There’s nothing better than a cold-brewed iced tea on a scorching hot summer day. Iced tea is deliciously refreshing, it keeps you wonderfully hydrated, and it’s a much, much healthier alternative to a sugar-filled can of soda pop!
Cold brew iced tea is surprisingly easy to prepare, too, although admittedly, you do need to prepare this beverage in advance. While simple to make, the best iced tea needs to be left for at least 6 hours in the fridge so it can cold brew - otherwise, you’ll have a weak iced tea.
In this article, we explain the best way to make iced tea using tea bags and explore a few positive health benefits behind a glass of this refreshing drink. Don’t stop here! Let’s learn how to make homemade ice tea!
How to make iced tea
You’ll be happy to hear that making homemade iced tea is actually ridiculously easy. In its most basic form, all you need are tea bags, water, and a large enough pitcher to hold your cold brew. You can add extras to spice the iced tea up, such as mint, lemon, orange zest, and more, but again, these are also simple ingredients to include in the recipe.
This is an unsweetened iced tea recipe, too, ensuring it’s the healthiest it can be - but we realize that some of you will want to add a little sugar or sweetener to the mix as well. Overall, this is super easy, but to cold brew the iced tea, you need to leave it for at least 6 hours (preferably longer.) This gives the tea time to seriously infuse the water, leaving you with a strong-tasting beverage.
After you leave the tea to brew, all you have to do is strain it, then serve over ice with any added garnishes you enjoy. We suggest using an ice ball maker to produce the purest ice. This ensures the quality of the finished iced tea isn’t diluted and ensures that your drink stays colder for longer.
You need to prepare cold brew iced tea in advance, so if you know there’s a hot day approaching, or you’ve got a garden party or barbecue planned, make up a pitcher the night before and let it do all the work while you sleep.
Follow the instructions below to learn how to make iced tea with tea bags!
Cold brew iced tea recipe
You can easily scale up the recipe below to fill your pitcher; just stick to a ratio of 1 tea bag for every 8 ounces of water. If you prefer a more potent brew, however, add more tea bags when making iced tea.
- 1 tea bag per every 8 oz of water
- Additional garnishes (choose from mint, lemon, lime, orange, etc.)
- Additional sweeteners (sugar, maple syrup, agave syrup, etc.)
- Prepare your tea bags by opening them up and pouring the contents into your pitcher.*
- Pour in cold water, give the ingredients a stir, then cover and place in the refrigerator.
- Leave your iced tea to brew for a minimum of 6 hrs, before removing it from the refrigerator.
- When you’re happy with the infusion, remove the iced tea from the fridge and strain the loose tea out of the pitcher.
- Stir in any sugars or sweeteners, and add any extra garnishes before serving your fresh iced tea in a glass with ice.
*Remember, you need 1 tea bag for every 8 ounces of water, so make sure you’re following the correct tea-to-water ratio when preparing this recipe!
How long does iced tea last?
Fresh iced tea is going to last for a few days once it’s been cold brewed. You can make it last longer by leaving out the extra garnishes and serving these directly in the glass. For example, slice a lemon and pour the iced tea over the lemon and extra ice, rather than leaving the lemon slices in the pitcher itself.
Keep your iced tea stored covered in the fridge, and it’s going to last at least 3 days and up to 5 days. You can mix up a large pitcher, then keep it tasting fresh by pouring over fresh ice and fresh garnish each time you’re thirsty for iced tea.
Do I need to wait 6 hours for my iced tea to brew?
Unfortunately, the best iced tea is a slow brewed iced tea - and 6 hours is the minimum for a cold brew; in fact, we highly recommend leaving it to brew for up to 12 hours!
However, if you find yourself in a rush or forget to prepare your iced tea the night before, it’s still possible to make iced tea in a hurry - it just won’t be cold brewed.
Instead of cold brewing the tea bags, the tea bags need to first be brewed in hot water (as if you were making a cup of hot tea!) The ingredients are the same as our recipe above, but you need to boil enough water for your pitcher and then brew the tea bags before transferring the tea to the pitcher once it’s cooled.
Once cooled, the pitcher then needs to go into the refrigerator still. Because the tea has already been brewed, you only need to leave it for around 2 hours. While this method is quicker, the results aren’t quite as delicious. The slower, cold brewing process allows the flavors to be retained as they slowly release - boiling the tea bag ruins this process but is admittedly rapid!
What tea bags are best for iced tea?
This recipe works well with almost all tea bags, but we suggest using a type of tea that you enjoy, of course. The cold brew process accentuates the flavors, so pick the one you like the most for this process!
You can open up tea bags or use loose leaf tea for the same results. Either way, you need to strain the iced tea before serving. To avoid the need for straining, you can keep the tea leaves in the tea bags, but the taste isn’t quite as good.
While regular black tea is lovely, don’t forget that this recipe works well with many other flavors and varieties of teas. Try herbal teas, green tea, and fruity teas for a unique tasting iced tea!
How to make iced tea good for you
Iced tea, like regular tea, has several great benefits. Overall, this is a healthy drink to enjoy, particularly if you are preparing it with zero sugar or minimal sugar. If you do enjoy your tea sweetened, we suggest trying out natural sweeteners such as agave syrup or maple syrup, rather than regular, refined sugar, which is heavily processed.
Of course, as with anything in life, moderation is key to iced tea drinking. To inspire your iced tea drinking efforts, here are a few key benefits to tea drinking:
- Iced tea is not only refreshing but hydrating as well (much more so than a hot mug of tea.)
- Iced tea can lower blood pressure.
- Iced tea can lower your stress levels and help to relax you.
- Iced tea is packed full of antioxidants.
- Unsweetened iced tea won’t cause tooth decay or cavities (it’s so much healthier than a can of sugary pop!)
- Iced tea helps boost your metabolism, leading to increased weight loss when combined with regular exercise.
- Iced tea contains caffeine, a stimulant that can wake you up and improve concentration.
Iced tea: The drinks are ready!
Now that you know how to make perfect iced tea, it’s time to start brewing this deliciously refreshing drink at home.
As well as the basic black tea bag and water combination, you can get creative by trying out a few herbal teas or add a few sumptuous extras such as mint leaves, cucumber, or lemon slices.
If you’re looking for a hydrating, cold drink, then why not prepare a cold brew iced tea, the slow and best way?