The Arnold Palmer, which is a mixture of iced tea and lemonade and is also known as a “half and half,” has mostly failed to live up to my expectations whenever I’ve tried it. They frequently have a metallic flavour with a trace of instant powdered tea, a bitter aftertaste due to over-steeping the tea bags, and a whiff of lemon floor cleaner due to whatever crystalline substance was added to the lemonade. Even when produced from scratch, they will never be able to compete with an Arnold Palmer.
The perfect version would have a robust taste profile resembling solid tea (but without any unappealing astringency or bitterness). It would be sharp and acidic, with just the proper amount of sweetness to make it drinking by the pitcher, and it would include real lemon juice that was bright and fresh. The mixture would be daring and tasteful, unlike weak tea and weak lemonade buried under a layer of watery ice in the vain hope that the combination would save them.
And it finally dawned on me that all this time, the answers to my most pressing Arnold Palmer questions have been waiting for me right here on Serious Eats.
The Best Iced Tea Is a Well-Kept Secret No. 1
Iced tea ought to have a pure and refreshing taste, drawing attention to the soft and abundant aromas and flavours of the tea you use rather than emphasizing its astringency and bitterness. The method of brewing your tea at a high temperature differs from the method to get there. When you cool hot tea, you are left with a beverage that my coworker Max likened to “bitter mulch water.” The Japanese iced coffee method, in which the tea is brewed to double its normal strength before being poured immediately over ice to dilute it, results in a cup of tea with a flavour that is both over-extracted and diluted. The results of Max’s and Kenji’s prior experiments reveal that the best-tasting iced tea is produced by something other than cooling down hot tea or letting your tea steep in the sun for an extended period. Although brewing tea in the sun has a certain allure—we can all image our grandmothers tenderly leaving it out to brew—in reality, the flavour is not as pleasant, and it does not protect against bacteria as well as tea that is brewed in the refrigerator.
Making tea with a cold brew method is not complicated: In one quart of hot water, you should place four tea bags or one heaping spoonful of loose tea. (I prefer to use large Mason jars for this because they seal beautifully, but it doesn’t matter whether you brew in glass, plastic, or aluminium as long as you serve your tea from a glass.) “I like to use large Mason jars for this because they seal nicely.” The combination should be allowed to cool in the refrigerator for five hours. Remove the tea bags from the cup or strain the tea. You may drink it right once or preserve it in the fridge for up to three days.
Or, please wait. Please don’t drink it yet. Because the flavour of the tea improves when it is combined with…
The Not-So-Secret Number Two: The Lemonade with the Most Flavor
You may have encountered Stella’s recipe for making the most delicious homemade limeade. The most important thing to remember about this item is that it is not a typical mixture of lime juice, water, and sugar. Instead, the sugar is dissolved into a strong syrup, produced by simply blending the juiced citrus rinds with sugar and letting them sit out at room temperature for some time. After being mixed with lime juice and a little bit of cold water, the drink’s flavour becomes more complex due to the sugar, which extracts the fragrant essential oils from the rinds.
What works for limes works just as well for lemons, and voila! We now have the formula for the best possible lemonade. Enjoy.
Or, please wait. Before you add water, you need to figure out if you want lemonade or if you’d rather have a little A.P. action instead.
The Crowning Achievement: Finding the Right Balance
You may combine our cold-brewed iced tea with our completed lemonade, which will produce satisfactory results. However, the proportions must be adjusted significantly to make the most excellent Arnold Palmer. You will dilute your mixture of lemon rind syrup and fresh lemon juice with tea prepared in your refrigerator rather than add cold water as you usually would. This is because the tea has already been cooled. Adding one quart of iced tea is the proper amount to give the mixture a background of earthy, smooth black tea while preventing it from tasting watery or bland.
This thing is powerful, popping with the rich flavour of fresh lemon, which is fantastic since you’ll want to pour it into tall cups of ice when the weather is hot because you’ll want to cool it down. Bring the glasses and pitcher out to your patio, and have a bottle of bourbon ready for guests to enjoy alongside their beverage of choice. Depending on their tastes (as well as what they have planned for the rest of the day), guests have the option of adding alcohol to their beverages or keeping them nonalcoholic.
- 10 to 14 medium-sized lemons, totalling 3 pounds (1.3 kg) of lemons
- Fourteen ounces (or 2 cups) of sugar (400 grams).
- 4 cups of iced black tea steeped in cold water
- Lemons should be brought to room temperature before rolling against a hard surface to soften the rinds. Cut in half and juice, then store the liquid in a jar that can be sealed in the refrigerator. Cube the shells to a size of one inch. Toss with sugar in a large nonreactive mixing basin, cover the bowl securely with plastic wrap, and allow to rest at room temperature for approximately three hours, stirring roughly once every 45 minutes until the sugar has completely dissolved. (If you want the best results, let the mixture sit out for at least 12 hours.)
- Mix the rind mixture with 8 ounces (one cup) of the lemon juice that was set aside. After giving it a good stir, transfer the mixture to a container made of glass or ceramic and pass it through a filter with a fine nonreactive mesh or a piece of cheesecloth. When it has reached this stage, the concentrated lemonade can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.
- When you are ready to serve, combine the cold-brewed tea and concentrated lemonade in a pitcher and mix to combine. Serve in glasses that have been filled with ice.
Cheesecloth or a nonreactive fine-mesh strainer, a pitcher with a capacity of 2 quarts
You may have some fresh lemon juice left over, which may be saved for another use or poured into individual glasses to give the Arnold Palmer a more sour flavour profile.