It’s hot out there — still. A glass of iced tea would be nice.
"Do you have a recipe for Plantation Ice Tea that is close to the one that Diamond Head Market and Grill makes?" Shayne Tanaka wrote.
"Plantation" usually refers to a sweet mixture of tea and pineapple juice identified with Hawaii. Other regional iced teas, should you care to dabble, are Boston Iced Tea (with cranberry juice) and Southern Sweet Tea (with loads of sugar). Then there’s Long Island Iced Tea (with lots of booze and no actual tea).
Kelvin Ro, the chef/owner at Diamond Head Market and Grill, sent over the restaurant’s recipe. It has the usual pineapple juice, but also cinnamon and lemongrasss, and is particularly nice because it isn’t too sweet.
Before we get to the actual recipe, here are some basic instructions for making iced tea. They were given to me several years ago by Byron Goo of the Tea Chest, and I’ve been using them since:
To make a gallon of iced tea, start with half that much water (2 quarts) and eight standard tea bags or about 1/2 cup loose tea leaves. Bring the water just barely to a boil. Let the tea steep 2 to 4 minutes. If you like your tea strong, use more tea bags or leaves. Don’t steep longer; that just draws more tannin and caffeine out of the leaves, causing bitterness. After the tea is cool, add cold water and/or ice to make a full gallon.
Now you’re ready to tackle the recipe, which is honestly pretty simple.
The exact flavor that you get will depend on the type of tea you use and how strongly you brew it. Ro says his crew uses Nestea, which is a basic supermarket black tea. You could also experiment with flavored teas (I tried mango and it was delicious).
This recipe makes about a gallon of iced tea. I made a half-batch, but started with just 4 cups of brewed tea (do the math, that’s a quarter of a gallon). After adding ice and a little cold water to each glass, I figure I got about a half-gallon total in the end. I would suggest this approach, as it allows each drinker to adjust the concentration of his or her individual glass.
1 gallon freshly prepared tea
1/2 cup pineapple juice
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 stalk crushed lemongrass
Combine ingredients while tea is still warm. Chill, remove lemongrass and pour over ice. Garnish each glass with fresh mint and a pineapple wedge.
Approximate nutritional information, per cup: 30 calories; no fat, cholesterol, sodium, fiber or protein; 8 g carbohydrate; 7 g sugar
Variation: Start with half the amount of brewed tea, but use full amounts of the other ingredients. Those who like a strong tea flavor can drink it over ice, undiluted. For a less concentrated tea, add chilled water as well as ice.
Nutritional analysis by Joannie Dobbs, Ph.D., C.N.S. Write "By Request," Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, Honolulu 96813. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.