Clearing up the Myth of Cloudy Iced Tea
Many of us have been conditioned to think that iced tea has to be crystal clear to taste its best. Cloudy tea is the result of low-quality tea or funky preparation methods, right? Not so! Although the phenomenon of cloudy tea is still a bit mysterious, tea experts and researchers have determined that, looks aside, clouding isn’t necessarily a negative thing, because it does not affect the taste of the tea.
Clouding can be caused by using hard water which contains high concentrations of minerals. The minerals can take the form of visible solids that don’t dissolve at cooler temperatures. Simply brewing your tea with water treated with a reverse osmosis and re-mineralization system can alleviate the cloudy appearance. Clouding can also be caused by a component of tea known as theaflavins. Theaflavins remain evenly suspended in tea when kept at a higher temperature or cooled slowly. If the tea is cooled quickly, the theaflavins will cause the tea to cloud.
Further studies have tried to determine why certain teas contain more theaflavins and thus are more prone to clouding. There are theories about teas from certain regions or those grown at high altitudes being more likely to cloud, but the Sri Lanka Tea Research Institute has concluded that clouding can take place in either high or low quality teas. Theaflavin content can change from harvest to harvest, making it difficult to predict a tea’s propensity toward clouding based on region.
A cloudy iced tea can be cleared up by something as simple as adding a very small amount of hot water, which demonstrates that the clouding is unrelated to flavor. Try tasting the cloudy tea before and after adding a splash of hot water – just don’t dilute it in the process. The simple discovery that clouding doesn’t affect the taste of iced tea may just open up a whole new world of great tasting teas to you.