Iced tea is a pleasant summer beverage, even when it comes from a can or jar. The real thing is much better, but preparing a large pot of hot tea and chilling it takes time. Mr. Coffee’s iced tea makers cut that preparation time sharply, offering a drinkable glass of tea in just 10 minutes.
Mr. Coffee Iced Tea Maker
At the time of this writing, only two models of iced tea makers are available. The Mr. Coffee BVMC-TM33 is the higher-end model, with a 2.5-quart capacity; and the TM1, with a 2-quart capacity, is the lower-end model. No 3 quart iced tea maker is currently available, but plenty of older 3-quart machines – the TM3, TM50 and TM 70 series – are in kitchens and thrift stores across the country.
Differences in the design and layout differ somewhat across the various models and generations of iced tea makers, but they all operate in much the same way.
Managing Hot and Cold
Iced tea makers must address a fundamental contradiction. Water needs to be at a near-boiling temperature to make decent tea, but if iced tea is your goal, you also need a cool, pleasant drinking temperature very quickly. Theoretically, a high-tech, high-speed tea cooling system is possible, but the Mr. Coffee iced tea maker takes a simple, low-tech approach ‒ it uses ice to cool the tea.
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The brewer portion of the machine uses hot water to steep rather strong tea, which then drains into a serving pitcher filled with ice. The ice rapidly cools the tea and dilutes it to an appropriate strength for drinking. It’s fast and effective, and it keeps down the price of the machine.
Making Tea in the BVMC-TM33
First, fill the tea maker’s pitcher to the water-level fill line. Next, rotate the brew head to expose the reservoir, and pour it in the water. Lift the top lid and add loose tea or tea bags, whichever you prefer, to the brew basket’s permanent filter. For a full pitcher of tea, Mr. Coffee suggests 5 to 7 tea bags or 2 to 3 tablespoons of loose tea.
Inside the brew head, you’ll see what looks like a miniature version of the shower head from your bathroom. Rotate it so it’s over the brew basket, and then close the lid. Adjust the strength of your tea with the steeping lever. Finally, fill the pitcher with ice to the ice line or, alternatively, with chilled water to the water line. At this point, the machine is ready, so plug it in and press the “On” button. The machine will turn off again once the brewing cycle is complete.
This process is very similar to that used for most of the older 3-quart machines as well.
Making Tea in the TM-1
The smaller TM-1 is a simpler machine, with a slightly different brewing process. Start the same way, by filling the pitcher to its fill line – or halfway, if you’re only making a quart–and pour it into the machine’s reservoir. Fill the pitcher to the ice line with ice or the water line with chilled water.
With this machine, the brew basket isn’t built into the brewer and doesn’t have a permanent filter. Instead, you’ll place the brew basket on top of the pitcher, and line it with the large, 8- to 12-cup size paper basket filter. Fill the basket with 6 to 10 tea bags or 2 to 4 tablespoons of loose tea, distributing them evenly around the basket. If you use loose tea, you may want to place a second filter over the leaves to keep them from spattering around the basket as the hot water falls on them.
Place the lid over the brew basket, and slide the pitcher snugly into the brewer. Plug in the machine, and press the “On” button. When the brewing cycle is complete, it will shut off automatically.
Be careful when handling the brew basket after brewing and when removing the pitcher from the brewer at the end of the brewing cycle. There’s always a risk of burning yourself with steam or very hot water, so handle it with respect.
A Few Tea Maker Tips
Your tea will taste best if you wash the brew basket parts and the pitcher and lid regularly in hot, soapy water. You’ll also need to periodically clean the brewer itself by running a cycle with white vinegar or the company’s own Mr. Coffee cleaner/delimer product. Afterwards, run another cycle with just fresh cold water, and discard the water when it’s complete. At that point, your brewer is clean and ready to use again.
Mr. Coffee recommends deliming the machine after every 80 brew cycles, but if you live in an area with hard water, you should do it every 40 cycles or as needed.
Fred Decker is a trained chef, former restaurateur and prolific freelance writer, with a special interest in all things related to food and nutrition. His work has appeared online on major sites including Livestrong.com, WorkingMother.com and the websites of the Houston Chronicle and San Francisco Chronicle; and offline in Canada's Foodservice & Hospitality magazine and his local daily newspaper. He was educated at Memorial University of Newfoundland and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.