Tea comes in two basic varieties: black and green—green has a more delicate flavor. Actually, all tea starts out green; black tea is simply green tea that’s gone through various stages of processing and fermentation, explains author and former Gramercy Tavern managing partner Nick Mautone. For iced tea, use approximately 1 tablespoon of tea per 5 to 6 ounces of hot water and let it steep for up to 10 minutes. Drinking it cold reduces the tannin pucker, and ice will dilute it.
Place the tea bags in a large heatproof glass pitcher. Use a vegetable peeler to strip the peel from the lemon or orange, avoiding as much of the white pith as possible, and add the peel to the pitcher.
Pour the simmering water into the pitcher and let it steep for at least 5 minutes. Remove the tea bags and discard. Refrigerate the tea until cool.
To serve, fill iced tea glasses with ice and pour the tea over the ice. Sweeten with simple syrup, if desired.