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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Tuesday, November 29

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Drink Fri Jul 24 2009

Lazy Iced Tea for Lazy Summer

I visited my family in Japan earlier this month. Alas, the trip piled up more tasty foods than my stomach could accommodate (I would have needed two extra stomachs to accommodate everything that called to me). One of the best discoveries, though, didn't take up much room: a pitcher of cold-brew iced tea that always sat in my mother's fridge.

In the cold-brew method, tea leaves are steeped in cold water, right in the fridge, instead of being steeped in hot water, cooled and transferred to the fridge later. Because the flavors of the tea are extracted much more gently, the cold-brew method takes longer, usually overnight. In terms of the actual active time, though, the method requires a lot less engagement than hot-brew. You just leave a bag of tea steeping in the fridge overnight, take out the bag in the morning, and it's ready for the day. You don't even need ice cubes to fast-cool it. There's an additional benefit: it's a lot tastier than hot-brew tea, in my opinion.

Tea brewed cold doesn't get that astringency and bitterness that you sometimes find in your hot-brew tea. This is because these flavor elements are released only when the tea is exposed to intense heat. What you get instead is a subtle, but very clean, essence of each tea, unmarred by off-flavors. I've tried all the teas I have lying around in the cupboard, from higher-end Earl Grey from Julius Meinl to a $1.75 can of Jasmine tea from a Chinese grocer, and all have come out wonderful. Trust me, you'll be amazed how sophisticated your cheap Jasmin tea can taste, when brewed in this method. (This cheap Jasmine tea has been the winner so far.)

Some tips:
- Use plenty of tea, a bit more than you would in a hot brew. I use a generous tablespoon of tea for a 2-quart pitcher.
- If using tea bags, try a Japanese-style tea bag that you can fill yourself. (They are available in many East Asian grocery stores, and of course, at Mitsuwa or Tensuke.) Buy the largest-sized one you can find so that the tea leaves have enough room to expand.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
Read this feature »

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