Summer is the perfect time to enjoy a nice cold iced tea, but how do you make iced tea? Can you make iced tea with loose tea? Do you need special equipment? Can you make iced tea from scratch?
You don’t need pre-made iced tea mixes or special tea bags to make iced tea. You can make delicious iced tea at home easily with ingredients you already have in your kitchen. You don’t even need to boil water if you don’t want to.
How to Make Iced Tea – 3 Methods
Method 1: Traditionally Brewed Iced Tea
Traditionally brewed iced tea is a great way to make iced tea whenever you want it. It’s the perfect way to make iced tea at a moment’s notice because you don’t have to prepare anything in advance. All you need is tea, water and ice – what could be simpler?
- 2-3 teaspoons loose tea or 2-3 tea bags
- 1 cup water
- Sweetener to taste (optional) – sugar, honey, and stevia work well
- If you’re using green tea, heat the water, but don’t bring it to a boil. You’re looking for a warm simmer of about 175°F. For black tea or oolong tea, heat the water to just under boiling, about 205°F.
- Remove your water from the heat. Add your tea and let it steep. If you’re using green tea, steep it for 30-40 seconds (or to taste). For black or oolong teas, steep for up to 1 minute (or to taste). This is a very concentrated tea, so expect it to be strong.
- Strain your tea.
- Transfer your brewed tea to a 2-quart pitcher.
- Add optional sweetener to taste, remembering that the tea will get sweeter as it cools.
- Dilute with cold water to taste.
- Allow the tea to cool to room temperature.
- Fill a glass with ice and add the brewed tea.
- Serve immediately and enjoy!
Feel free to garnish your tea with a slice of lemon, fresh fruit, or mint!
Method 2: Cold Brew Iced Tea
Cold brewing tea is an easy way to make iced tea. You don’t even have to boil water! However, cold brew tea does take 8-12 hours to steep, which means you have to prepare it ahead of time.
- 3 teaspoons loose leaf tea or 3 tea bags
- 1 quart room temperature water
- Place tea in in a 1-quart canning jar or glass pitcher.
- Add water.
- Cover jar and place in refrigerator to steep for 8-12 hours.
- Fill a glass with ice.
- Add the cold brewed tea.
- Serve and enjoy!
Because the tea will sink to the bottom of the container while steeping, you don’t need to worry about straining the tea until you get to the very bottom.
The tea won’t become bitter or over-steeped because it is brewed cold using room temperature water.
Method 3: Sun Tea or Sun Brewed Iced Tea
I grew up brewing iced tea in the sun. Every summer, it was how my family brewed tea to turn into iced tea.
Sun brewed tea has a much stronger flavor than other methods of making tea, making it the perfect strength of tea to turn into iced tea.
My family always placed 6-8 tea bags and a gallon of water in a gallon-sized glass jar.
We set the jar in a bright sunny spot where the tea would brew in the sun for hours, usually about five hours. It was done when it was “the color of tea.”
Today, some people advise you not to make sun tea. They warn that the tea doesn’t get hot enough to kill bacteria, which can be a big problem if you add sugar.
I’ve been drinking sun tea for all my life. I’ve never known anyone in my family to get sick from it. Anyone who wanted sweet tea always added sugar directly to their glass of iced tea right when they poured it. Sugar was never added to the gallon-jar of sun tea, where it could ferment if it sat in the sun for hours.
Use your own wisdom if you make sun tea. If you don’t feel safe drinking it, make cold brewed tea instead (see method 2 above).
I know I plan to continue drinking sun brewed iced tea because I love it – for the flavor and the memories.