Is there anything at all more refreshing than iced tea on a hot day? It couldn’t be easier to make and the flavors you can create are infinite! Plus, you have the added benefit that cold brewed iced tea isn’t bitter at all. Hot water draws out the bitterness in tea, whereas cold brewing it keeps the flavor mellow, light, and refreshing. Iced tea has a very special place in my heart. When I was a child, there was always a pitcher of it in the fridge and it is what my mother filled my thermos with when she packed my lunch box. Many, many a snack time was washed down with some refreshing tea. I had a particular fondness for that ultra-sweet sweet tea, which is really nothing more than tea with a ton of sugar in it to make it go down nice and smooth. Soon, of course, I discovered the wonderful beverage known as the Arnold Palmer– nothing more than a mixture of half lemonade and half unsweetened iced tea.
I never sweeten my iced tea anymore and rarely add sweetener to my coffee, for that matter. My lack of sweetness is largely a result of making cold brewed iced tea. As I said earlier, hot water draws out the chemicals that make tea bitter or tangy. Leaving the tea to soak in cold water only brings out the flavor, leaving the bitterness behind. It’s also a more aesthetic way to make your iced tea– if you chill tea that has been heated you end up with a cloudy beverage, whereas cold brewed iced tea stays translucent.
As my mother probably knew that kids almost always love iced tea and a great way to keep them hydrated. To this day, I still keep a pitcher filled with it in my own fridge, waiting whenever I am feeling thirsty.
Perfect Cold Brewed Iced Tea
Rather than including a recipe for a particular amount I’ve included the proportions you’ll need. Black tea and green tea brew with the same way, but herbal teas need one extra step. To get the most flavor out of herbal teas fill one large cup with boiling water and dip each herbal tea bag in the hot water for a few seconds before putting it in your pitcher– the hot water gets them started and helps them release their flavor easier.
- one cup of cold water
- 1 heaped teaspoon of black or green tea leaves
- OR one herbal tea bag dipped quickly in hot water
- OR one teabag
For as many cups of tea as you’d like to make, put in the equivalent amount of tea leaves or tea bags. Add in the measured-out cold water. I like my iced tea on the stronger side, so normally I top off a pitcher with an additional teabag or two. Chill in the fridge for 5-12 hours. Scoop out the teabags or pour the tea through a strainer to get all the leaves out. And that’s it! Keep chilled and enjoy!
If you’d like to sweeten it, first, taste it, add in sugar or honey as needed, and then stir to make sure it is all dissolved and not concentrated at the bottom. Lemon juice, lime juice, and fresh herbs are all delicious additions, as well. A few of my favorite combinations are blackcurrant herbal tea + green tea, Earl Grey tea + lemon juice, and green tea + fresh mint. Enjoy!