: frozen water
Yes, the officially definition of ice is frozen water, but ice really is so much more don't you think? It's how coffee and tea embrace the summer season and transform into delicious iced coffee and iced tea.
Ok silly I know, but ice is important especially when it comes to creating a tall glass of iced tea or coffee. Ice actually serves two functions; the first obviously is to chill the beverage, second, ice can contribute to the beverage experience. A big factor in contributing to the iced beverage experience has to do with the type of ice used. While most of us think ice is ice, and we use the cubes from our little blue trays in our freezer, there are actually numerous types of ice. Ice can differ in shape, size and ice to water ratio. This ice to water ratio leads to a certain hardness or softness. The softness or hardness of ice can contribute to the experience of iced coffee or tea. Ice that has some softness allows the sugar and flavors in coffee or tea to settle into the ice leaving yummy coffee or tea flavored ice. I know after I've slurped down an ice coffee I enjoy chewing on the ice, and I'm not alone, because over 50% of the population enjoys chewing ice! (CoffeeTalk.com)
The three generic types of ice are: flake, cube and nugget. Flake ice is very soft, wet and snowy. When you see a display at a restaurant, or at a grocery store this is often the type of ice used. Flake ice actually contains the highest amount of unfrozen water, with about 35% being unfrozen water and the remaining 65% is water. Cube ice is the most common type of ice and the hardest of the three generic types of ice. The shape is cubed and the ice to water ration with cube ice is about 95 % ice and 5% unfrozen water. The last generic type of ice is nugget ice. This type of ice is a happy medium with an ice to water ration of 80% ice and 20% unfrozen water. This type of ice really allows for the sugars and flavors of the beverage to settle in. ( This is the type of ice that tastes delicious to chew on!)
While most of us don't have a professional ice machine at home where we can create the perfect type of nugget or cube ice for our frozen beverages, it is interesting to experiment. Maybe next time at the store grab a bag of the nugget ice, or ask your favorite restaurant or caf what type of ice they offer. Test out the different ice choices. Do you enjoy your glass of iced tea with cubed or nugget ice? What about iced coffee?