How to Make the Perfect Basic Iced Tea at Home (It's so easy!)

Easy iced tea recipe for making ice tea at home
If you want to learn how to make iced tea at home, you are in the right place!

Iced tea is surprisingly easy to make from scratch.

I'll admit that I had NO IDEA how to make iced tea until I worked at Starbucks in college. Which was, ahem, a while ago.

Before I knew the secret for how to make iced tea at home, I thought if you wanted iced tea at home that you had to mix powdered tea mix into water or buy a gallon of ready-made tea.

The great thing about this iced tea recipe is that you can make one glass of iced tea or a whole pitcher of ice tea for roughly the same amount of work. So make a big container! It will last for a few days (if you don't drink it all before then!).

If you have been making iced tea from powdered drink mix or buying gallons of Arizona iced tea at the store because you didn't know how to make it at home, I'm about to blow your mind!

Just want to get the recipe without getting all the helpful hints and step-by-step photos? Then scroll all the way down to the bottom where you will find a printable recipe card without all the chatter!

I can teach you how to make iced coffee at home, too!

Ready to have your mind blown even more? Learn how to make iced coffee and iced lattes using my easy at-home recipe!

Get the recipe:

How to Make Iced Tea Fast at Home

DIY Homemade unsweetened iced tea

Homemade Iced Tea Ingredients

  • Teabags or loose leaf tea
    (you will need 1 teabag or 1 tsp loose tea for every 8 ounces of finished tea you want)
    This works with ANY kind of tea! Black tea, green tea, Rooibos, and herbal teas are all great.
  • Water
  • Lemon* (if desired)
  • Sugar* or sweetener (if desired)
*Creative Green Living recommends purchasing these ingredients as organic where available to avoid GMOs, pervasive pesticides and/or questionable farming practices.

Equipment needed to make iced tea

I have seen all kinds of fancy iced tea brewing devices sold online but the truth is that you don't need any of that. What you DO need:

What tea is used for iced tea?

The technique I am about to teach you to make the perfect batch of iced tea fast can use any kind of tea that you have on hand!

Black tea is the kind of tea most commonly used to make restaurant iced tea or sweet tea in most parts of the USA.

Here is some more information about different kinds of tea you can use to make iced tea using this recipe:

Black Tea

Black tea is the most common kind of tea used to make iced tea (and sweet tea) in most parts of the USA. It is made by oxidizing tea leaves, which makes them shelf-stable enough to last for years.

Black tea usually has about 50mg of caffeine per serving.

If you want to have a basic, traditional iced tea try making this recipe with one of these teas:

Green Tea

Green tea is the leaves and buds from a tea plant that have not been oxidized and processed like black tea has. Green tea is also the base for matcha, which is dry green tea that has been ground to a fine powder. 

Iced green tea has a lighter flavor than most black teas and makes excellent iced tea.

Green tea has 30-50mg of caffeine per cup.

Try one of these kinds of green tea for making iced green tea:
White tea is very delicate and makes some of the most subtle but delicious iced tea! White tea has that name because the tea plant tips are picked before the leaves unfurl, while they still have little white hairs on them.

I especially like white tea combined with floral or fruit flavors that won't overpower its delicate flavors.

White tea is very low in caffeine - usually less than 5 mg of caffeine per cup.

If you want to make iced tea with white tea, here are some of my favorites to try:

Flavored Teas for Iced Tea

As I mentioned above, this technique really works for all kinds of tea, including flavored teas! These are some of my favorite flavors of tea to turn into iced tea:

Herbal Tea

While herbal teas are not officially "tea" since they don't come from the tea plant, lots of yummy herbal tea mixes make delightful iced tea. 

Try one of these tasty herbal teas prepared as an iced tea using my method:

Is iced tea healthy?

Like a lot of things, how much a beverage like tea supports your health depends on how you prepare it!

To avoid causing spikes in your blood sugar or overtaxing your liver, your healthiest approach to tea will be to drink it unsweetened. When you have a really delicious flavor of tea, you shouldn't need sweetener anyway!

If you have become accustomed to drinking sweet tea, you may need to slowly taper off how much sugar you put in your tea to help your tastebuds transition to drinking unsweetened tea.

You can also try adding a pinch of the herb, stevia, to your tea as you brew it. Unlike stevia extracts, true herbal stevia (the leaves from the stevia plant) add sweetness without any weird bitterness or aftertaste.

Is iced tea healthier than soda?

There are two big health concerns with soda: first the sugar or artificial sweetener content. Second is the caramel coloring or other food colorings used.

If you find a variety of tea that you can enjoy without adding sugar, your body will thank you for not drinking empty calories or flooding it with artificial colors. The antioxidant content of tea also makes your body happy.

Increased tea consumption is also linked to lower incidence of heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

Is iced tea caffeinated?

The caffeine content of tea will vary based on the variety of tea used. Here are some general guidelines for how much caffeine is in different varieties of tea:
  • Black tea (about 50 mg per serving)
  • Green tea (30-50 mg per serving)
  • White tea (3-5 mg per serving
  • Herbal tea (generally caffeine-free)

How to Make Iced Tea from Hot Tea Directions:

How to make fresh unsweetened iced tea quickly

HOW TO MAKE ICED TEA STEP 1: Get everything ready

Supplies that you need to make iced tea - ice, glasses, straws, pot, tea

Get everything ready to go.

