Prior to a few weeks ago, around the time I posted this recipe for Greek frappé, I can't recall ever giving much of a toss about either iced coffee or iced tea. But since then I've arranged a meeting with a kind soul (@shedlikesfood) who has brought back some sachets of Nescafé Classic from her travels, bought a Vietnamese filter pot, checked with Melange on Bellenden Road to find out when their next delivery of Cà Phê VN coffee arrives (it's today), doubled my holdings in ice cube trays and re-arranged the contents of the fridge to accommodate jugs of cold-brewed coffee, cold tea and sugar syrup. A textbook example, I'm sure you'll agree, of gastro-bonkers OCD.
Probably, by now, every one but me is familiar with the cold brew method. If you're not, it simply involves steeping coarsely ground coffee in water (the ratio of 4½ parts water to 1 part coffee seems a commonly given guide) for about 12 hours. You then strain the resultant concentrate - once through a sieve and then again through a finer coffee filter - to leave behind any 'silt'; then chill. To use it, simply dilute with water or milk and sweeten to taste. (Not having a coffee filter to hand, I used a cut-out piece of J-Cloth for the second strain).
Aficionados of this method say it produces a smoother, less bitter brew - because there's no heat involved, the oils which are full of acidic compounds are not released into the water. The counter argument is that “…it uses too much coffee to be close to drinkable; it misses all the subtle brightness and nuance extracted when water of the proper temperature is used to dissolve the coffee oils that are so carefully developed in the craft roasting process, leaving a dull shadow of what might have been……oh, and the aroma is also dull to non-existent.” (From the website of Oren's Daily Roast, a New York chain of coffee houses.) I reckon it's just the ticket for cheaper blends containing a large amount of the harsher (and caffeine-packed) Robusta bean.
However, any argument, either for or against, might well be considered moot when what you're going to do with the end product is mix it with sweet and sticky condensed milk.
Which brings us to Vietnamese coffee. Here's a video on how to make it:
If you're using this method, and getting an X-rated shot of coffee, it makes sense to serve over crushed ice which will then dilute it. What I did though was make a cold brew to a ratio of around 5:1 and use some of it to make coffee ice cubes then mix both in a glass with the condensed milk. It was delicious. Give it a try.
And the iced tea? I made it by steeping four jasmine teabags and a small lump of ginger in a litre of boiling water for about 4-5 minutes and adding a tablespoon of lemon juice. Once it had cooled, I used some to make ice cubes. Then I filled a glass with the cubes, poured over the chilled tea and sweetened it with a little sugar syrup (heat equal amounts of sugar and water in a pan until the sugar has dissolved). That was delicious too. Shame that summer is over.
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