How is tea made in an iced tea maker?
You may know how to use an iced tea maker, but have you ever wondered how an iced tea maker works? No? Well, read on to find out exactly how a pitcher full of ice, a small tank full of water, and a basket filled with teabags combine to give you a delicious and refreshing glass of iced tea.
Step 1: Water in the reservoir heats up
The first step to making iced tea requires the iced tea maker to heat up the water inside its reservoir (though the reservoir can get limed over time and need to be cleaned). This water needs to be reasonably hot before it can be used for brewing since brewing in cold water would take too long and would be far too inefficient.
So, before anything else, as soon as you switch on your iced tea maker, the water in the reservoir starts heating up. As soon as the temperature crosses a certain threshold temperature (depending on your model and the brew setting you’ve set your machine at), the water is ready to be passed on to the steeping basket for brewing the tea.
Step 2: Hot water meets tea leaves, brewing begins
As any tea veteran knows, you need to introduce your tea leaves to hot water to make them release their flavor and actually make tea. In an iced tea maker, this takes place inside the brewing basket (or steeping basket as it’s often called) where hot water from the reservoir and pre-loaded tea leaves (and any other fruit slices or spices you may have added) meet.
The steeping basket allows the hot water to come in small bursts, with short intervals in between each burst of water. This ensures that the brewing basket never overflows with hot water and spill outside the iced tea maker.
The brewing basket also has a filter at the bottom that keeps the tea leaves in the basket and prevents the hot water from draining too quickly into the pitcher below. Delaying the water like this is important, since it allows more time for brewing inside the basket, and so more flavor is extracted from the leaves with every drop of water. Eventually, though, the water (now brewed concentrated tea) drips down into the pitcher below.
Step 3: Tea drips down into a pitcher full of ice
Although we’ve technically brewed our tea in the previous step, there are two major problems with it: it’s far too strong for anyone’s tastes and far too hot to be called “iced” tea. That’s why before it can be served, the tea needs to fall into a pitcher full of ice.
As it falls from the top of the ice and settles at the bottom, the hot tea is cooled and diluted by the melting ice, making it instantly ready for serving. Once the entire water reservoir is empty, and the pitcher filled to the brim with iced tea, you’re good to go.