Getting Tea Down to a T
December 4, 2010 7:34 PM   Subscribe

What one-gallon pitchers are hot water-safe?

I'm getting into the habit of producing iced tea in quantity so I drink fewer garbage drinks. I learned a valuable lesson the day I bought a $3 plastic one-gallon pitcher at the store and poured hot water into it: the plastic softened and distorted right away.

I'm having trouble finding a pitcher to replace it, plastic or glass. I'm not picky here. If it has a lid, holds hot water, and doesn't melt/release toxins, I'm sold.

Or maybe I'm making iced tea wrong? Alternative methods involving a minimum of dirty dishes are welcome.
posted by spamguy to Food & Drink (13 answers total)
I make my iced tea about double strength in a saucepan, then pour it into a pitcher that's already half-full of relatively cold water. It's fairly solid plastic but nothing really special. I've never had a problem. Also takes less time to cool down that way, and I'm terribly impatient.
posted by gracedissolved at 7:37 PM on December 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

Oh, also, I leave it to steep in the saucepan for a bit to get it that strong, so it's not, by the time I pour it, still boiling.
posted by gracedissolved at 7:39 PM on December 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

I also drink iced tea in quantity. I've got a couple stainless-steel pitchers.

This one wasn't the cheapest, and it's not a gallon, but I think it's the prettiest.
posted by box at 7:45 PM on December 4, 2010

I use two regular, plastic pitchers. One holds the tea I'm currently drinking. When that one is starting to get low, I start another pitcher by putting tea bags in it with some cold water (out of our cooler, because our tap water is yucky-tasting). I put the pitcher in the refrigerator. By the time the first pitcher is finished, the second one is ready. The first one gets washed, and is ready for when I need to make more.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 7:47 PM on December 4, 2010

rubbermaid pitchers won't distort, but I can't speak to the releasing of toxins. (Perhaps I should rethink the way I make iced tea...)
posted by somanyamys at 7:53 PM on December 4, 2010

I have a small ceramic teapot, similar to this, that I use to steep the tea. I use two or three teabags and about four cups of boiling water from my electric teakettle. After 10 minutes or so, I'll take out the teabags and often leave the tea in the pot to cool a little longer. The next time I walk into the kitchen and remember I was making iced tea, I'll pour the tea into a plastic pitcher and add a tray or two of ice from the freezer, then fill the rest of the way with tap water. Give the teapot a quick rinse and done!
posted by platinum at 8:01 PM on December 4, 2010

Why not get a glass pitcher? They are very widely available, and you can even get designs with lids.
posted by Sara C. at 9:20 PM on December 4, 2010

This is the pitcher I use, it's about 6 bucks at Target. Amazon only seems to have them in 3 packs, I don't know why anyone would need three of them unless you REALLY like tea.

I have had no trouble with this pitcher getting soft/rubbery or distorting in any fashion. In fact, the only problem I have with it is that it does stain fairly easily, so there's generally a brown haze at the bottom half of the pitcher from tea sitting in it. It's easily corrected with a good scrubbing with a little bleach.
posted by aristan at 9:30 PM on December 4, 2010

And if you're worried about BPA in your plastic containers, Rubbermaid has set up a site that lists all of their products that contain BPA. The Classic Clear pitcher I use, and most likely Somanyamys as well, is BPA free.

(As an aside, BPA plastics tend to be crystal clear and hard/thick plastic, as that was what the BPA addition was supposed to achieve. Thick plastics without BPA tend to be hazy rather than truly clear. While it's not a perfect way to tell if a plastic item has BPA or not, it's a good rule of thumb. BPA plastics tend to bleed off BPA when a container is brand new or very old.)
posted by aristan at 9:40 PM on December 4, 2010

Use glass, metal or porcelain.

Do not use any plastic even if it's "BPA-free". Any plastic will leach to some degree, and while it would be paranoid to avoid plastic like the plague, repeated use of a plastic jug to hold hot tea is a bad idea. Especially if the other options are just as easy.

Cold water will leach much less than hot, so if you absolutely want to use plastic then at least cool your tea in the pan like gracedissolved said.
posted by mostly-sp3 at 7:29 AM on December 5, 2010

I bought this glass pitcher last Summer, specifically to get away from the plastic one I'd been using. It only holds two liters, not a gallon, but that's OK by me. I make the tea directly in the pitcher by pouring boiling water over three (Tetley) tea bags. After letting it steep for a couple of minutes, I take the bags out. The pitcher is heavy, even when empty. It has a lid that seals with an O-ring, so spills are minimal. It fits on every shelf of my fridge except the ones on the door. I am completely satisfied with it.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:15 AM on December 5, 2010

I have this pitcher from bodum that works nicely, but my nalgene bottle works just as well.
posted by ejaned8 at 11:13 AM on December 5, 2010

A friend of mine was in your shoes and used a French press. He had a few of them; one was from Ikea and one was from Bodum, but both seemed to work fine. The easiest way of dealing with this was to make a strong concentrate in the French press and then either pour the concentrate into a pitcher to make a larger quantity right then or storing the concentrate to mix it up a bit at a time.

Either way, it was super easy and involved a much more manageable quantity of hot water. You might have to figure out what works best for you re: teas that don't cause bitterness when you steep them for a long time (hint: not Lipton), but you can have a lot of fun with loose teas.
posted by Madamina at 10:02 AM on December 6, 2010

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