop the teabags into the bottle.

Republic of Tea's Ginger Peach tea

Republic of Tea's Ginger Peach tea

If you're using regular teabags, you'll need to ensure the string is kept out of the bottle by closing the lid and holding the end of the string so it doesn't fall into the bottle.

Of course, if the string does fall in, it's not a matter of life and death or anything (except, perhaps, the risk of tetanus from the staple ...); it's just a bit harder to get the teabags out!

I usually do this preparation work the night before, and let the bottle sit all night long. That way, it's nice and strong when I decide to drink it the next day.

"Dude -- Microwaves rot your brain, so I don't use one. What should I do?"

Um ... well, while I don't believe that microwave ovens rot your brain, you are right, in one respect -- a microwave oven can be modified to mess with someone's brain:

Modified microwave oven

Microwave Oven Modified into a Weapon

... but, if you're nervous about using a microwave to make your iced tea, do it the old fashioned way: Boil some water in a pot.

Of course, when you are pouring the hot water out of the pot into the bottle as described herein, you'll need to put a metal utensil of some kind (a butter knife will do) into the bottle, and ensure that the hot water hits the knife as you're pouring it in ... otherwise, you end up with a broken bottle, and hot water going everywhere ... including your bare feet!

So don't forget that knife!

The next day, proceed as you did when you were making the bottled tea, and you *should* end up with something like this:

Finished Product!  Ahhhh ....

The Finished Product! Ahhh ....

Of course, the stuff in the bottom of the glass isn't sugar; it's the peach nectar! Make sure you stir it up good before drinking. If you're using a straw, you'll suck all the peach nectar out!

Also, if you followed my (cheap and sleazy) recipe correctly, the sweetener would be Stevia and Xylitol. These substances dissolve pretty quickly, so it's doubtful you will see them for very long.

Warning ....!

As the tea is hot when made, I usually just leave it sitting on a counter somewhere, instead of putting it in the refrigerator ... but then again, I drink the tea the next day, so they don't hang around long.

I taught my girlfriend to make tea like this (though she prefers hers unsweetened ...! (*shudder*).

As she's not a real tea drinker, she may let the tea sit on the counter for more than one day ... which is a bad thing to do!!!

"Dude -- What Happened?!?"

Well ... if you're not squeamish, the tea had rather unpleasant looking blobs growing in it! Good thing I looked inside before I poured it into the glass ....

Variations on a Theme

If you're feeling adventurous, you can mix two different flavors of tea ... like the Ginger Peach teabag and the Mango Ceylon ... or Ginger Peach and Passion Fruit ....

If you're really feeling adventurous, you could try adding some clear (or peach flavored, even!) soda into the mix; with some practice, you can have carbonated iced tea that you won't want to share with your friends or relatives!

Update: The Carbonation Conundrum

Of late, I have been making a drink called "Eleven-Up," which consists of 1/4 slice of a lemon, another 1/4 slice of lime, 1/8th of a teaspoon of Stevia, ~12 ounces of sparkling water, and some ice.

During the preparation of this cheap (and zero calorie) soda substitute, I discovered that there is a difference between the various brands of sparkling water out there.

I would normally use Arrowhead Sparkling Water, which one of my local stores often has for sale for $.99.

Unfortunately, I found they were out of my usual brand, so I tried S. Pellegrinno's Sparkling Natural Mineral Water ... and discovered that it wasn't as ... well, "sparkly" as I was used to ... so I would stick with Arrowhead.

Anyway, to make yourself some sparkling iced tea, try just adding the juice, the sweetener, and maybe a bit of regular water (like a quarter of a cup) to your bottle or whatever you're making this in, then when the tea has ... well, oozed throughout your sweetener and flavorings, add in enough sparkling water to cover everything ... and eureka! Sparkling iced tea!

Sometimes I find myself with some leftover bottled tea (about a quarter of a bottle) and a full bottle of tea made with a teabag. What do I do? Why, mix 'em together, of course ...!

Feel a cold coming on? Go out (or send somebody out) and get some Reed's Ginger Candy.

Reed's Ginger Candy

Reed's Ginger Candy

Unwrap one of these candies, make yourself a cup of Ginger Peach tea, and drop the ginger candy into the tea while it's still steeping. Add a pinch of cayenne pepper, honey, (or sugar, Stevia, or Xylitol, though honey is preferred), a slice of lemon, and (just to be on the safe side) a one inch slice of ginger root -- preferably grated. Drink as much as you wish of the mixture (the more, the better), and sleep.

You should feel fine the next day.

Well, there you have it: Proof positive that life's a peach!

Finished Product!  Ahhhh ....

Ahhh ....

-o0o-

Update (20JAN09)

As you might guess, I have continued in the arduous task of researching this subject ... and I have some new stuff for you!!

First up, there's the impossible-to-find-except-in-the-summer Celestial Seasonings Cool Brew Tropical Fruit Iced Tea:

Cool Brew Tropical Fruit Iced Tea

Celestial Seasonings Cool Brew Tropical Fruit Iced Tea

This is GOOD STUFF!! The page I linked to will tell you where you can get it if you enter your ZIP code ... the place I can get it is about 50 miles away.

Next, I found something called Celestial Seasonings Country Peach Passion:

Celestial Seasonings Country Peach Passion

Another tasty tea; if you can find this in a nearby store, buy two boxes!

Another tea I found that is the new favorite around the Cheap and Sleazy Labs is Stash Acai Berry Herbal Tea:

Acai Berry Tea

Stash Acai Berry Herbal Tea

This stuff is so good, we have four boxes!

By the way, it's pronounced "U-SIGH-EE"

Even better, for those of you who don't like to use microwave ovens (and to those of you who ignored the "Use a knife!" warning I gave earlier), you can plop these tea bags into a bottle of cold water, and it will brew up perfectly!

I haven't tried this with peach nectar as yet ... but I did try it with maple syrup. Since I am telling you about this tea, you can probably guess that it was VERY GOOD!!!

Go get some!

Update (11JUL09)

I gotta say ... I really like the sweet iced tea from McDonalds -- especially on a hot summer day!

Sure, I know it's just Lipton ... but it's tea I don't have to make myself, and (if the person behind the counter doesn't screw up your order) tastes pretty good ...!

Eventually, I'll figure out how to make this stuff at home. I'm pretty sure they use some sort of liquid sugar, vice the granulated version you can get at the store ... and if I can figure out how to make a liquid version of my Stevia and Xylitol mix, that would be great ...!

When I do, I'll post the recipe here.

Interestingly, I had a li'l 4-year-old whipper-snapper visiting the other day ... and he begged me for a sip of my McDonalds Sweet Iced Tea ...! I (reluctantly) gave him a sip ... and when he was done ("Dude --! Don't bogart my McDonalds Sweet Iced Tea!"), he actually said, "Ahhhh ...!"

Maybe he's seen the commercials ...?

16FEB14 Update

As promised, I am letting everybody know that I think I've figured out how to replicate McDonald's Sweet Iced Tea recipe ...!

I know I promised to post the recipe here, but I got to writing the other day, and it just grew and grew -- until it's now become a full-fledged article in itself ... and you can read it here.

I even discovered a new vessel to make it in -- because you just can't make one glass of this stuff!

Well, technically, you can, but ... well. Let's just say I make more than one glass at a time, and here's my new serving vessel:

Wine Jug -- er, Iced Tea Jug

Wine Iced Tea Jug

Enjoy!

-o0o-