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The Perfect Iced Tea

Black tea is the classic foundation for iced tea, but try experimenting with blended and flavored teas, green teas, and herbals. Here are two methods for making sure your iced tea is perfect every time. When you brew iced tea in the traditional manner, with hot water, the tea will often become cloudy when chilled. If this happens, add a little boiling water to the chilled tea and give it a stir. If you want your chilled tea to be crystal clear, use the cold-water method. For iced tea to be the same strength from start to finish, use ice cubes made from leftover tea.

Hot-water method

In a saucepan, bring 2 cups of the cold water to a boil. Remove from the heat and add the tea leaves. Stir, cover, and let steep for 5 minutes. Stir and strain the mixture through a fine sieve to remove the tea leaves. (For crystal-clear tea, strain a second time through filter paper-the kind used to make drip coffee.) Pour the strained tea into a pitcher containing the remaining 2 cups of cold water. Stir, and pour into tall glasses filled with ice cubes. Sweeten with Sugar Syrup if desired.

Cold-water method

Fill a large glass container with the tea and cold water. Stir well and chill overnight.If you used loose tea, strain the mixture through a fine sieve to remove the tea leaves. (For crystal-clear tea, strain a second time through filter paper-the kind used to make drip coffee.) Refrigerate until serving time. Stir, and pour into tall glasses filled with ice cubes. Sweeten with Sugar Syrup if desired.

Sugar syrup: In a small saucepan, combine 2 cups water and 2 cups sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat. Simmer until clear, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. Store indefinitely in a covered container in the refrigerator. Use in iced tea according to taste.

Lemon sugar syrup: Follow the recipe for Sugar Syrup, stirring in the zest of 3 small lemons, peeled in strips, after the mixture reaches a boil. Proceed as directed, straining and discarding the zest after the liquid has cooled.