Quick and Easy Tips To Make The Best Iced Tea
Nothing says summertime quite like a refreshing glass of iced tea. It’s easily enjoyed lounging alongside the pool or smelling the roses in your backyard abode. The tea plays an integral role in societal gatherings from tea parties to afternoon chats with friends and neighbors.
You can brew the perfect cup of iced tea every time by following a few simple guidelines. Here, we’ll show you the basics to brewing iced tea. Plus, get a simple recipe you can modify to include your favorite teas and ingredients.
Tips To Make Great Iced Tea
Start With High-Quality Tea
Tea flavor all comes down to brewing technique and quality. Using premium quality teas ensures you get the best flavor every time. We recommend using loose leaf tea if you want to make iced tea using the cold brew or sun tea methods. That's because loose tea will infuse flavor better in the cold water than classic tea bags.
For iced tea that is brewed using boiling water, tea bags are a good alternative when convenience and speed are important. You can find out how to brew iced tea using tea bags with our handy guide here.
Whether you choose to use loose tea or tea bags, choose teas from a reputable brand. Organic teas ensure that no chemicals or pesticides will alter the natural flavor of the tea. In addition, make sure to choose large, pyramid-shaped tea bags or satchels if using bagged tea. Avoid the small, compact Lipton or grocery store tea bags since these easily develop bitter flavors when steeped for long periods of time. The roomy casings or satchels and pyramid bags allow the tea leaves to fully expand and infuse high-quality flavor.
Use The Right Amount of Tea
Tasty tea comes down to using the right amount of tea every time. For iced tea, we recommend using one to two teaspoons of loose tea for every 10 to 12 ounces of water. Use two teaspoons for teas that are made of flower petals and large leaves. Use just one teaspoon for dense teas including black tea and spiced teas such as ginger. For stronger tea flavors, you can use more tea or simply let it steep longer.
Only Use Good Water Sources
The quality of your water can affect the flavor and consistency of your iced tea. For tea brewing in general, it's best to use only spring water or filtered water.
Tap water varies from county to county and state to state. Some areas have high-quality tap water while others do not. In most cases, tap water is treated with chemicals such as chlorine that affect the flavor of teas. Avoid tap water to preserve the natural taste of your tea. Distilled water is another bad choice as it does not fully develop flavors.
Mineral water is often added to iced tea to create a fizzy, bubbly effect. If you want to use mineral water, add it in as you would any additional flavoring. Do not use mineral water to brew the tea leaves as the minerals can alter the flavor.
Not all teas can be brewed using the same temperature. In fact, delicate flavor profiles such as those in white tea and green tea can turn bitter or become lost when brewed using water temperatures that are too high. Most loose leaf teas and tea bags will include the proper brewing temperature on the instructions. As a general rule, use the following temperature ranges for brewing iced teas.
- White Tea: White teas should be brewed with water between 170 and 185 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Green Tea: Green tea is notorious for developing bitter flavors. To avoid this, brew Japanese green teas between 160 and 170 degrees Fahrenheit and Chinese green teas between 170 and 180 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Oolong Tea: Heavily oxidized oolongs — dark oolongs — should be brewed using boiling water at temperatures around 212 degrees Fahrenheit. Lighter oolongs —which are only mildly oxidized — are best brewed using temperatures between 180 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Black Tea: Use boiling water at 212 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Pu-Erh Tea: Use water between 190 and 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Herbal Tea: Use boiling water for all herbal teas.
Most iced tea contains sugar to sweeten things up a bit. In fact, sugar is essential to popular iced tea recipes including the famous American southern sweet tea. Adding sugar may seem like a no brainer, but there are a few things to keep in mind when sweetening your tea.
Sugar dissolves best in hot water. If you are using a solid sugar to flavor tea, make sure to add it in when the tea is still hot. This ensures that the sugar dissolves completely into the mixture rather than simply settling at the bottom. Solid sugars such as brown sugar, cane sugar, and honey all do best when added to a hot tea mixture.
If you want to add sugar to cold water, it's better to opt for a liquid sugar alternative. Simple syrups are a great choice for adding sweetness to iced tea brewing using the cold brew method.
Simple Iced Tea Recipe
- 1 large heat-proof pitcher
- 5 teaspoons of tea leaves (green tea, black tea, or herbal teas)
- 50 ounces of water
- 1 cup of sugar
- 1 small handful of fresh mint leaves
- 1 cup of fresh fruit
- A few lemon slices or a dash of lemon juice
- Ice cubes
- Bring water to a boil in a stovetop pot or a temperature controlled tea kettle. If using true teas, make sure to use the proper water temperature for each type. For herbal teas, use boiling water at 212 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Once the water reaches the proper temperature, add the tea leaves and remove from heat. If using solid sugar, add it in while the mixture is hot. Let the mixture cool to room temperature.
- Pour the tea mixture into a large heat-proof pitcher. Add in the fresh fruit, mint leaves, and lemon slices.
- Serve immediately over ice cubes or store in the refrigerator for later use.
Brewing Your Own Iced Tea
Follow these simple tips to brew the perfect iced tea every time. You can mix half a glass of ice tea with half a glass of lemonade to brew an Arnold Palmer that is a touch sweeter. You can also add an Asian flair by adding condensed milk or evaporated milk for a Hong Kong iced milk tea. You can also swap out the lemons for limes to make lime iced tea.
Whatever type of iced tea you choose to brew, it's sure to be a crowd pleaser when you use these handy tips for brewing. Brew up a large batch to serve every day in the hot summer temps or opt for a few different pitchers to create a stunning garden iced tea party. It's the perfect addition to healthy eating and cooling off in the hot summer months.