How to Make Exceptional Iced Tea in Less Than 15 Minutes

Who needs an iced tea maker when you can make from-scratch iced tea in the microwave in less than 15 minutes?

To make quick tea, place 5 tea bags and 1 quart of water in a 2-quart Pyrex measuring cup. Cover and microwave on high power until very steamy (8 to 10 minutes), and then let steep for 3 minutes. Remove the bags, sweeten with sugar if you like, add 3 cups of ice and serve.

Is one tea bag better than the next? I performed a blind tasting of iced tea to find the answer. After tasting fifteen different teas, imported and domestic, loose and in bags, Red Rose tea bags were my first choice, followed by Twinings Orange Pekoe bags. Jackson's Orange Pekoe bags came in third.

To find out if there was a reason for Red Rose's superior flavor, I consulted with the National Tea Association. Representatives said it is generally accepted in the industry that Red Rose uses superior tea (it's all hand-plucked, not machine-picked). Red Rose leaves are rich, dark, and clean and have the least amount of "stem," the light, weedy-looking stuff that's a result of machine-picking.

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