Tea at room temperature?

s3rial ones3rial one Registered User
edited April 2007 in Help / Advice Forum
I absolutely love iced tea. Love it. The problem is that it's a pain in the ass to keep making; it feels like I'm always trying to brew a new batch, usually a couple times a day.

So, while I was at the store picking up some odds and ends today, I picked up a 3-gallon dispenser, designed for coffee and whatnot. I figured I could use this to make a huge batch of tea, kind of like sun tea, without constantly having to make more.

Here's the question I have, though: how long will tea keep at room temperature? I like my tea and all, and I can certainly tell the cheap stuff from the good stuff, but I'm not a connoisseur by any stretch of the imagination. So if the taste is a bit degraded, meh, life goes on. It's usually kind of watered down by the time I finish drinking it (from the ice). I just don't want to be drinking something that's spoiled.

I mean, if I can really just fill this thing up with water, throw a tea ball in there, and then let it sit for a while, and then pour it over ice when I want it, that'd be ideal.

s3rial one on


  • HewnHewn Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    This guy has a lot to say about brewing ice tea:

    Seems he's running the tea through a process that lets him keep it for days at room temp.

    Just found another website with something interesting to say:
    Restaurant iced tea is a notorious source of coliform bacteria. Our lab students have done studies which have shown that the tap water supplies at local restaurants are OK; homemade, freshly-brewed tea is OK; and freshly-brewed, restaurant iced tea is OK, but restaurant iced tea that has been sitting at room temperature for any length of time (as well as a sample of home-brewed tea that was added to a “dirty” pitcher) can have as many as millions of coliform bacteria per 100 mL of tea. In talking with students who work at some of these establishments, a repeating picture begins to emerge. In most cases, the tea is stored at room temperature in large, plastic-lined urns. Whenever the supply in an urn is getting low, the typical procedure is to make more tea and add this new, lukewarm tea to what is already there. In places that are open on a 24-hr basis, this goes on continually. In places that close for a few hours each night, any remaining tea is drained into a plastic pitcher, placed in the refrigerator overnight, then poured back into the urn (which, at most received a cursory rinse the night before) in the morning. Seldomly are the storage urns thoroughly cleaned and sterilized, and students have reported that when they have had to clean one of these urns, the insides are typically coated with slime (= bacterial growth). Typically the restaurants with the cleanest tea have taken the following steps:

    * tea is stored in a stainless steel-lined container
    * tea is quickly chilled after brewing and held at a cool temperature
    * tea is made in smaller, more frequent batches
    * the container used to store the tea is THOROUGHLY scrubbed clean and sterilized before EACH new batch of tea is added
    * new tea is NEVER added to or mixed with “old” tea
    * the urn is thoroughly sterilized at the end of each work day and left clean and dry overnight
    * tea is not saved overnight for use the next day
    * tea is not allowed to sit in the urns for more than a few hours before it is considered to be “expired”

    Many other restaurants have “solved” this problem by switching to instant or other pre-packaged tea, thereby sacrificing flavor for convenience rather than taking the time to keep equipment clean. Consider that at home, most people typically make a pitcher of tea at a time, keep it refrigerated until use, then thoroughly wash the pitcher before adding a new batch of tea to it. If you want iced tea at a restaurant, order a cup of hot tea and a cup of ice, and make it yourself.

    My grandma normally kept a gallon pitcher around a day when she brewed it. Nobody died.

    Hewn on
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  • SamuelSamuel Registered User
    edited April 2007
    From my experience, the tea itself should probably keep for quite a few days, but it's the lemon juice that is usually put in iced tea that means it won't really last longer than about a day.

    And make sure you do use near-boiling water to brew the tea, not just like, tap water or whatever. I've seen that mistake a lot, and it definitely does impact the flavour, and the hotter water is likely to be more hygienic if it's going to be left out a while anyway.

    While I'm here, I might as well suggest that you try and find some ceylon dimbula for REALLY tasty iced tea, or, if you want to try something a bit different, sencha works very well for iced green tea.

    Samuel on
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