Iced Tea

In my personal and professional opinion, the proper way to make iced tea is by cold steeping.  Making hot tea and cooling it down will nearly always warp the tea’s flavors, lose much of its sweetness and bright aromatic notes, and result in a cloudy astringent drink that is anything but refreshing – this is why most iced tea will use a traditional cheat, such as baking soda or boiling water, or be heavily sweetened.  To me, iced tea must be, above all, refreshing.  Cold steeping is the best way to achieve that.

Unlike bottled iced tea, homemade iced tea has no chemicals in it to keep it “fresh” for an unnatural amount of time.  You should drink your tea within 2-3 days.  Never continue to drink tea that develops an “off” flavor or exhibits any bacterial growth, usually visible as a thin film on the surface of the tea.

Print Recipe
Iced Tea
Prep Time 5 minutes
Passive Time 8-24 hours
Servings
quarts
Ingredients
  • 2 quarts cold water
  • 48 grams tea leaves (for regular red tea only - please see Notes below for all tea types!)
Prep Time 5 minutes
Passive Time 8-24 hours
Servings
quarts
Ingredients
  • 2 quarts cold water
  • 48 grams tea leaves (for regular red tea only - please see Notes below for all tea types!)
Instructions
  1. You'll need an extremely clean glass or plastic jug/container with a tight-fitting cap. Place the tea leaves in the jug/container and fill with clean, cool water, and cover tightly. (Please see Notes, below, for the amount of tea to use.)
  2. Leave the jug/container in the refrigerator (in the door is best) or in a cool dark dry place in your home for the recommended steeping time (please see Notes, below). Do not stir or agitate.
  3. When the steeping time is complete, strain the tea as thoroughly as possible, by pouring it through an extremely fine mesh filter, or even a coffee filter or paper towel. Filter your tea as many times as you need until you cannot see any tea solids (dust-like particles of tea leaves) in it at all.
  4. Return the liquor (the beverage) to a clean jug/container, and add fresh cold water to get it back up to 2 quarts (replacing the water lost to the tea leaves). Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, serve over ice. To sweeten your tea, use simple syrup - sugar doesn't work as well.
  5. Protip: pour some iced tea into an ice cube tray and make 'iced tea cubes'. This way your drink won't get weak as the ice melts. You can also get creative and make Rosehip ice cubes for Lychee iced tea - go crazy!
Recipe Notes
  1. The table below shows the amount of tea leaves to use, and the proper steeping time, for the various classes of teas.
  2. These instructions are for icing real tea only - not herbal teas (tisanes)!  I will eventually add an Iced Herbal Tea recipe, I swear.
  3. These instructions will not work for teas that have non-plant ingredients, like Genmaicha or Masala Chai.  These are difficult to make into iced tea and require special methods.
Grams Hours
Red Tea 48g (~1.7 oz.) 24h
Green Tea 36g (~1.3 oz.) 8h
—Hojicha 40g (~1.4 oz.) 8h
— Sencha 42g (~1.5 oz.) 8h
Oolong Tea 36g (~1.3 oz.) 12h
White Tea 36g (~1.3 oz.) 12h
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