Thursday, May 26, 2011

How to Make Iced Tea

Iced tea is actually surprisingly simple to make from scratch. Depending on which part of the country (or world) you live in, making iced tea might be a no-brainer. I'll admit, though, I had NO IDEA how to make iced tea (other than mixing a packet of Lipton into water in a pitcher) until I worked at Starbucks in college. The great thing about it, too, is that you can make one glass or a whole pitcher for roughly the same amount of work.

It's also really affordable to make yourself instead of buying powdered drink mixes or jugs of pre-made stuff from the store. In fact, it cost me less than $0.40 to make an entire 8 cup pitcher of organic iced green tea sweetened with organic sugar...and I didn't even buy any of the supplies on sale! If you were to maximize sales or even make unsweetened tea, you'd spend even less.

How to Make Iced Tea 101

Step 1: Pick out your container
It can be a pitcher or an individual glass. I recommended a glass container because plastic containers are more likely to leach toxins when exposed to hot liquids or extreme temperature changes. If you're not already sure how many ounces are in your container, make sure you measure to find out.

Step 2: Heat up some water
You'll want to heat up about a quarter of the amount of the total water your container holds. My pitcher holds 8 cups, so I warmed up 2 cups of water. Throw it in the microwave or heat it up in a pot on the stove. The amount doesn't have to be exact, just make sure you heat the water in a different container than you're going to use for your finished tea.

Step 3: Prep the teabags
While your water is working on coming to a boil, get your teabags ready. If you've got individually wrapped teabags, unwrap them and remove any strings or paper attached to the bags. You'll want one teabag for every 8-12 ounces of finished tea. My pitcher hold 8 cups (64 ounces) so I used 7 teabags (so a 1 bag to 9 ounce ratio). If you're planning to serve the finished tea over ice you'll want a smaller ratio (1:8) instead of the higher 1:12 ratio.

Step 4: Steep the tea
Once your water is done boiling, remove from heat and add your teabags.  Set your timer based on the kind of tea you are making. The packaging your tea came in, should tell you which kind it is. If it says "Darjeeling" or "Oolong", those are kinds of black teas.
Tea Steeping times
White Tea: 1-1.5 minutes
Green Tea: 3 minutes
Black Tea, Herbal Tea or Fruit Tea: 5 minutes

Step 5: Finish Steeping / Sweeten the Tea
Once your timer goes off, remove the teabags, pressing them against the side of your container to squeeze any extra tea out that was trapped in the bag.  If you're going to sweeten your tea, do it now. For slightly sweet tea, I add about 1 teaspoon of sugar per bag used. Add more or less to suit your tastes. You can also sweeten with agave, honey or stevia. If you added sweetener, mix well until dissolved.

Step 6: Fill your serving vessel with ice
Fill the container you want your tea to end up in with ice all (or at least most) of the way

Step 7: Ice the tea
Pour your hot tea directly over the ice in your pitcher. Add cold water until full.

That's it!
Stir your tea to finish cooling and serve right away or put in the fridge for later.

Now you can serve fresh iced tea to guests for summer parties and BBQs and look like the hostess with the mostest.  Enjoy!


  1. thanks for sharing! i don't like iced tea or drink it, so when we have gatherings i always ask friends to bring it since i don't even know where to begin- so this is a huge help!

  2. I have always made iced tea in my coffee maker. Add the teabags where you usually put the coffee grounds and then run a pot of water like you would for coffee. Works perfectly every time!

  3. Have you made sun-tea before? its seriously the best tea ever. I don't know what the sun does to it but its the best. Take a pitcher. Put a few bags of tea in the water and set it outside for a few hours (or minutes depending on where you live:P) Thats it! And its so good. Its always perfectly steeped. :)


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