Iced tea is a refreshing summer favourite that is both highly customizable and simple to make when brewed at home. Depending on your personal preference and time constraints, you can choose which of the following two steeping methods for creating iced tea suits you best.
What tea should I use?
It is important to select a quality tea to make your iced tea from. Loose leaf tea is ideal because tea from tea bags is often filled with fannings and dust left over from processing which lowers its quality and compromises the quality of your iced tea.
Earth & Water is proud to offer several premium and natural loose leaf teas that are ideal for making iced tea at home. These include:
This is the most commonly used method for brewing iced tea and will provide you with a bold end product and the quickest results. Hot brewed tea takes only a few minutes to steep and can then be cooled and ready to drink within an hour.
While the hot brew method provides a bold flavour and quick turnaround time, the hot water can also highlight the tea’s tannins, bitterness, and acidity, often requiring more sweetener to balance this out.
Cold brewing your tea will take more time, but will reward you with a smoother drink with reduced tannins and a less bitter flavour, highlighting the tea’s natural sweetness. The cold brewing method takes a great deal longer than hot brewing, between 8 and 24 hrs.
How to Make Hot Brew Iced Tea
For a small batch (up to four cups) use one cup of water per teaspoon of loose-leaf tea
- 4 cups water
- 4 teaspoons loose-leaf tea
For larger batches (eight cups to a gallon) you can increase the ratio of water – about 1-1/3 cups water per teaspoon of loose-leaf tea
- 8 cups water
- 2 tablespoons looseleaf tea
Tools you will need:
- Tea infuser
- OR a mesh strainer
- Mason jars or large glass pitcher for serving
For brewing your tea, you can use our tea ball infuser or a fine mesh strainer to remove the tea leaves once you’ve completed your batch of tea – a tea infuser makes the job significantly easier.
Your iced tea can be stored and served from mason jars or a large glass pitcher. There are also dedicated iced tea makers to consider if you are brewing iced tea frequently.
Step 1: Simmer Your Water
Bring half the water to simmer, NOT a boil – temperature is absolutely key when brewing an ideal iced tea. You can use the chart below to select the correct temperature for your tea.
- White tea: 175–185°F
- Green tea: 180–185°F
- Black tea: 200–205°F
- Herbal tea: 212°F (boiling)
Step 2: Steep Your Tea
Combine your simmering water with the correct amount of loose-leaf tea and allow it to steep for 4-10 minutes, depending on how strong you prefer your tea.
Step 3: Remove Tea Leaves, Dilute, Chill
Remove the loose-leaf tea inside your infuser or strainer and stir your sweetener (if you’re using any, you have a choice of sugar, honey, agave, maple syrup etc.) into the hot tea before diluting the concentrated tea with the remaining water. Refrigerate until cool.
How to Make Cold Brew Iced Tea
Tools you will need:
- Tea infuser
- Large mason jar OR pitcher that seals well
Step 1: Add your tea and water
In a large jar or a pitcher with a good seal, add two tablespoons of loose-leaf tea in your infuser for every cup of water. You can double the amount of tea for a bolder flavour.
Step 2: Steep your tea
Cover and place in your fridge for 8-12 hours, checking to see if your tea is ready afterwards. Your cold brew tea can steep for up to 24 hours for a bolder flavour. If you’ve accidentally made your tea too strong, you can also dilute it after the tea has finished steeping.
Step 3: Remove the tea infuser and sweeten
Remove the infuser container your loose-leaf tea, sweeten to taste, and your tea is chilled and ready to drink.
Agave and simple syrup are both ideal sweeteners for cold brew iced tea.
Making simple syrup
Combine 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar in a small saucepan on high heat, stirring. Bring this mixture to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. This should take about 90 seconds. Place in the fridge to cool. Pour into a squeeze bottle or jar for use with your tea.
How to Store Iced Tea
Iced tea should be stored in a glass or stainless-steel container instead of a plastic container, which can leech chemicals into your tea and distort its flavour. Always refrigerate your tea and keep its lid tightly closed to prevent the tea oxidizing and absorbing flavours from your fridge.
According to the CDC, you should drink sweetened teas within eight hours to prevent fermentation or bacterial contamination. Unsweetened teas are safe to drink for up to three or four days, but they begin to lose flavour after twenty four hours so are best enjoyed fresh.
Tip: Sweeten your glass of iced tea with simple syrup or agave right before drinking it to keep your whole batch of brewed tea fresher for longer.