You'll need:
Choosing an iced tea pitcher:

I recommended a glass iced tea pitcher or dispenser container because most plastic containers contain hormone-disrupting chemicals that can leach out when exposed to heat, acid or liquid.

If you are not already sure how many ounces of liquid your container holds, go ahead and measure that now.

HOW TO MAKE ICED TEA STEP 2: Heat the water

Boil about a quarter of the amount of the total water your container holds.

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.

My pitcher holds 8 cups, so I warmed up 2 cups of water.

Use a tea kettle or a plain old 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.


While your water is working on coming to a boil, get your teabags or loose tea ready.

If you are using individually wrapped tea bags, unwrap them and remove any strings or paper attached to the bags and place them in a heat proof container like a heavy duty glass measuring cup.

You'll want one teabag for every 8 ounces of water your final container holds.

If you prefer to use loose tea, scoop 1 level teaspoon of tea for every 8 ounces of water your container holds.

Put the loose tea in a heat proof container like a large metal or glass measuring cup.

HOW TO MAKE ICED TEA STEP 4: Steep the tea

Once your water is done boiling, pour the hot water over the tea bags or loose tea in the heat proof container you put them in.

Set a timer in your kitchen based on the kind of tea you chose.

If you aren't sure, check the packaging. If it says "Darjeeling" or "Oolong", those are kinds of black teas. If it doesn't say, go with the time for black tea.

Once the timer goes off, use a spoon to remove the tea bags from the hot tea. If you used loose leaf tea, pour the tea through a strainer to remove the tea leaves.

HOW TO MAKE ICED TEA STEP 5: Sweeten if desired (optional)

I prefer to keep my tea unsweetened, but if you want to sweeten it before serving, now is the time. Add your sugar, honey, agave or stevia to the warm tea and mix until well dissolved.


We're almost done! Fill the container you want your tea to end up in with ice all (or at least most) of the way. 

Very carefully pour the hot tea over the ice.

Aim for the center of the ice and try not to have the hot tea touch the sides of the container as thermal shock could cause a glass container to crack.

After pouring the hot tea concentrate over the ice, top off the container with cold filtered water and give it a stir.

How to make basic iced tea at home

How to make iced tea from hot tea

That's it!

Pour the tea into a glass over ice. Add sliced lemons if desired. 
How to make iced tea at home

Do you like to drink your tea with a straw?
These biodegradable paper straws are great if you want a disposable option. 

This iced tea recipe works for any type of tea! 

Get the up-to-date list of some of my favorite teas I like to brew up as a delicious iced tea through the Creative Green Living page on Amazon.

Save this iced tea recipe to Pinterest:

How to make homemade iced tea. DIY your way to easy unsweetened tea at home. The recipe gives you options to make it both sweet or unsweet. This is the healthy way to make black tea, green tea or flavored iced tea. If it comes in a tea bag, you can make it into iced tea using this method!

Printable Simple Iced Tea Recipe

Basic Iced Tea

Basic Iced Tea

Yield: 8
prep time: 5 Mcook time: 5 Mtotal time: 10 M
Make easy and simple iced tea at home from hot tea using this recipe that work with black tea, green tea, white tea and herbal tea!


  • 4 cups filtered water, divided
  • 8 Teabags or 2 Tbsp + 2 tsp loose leaf tea
  • 6 cups ice
  • Lemon (optional, if desired)
  • Sugar or sweetener (optional, if desired)


How to cook Basic Iced Tea

  1. Bring 2 cups filtered water to a boil.
  2. Place tea bags (wrappers, strings and tags removed) or loose leaf tea in a heat proof container. Pour hot water over tea.
  3. Allow tea to steep (5 minutes for black tea, 3 minutes for green tea, 1 minute for white tea, 15 minutes for herbal tea).
  4. Fill pitcher with ice while tea is steeping.
  5. Remove tea bags from hot tea when steep time is done.
  6. Stir in sugar or sweetener to taste if desired while tea is still hot. Stir until dissolved.
  7. Pour hot tea into the center of the ice in the pitcher (pour through a strainer if using loose leaf tea).
  8. Top off pitcher with cold filtered water.
  9. Serve over ice and with lemon slices if desired.
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nutrition info is for unsweetened tea
how to make iced tea, basic iced tea, perfect iced tea, ice tea, DIY iced tea, how to make ice tea

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Looking for more healthy beverage options?

Learn how to make more healthy beverages that fit your gluten-free, paleo, keto or Whole30 lifestyle!

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Best keto and whole30 coffee recipes- how to make an iced latte.

Carissa Bonham

About the Author:

Carissa Bonham is a cookbook author and busy mom of two creative boys. The owner and lead writer at Creative Green Living, she has won multiple awards for her work on Creative Green Living including the "Best Green Lifestyle Blogger" award in 2019 from ShiftCon.

She is the author of the hardcover cookbook, Beautiful Smoothie Bowls, as well as the backyard chicken keeping guide: Proven Techniques for Keeping Healthy Chickens. Her recipes have been featured in Urban Farm Magazine and in several cookbooks where she was a contributing author. Follow her on PinterestInstagramTwitter or join the Creative Green Living Tribe on Facebook.
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  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. :)

  4. Fantastic information in an entertaining way! The blog gives so much insight into the subject matter that it does not only become quite easy to understand the concept but to implement it as well.

  5. this home perfect tea is best and i every time like this tea. click here:


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