How To Incorporate Spices Into Iced Tea Without A Grainy Texture

If you've ever sprinkled ground cinnamon into your iced tea, you know how deliciously soothing the flavor is — and how unfortunately grainy it makes the texture as it floats on the surface, coats your ice cubes, and leaves a chalky sludge at the bottom of your glass. The experience isn't great, especially since part of what people love about iced tea is its refreshing smoothness. While you can try to incorporate spices into your tea by stirring it or using some cheesecloth or mesh sieve, ground spices don't dissolve easily, even when the tea is warm. Plus, that sort defeats the purpose flavor-wise, and some of that undissolved spice silt is bound to get through.

Infusing whole spices into your tea is a simple technique you can use that won't sacrifice any spice-induced flavor while precluding any grittiness or particulate. The process is essentially the same as how herbal tea is made, and you can use this method for any whole spice. In addition to cinnamon sticks, some great choices for tea include nutmeg, star anise, cardamom, ginger, turmeric, dried clove buds, and allspice berries.

How to infuse flavor into iced tea using whole spices

Once you've decided on a tea and spice pairing, you're ready to begin your spiced infusion. The best way to start is by adding whole spices (not ground) to a pan of room-temperature water, before bringing it to a boil and turning off the heat, adding your tea bags to steep alongside the spices. Once it's finished steeping, remove the spices and tea bags, allowing the tea to cool before enjoying it over ice. This same principle can be applied to cold brew tea — just include whole spices in the jar with your tea and discard them once the tea has finished brewing in the fridge.

Two other ways to imbue your iced tea with spice, sans graininess, are to use a few drops of spice extract or incorporate spices into your simple syrup by adding whole or ground spices and straining them out at the end (great for a variety of uses!). You can also upgrade your iced tea by extending these techniques beyond spices to include herbs (mint, rosemary, lavender, or lemongrass), fruit (oranges, limes, or pomegranate), and other flavorful aromatics like vanilla bean or cocoa (perfect in iced puerh tea). A word of caution though, some of these more delicate herbs can turn bitter if steeped too long, so you may need to find the right combination and balance for your taste. But with a bit of luck, your tea's ice spice might be just as popular as the rapper.