How To Make The Best Iced Tea: 3 Different Methods

Erika Marty

You don’t have to buy a fancy bottled iced tea from Tazo or Pure Leaf to enjoy a refreshing tea drink during summer. Brewing iced tea as home is as easy as mixing tea leaves with cold or hot water. Plus it allows you the freedom to blend in other ingredients like fresh fruit and herbs to satisfy your palate. With this guide, we’ll show you how to make the best tea using loose leaf tea instead of tea bags. Learn how to brew a refreshing glass with these iced tea recipes using three different brewing methods.

Methods For Making the Best Iced Tea

Standard Iced Tea

Iced tea is a popular summertime beverage that can be brewed using hundreds of different flavors. The most common type of iced tea is known as sweet tea or southern sweet tea. It's made using Lipton black tea bags or loose leaf black tea and sweetener that can satisfy a sweet tooth. Black tea is the go-to tea type because it contains a large amount of tannins that produce strong, robust flavor.

When brewing iced tea — or hot tea for that matter — it's always a good idea to use high-quality ingredients. Loose tea has better flavor and health benefits compared to tea bags since loose tea contains the whole tea leaf. In terms of water quality, avoid tap water which can contain additives and chemicals that alter the flavor of the tea. Instead, use filtered water or spring water for the best results.

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Bring water to a rapid boil in a large saucepan on the stove.
  2. Add in tea leaves and remove from heat. For black and oolong teas, let the leaves steep for 3 to 5 minutes. If you are using herbal tea leaves, steep for 5 to 10 minutes.
  3. Remove the tea leaves and allow the tea concentrate to cool to room temperature. 
  4. Serve immediately in glasses filled with ice cubes or store in the refrigerator for later use.

Cold Brew Iced Tea

The cold brewing method involves brewing tea using cold water rather than hot water. Since cold water doesn't develop flavors as quickly as hot water, the tea leaves or tea bags are left in the water for several hours. 

To make cold brew tea, you may need to use a large amount of tea to develop the same flavors as when brewing with hot or boiling water. As a rule of thumb, use one heaping teaspoon of tea for every cup of water.

If you want to use a sweetener, stick to liquid sugar like simple syrup. Hard sugars like honey and brown sugar don't dissolve well in cold water so they should be avoided.

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Fill a large glass pitcher with cold spring or filtered water and add in the loose tea leaves.
  2. Cover the pitcher and let the tea steep overnight or for at least 8 to 10 hours.
  3. Do a taste test to make sure the tea flavor is right for your taste buds. If the tea tastes too weak, let it steep longer.
  4. Use a fine-mesh strainer to remove the tea leaves. Refrigerate for later use or serve immediately in large glass cups filled with ice cubes.

Sun Tea

Sun tea is a tea brewing method that harnesses the power of the sun to make a tasty iced tea. The tea leaves are placed in water and set out in direct sunlight for several hours while they infuse flavor and aroma. 

Some critics argue that brewing sun tea is dangerous because the lukewarm temperatures can encourage the growth of bacteria. This tea brewing method can be safe when proper precautions are taken. Always use a non-reactive jug or pitcher when brewing sun tea. Cover the tea to prevent bacteria and other contaminants from entering the container during the steeping process. Make small batches and only store sun brewed tea for 1 to 1 days.

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Fill a clean glass container with room temperature water and loose tea.
  2. Set the container in direct sunlight for 4 to 6 hours and cover it with a lid. You may need to move the pitcher to keep it in sunlight depending on where you live.
  3. Taste test the tea to determine your desired flavor. If the flavor is too weak, allow the tea to continue to steep.
  4. Once the tea is ready, serve in tall glasses with ice cubes or store for a day or two.

Brew The Best Iced Tea With a Little Imagination

Making iced tea is a great way to experiment with flavors. While traditional ice tea blends are made with black tea leaves, you can mix things up by brewing with other true teas such as green tea or white tea or with herbal tisanes like peach tea and hibiscus tea. You can even use flavored black teas to stick to tradition, but still add a new spin to things. Try an Earl Grey black tea for a touch of citrus flavor or opt for a coconut black tea if you want a tropical vibe.

The beauty of iced tea is that you can make each batch your own. Add a few fresh mint sprigs for a refreshing feeling or sweeten things up by using fresh fruit. Add some fresh-squeezed lemonade to make an Arnold Palmer or blend in frozen fruit and veggies to make iced tea smoothies.

Whatever your flavor, these iced tea recipes and brewing methods are the perfect tools for cooling off in summertime with a tasty drink. Brew your own iced tea unsweetened or add a dash of sweetener and enjoy the bright sunshine. 


Erika Marty

As a digital nomad, I get to work from anywhere in the world and discover new teas every week. When I'm not working, you can find me mountain biking, hiking, and petting every stray dog I meet.

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