While many of us enjoy the comfort of a hot cup of tea, especially during the cold winter months, it can be argued by many that the time for tea to shine is during the hot summer months when a tall glass of iced tea is the true definition of refreshing. We are not about to disagree.
As mentioned in our blog post on American tea traditions, where sweet iced tea is a staple of the South, nearly 85% of the tea drunk in the U.S. is iced. If you haven’t ever made your own iced tea at home, or even if you do but are looking to mix it up a little, here are some tips on making the perfect pitcher or glass of iced tea at home. All you need is tea, water, ice, optional add-ins, and a desire to experience ice-cold tealight!
We’ve updated and are resharing this July 2020 blog with some tips on how to make your best fresh-brewed iced tea, along with a refreshing iced tea cocktail recipe.
Method: Traditional Brew
You can brew any type of tea and turn it into iced tea. For a single glass, follow the brewing instructions on our Harney tins, using a teaspoon of loose-leaf tea in an infuser or a single sachet or tea bag, but cut the amount of water in half to create a concentrate. Add cold water and ice for a single glass of iced tea. Easy peasy teasy.
But why make a single glass when you can make a pitcher to store in your refrigerator or share with others? Our Fresh Brew Iced Teas come in pouches large enough to make a two-quart pitcher of tea. Simply steep in hot water, add cold water, refrigerate if you wish, add ice and enjoy!
Once you’ve made your tea, you get to dress it up any way you want. Like sweet tea? Add the sweetener of your choice. Fresh fruit to complement your tea is always a fun addition, so add a slice of lemon or lime, throw in some raspberries or blueberries, fresh mint leaves, maybe a cucumber slice, and a festive tiny umbrella!
As we recommend any time you make tea, use fresh, filtered water. Starting with good, clean water is the first step in making sure your brew is top-notch.
Method: Cold Brew
Cold brewing tea is just like cold brewing that other beverage people sometimes drink...the name (but not the beverage) is on the tip of our tongues… it’s a strange word, hard to remember… oh yes, coffee. That’s it.
Some people prefer cold brewing their iced tea as heat extracts more tannins, which is what can make tea bitter if improperly brewed. With the absence of heat, however, the tannins stay tucked away and you get a very smooth tea.
This method is also quite simple: add your loose-leaf tea, sachets or tea bags or our Fresh Brew Iced Tea pouches to room temperature or cold water in a pitcher and steep in the refrigerator for 6-12 hours. If you put loose-leaf tea directly in the pitcher without an infuser, you’ll need to then pour the tea through a fine mesh sieve or a strainer covered in cheesecloth or lined with a paper filter.
If you wish to create a concentrate, just use half the water, steep and add remaining cold water. A concentrate can be stored in a smaller container and used to prepare a single serving of iced tea, if you like. Again, remember to use filtered water for best results.
Your pitcher of tea will keep in the refrigerator for several days. To ensure that it stays fresh, make sure your pitcher has a lid or is covered so other sneaky fridge odors don’t contaminate it. KINTO LUCE carafe is the perfect way to prepare and store cold-brew iced tea and has a built-in filter which makes using loose-leaf tea even easier.
Method: Sun Tea
A staple for many of us growing up -- the big jar with a lid sitting on the back porch table soaking up the summer sun and slowly changing color as the tea steeped -- making sun tea is now highly discouraged even by the CDC.
The reason? Sun tea will not get hotter than 130 degrees Fahrenheit, which is not hot enough to kill bacteria in the water or in the tea leaves. In addition, sun tea often sits around at room temperature for long periods of time, which further gives the bacteria a chance to multiply. Harney & Sons, along with the CDC and the National Tea Association recommend brewing tea at higher temps that kill any potentially harmful bacteria.
So while you perhaps have drunk sun tea and never gotten ill, it’s better not to risk it when there are all these other perfectly safe, convenient ways to make iced tea. Perhaps not as nostalgic, but safer. Go out and catch some fireflies. That’s still safe.
You Brew You!
Whichever method you choose, we hope you take the time to enjoy the time-honored tradition of enjoying an ice-cold glass of tea in the summer. Ready for an iced tea cocktail? We thought you might be!