Make homemade Iced tea, like the cold and sweetened tea served at restaurants! Ice tea is a chilled drink made from orange pekoe black tea that is sometimes flavored with lemon and served sweet or unsweetened. Find out how to make iced tea in 3 ways using tea bags and with the best shortcuts!
Skip bottled Arizona and brisk iced tea and make your favorite brewed black ice tea for a fraction of the cost! Homemade juice, iced coffee, or Vanilla Ice cream are great summer ideas to cool your guests down! This iced tea recipe is refreshing any time of year!
What Is Iced Tea?
Ice tea is a chilled drink made from orange pekoe black tea that is sometimes flavored with lemon and served sweet or unsweetened. Iced tea can be made with a coffee maker, stockpot, or water kettle. Although an ice tea maker can be used to cold brew ice tea, hot brewing is the traditional way to make tea.
Making iced tea can be fast! I’m sharing all the shortcuts and tips to make the Best Iced Tea! You can brew tea, the old-fashioned way with a pot, or even quicker way by running your tea bags through a coffee maker! The ice cube vs iced tea technique is genius! You can serve ice tea instantly by filling a pitcher full of ice and then pouring the hot concentrate over it to chill immediately. Typically, you would have to cool down the concentrate with cold water and chill in order to serve so this is a HUGE shortcut to serving iced tea instantly instead of waiting for it to cool down!
This iced tea recipe is perfect for summer gatherings or as a supper drink to complete your meal! Here in Southern South Carolina, you’ll see this sweet drink around many eateries. Enjoy it with Cheese Burgers on Homemade Hamburger Buns or with a side of a hearty Grilled Chicken Sandwich! Everyone loves iced tea and you can buy them decaffeinated or with caffeine! It’s so easy to make and my daughter can make ice tea any time of day! Once you make sweet tea a few times, you’ll be a pro!
Ingredients for Iced Tea:
Lipton Iced tea or Lipton tea bags from black tea is the tea of choice for classic ice tea. You’ll need an orange pekoe tea which is basically a high-quality black tea made from young leaves. Boxed iced tea varieties come in this distinctive flavor, however, any Lipton black tea will have this exclusive flavor of Pekoe also.
- Black Tea: with pekoe flavors is key to that classic iced tea taste. Look for orange pekoe on the ingredients of your tea box.
- Sweetener: granulated sugar, honey, maple syrup, agave syrup, and natural sugar like Sucanat sugar can be used to sweeten ice tea.
- Ice: ice cubes in ice tea are crucial! Ice can also dilute the concentrate without the addition of water and can chill the drink in no time.
How Many Tea Bags?
Wondering how many tea bags for a gallon of iced tea or maybe 2 quarts? Iced tea bags come in different sizes and can be made from regular tea bags, gallon tea bags, and family-size tea bags. I’m sharing all the tips and secrets to the perfect gallon pitcher of sweet tea no matter what size tea bag you want to use! To make 2 quarts simply halve the recipe! For 1 gallon of iced tea use these tea bag amounts and look for labeled iced tea brands or Lipton black tea to begin.
- Regular Tea Bags: brew 12 tea bags in 12 cups of boiling water then add another 12 cups of cold water to make a gallon.
- Family Size Tea Bags: brew 3 family-sized tea bags in 12 cups of boiling water and then add another 12 cups of cold water to make a gallon.
- Gallon-Sized Iced Tea Bags: brew 1 pouch in 12 cups of hot water and add the same amount of cold water to make a gallon.
- Loose-leaf Tea: a gallon pouch weighs about 30 grams, this is roughly around 1/3 cup of loose leaf tea that you will need to make for a gallon of iced tea. To brew simply steep the loose leaf tea in boiling water then strain the tea leaves using a fine-mesh sieve before proceeding with the recipe directions.
Note: to sweeten tea add the sugar to the brewed tea immediately after steeping.
How To Brew Iced Tea:
Wondering how to make iced tea with tea bags? I did the math and weighed the loose tea from a gallon-sized pouch of iced tea to ensure consistent results. That means you can make the perfect gallon pitcher of tea no matter what size tea bags you use! Iced tea is super easy to make with simple no fuss ingredients. If you fill your 1-gallon pitcher with ice you can skip adding the cold water and just pour the hot concentrate over the hard ice.
- Brew Tea: Use a coffee maker, saucepan, or kettle. Add tea bags to 12 cups of boiling water and steep for 3-5 minutes. A coffee maker makes this so easy! Remove the tea bags after the steeping time so the tea doesn’t turn bitter.
- Sweeten the Tea: in the warm water to easily dissolve the sugar granules.
- Add the Cold Water: to the hot tea to quickly chill. Refrigerate until cool.
- Serve over a filled glass of ice and garnish the cup with lemon slices or fresh mint.
Storing Iced Tea:
Does iced tea need to be refrigerated? How long can it last and does it go bad? To make ahead, Iced tea concentrate can be kept in the fridge for up to 4-5 days then you can dilute it with ice or cold water. Generally, when sweet iced tea is made it can last for days in the fridge if unflavored with lemon or herbs. Allowing the tea to sit in lemon rinds will only make the tea bitter after 8 hours.
To make iced green tea you would follow the same concept using 3 standard green tea bags. Making iced tea is easy! Once you ace black iced tea you can experiment with herbal iced tea, mint tea, or fruity teas (passion fruit or peach!) Also, an even mixture of Iced tea and lemonade is a great variation! Here are infused flavors that can bump up the taste to a regular iced tea mix!
- Raspberry Iced Tea: To make raspberry syrup boil together 4 cups raspberries, 1 cup sugar, and 1 cup of water. Cook for 10 minutes then strain and add to tea.
- Peach Iced Tea: make a peach syrup by boiling 4 fresh peaches, 2 cups of sugar, 2 cups of water, and 1 Tbsp of lemon juice. When soft, puree or mash and continue to cook for 5-10 minutes. Press through a fine sieve and add to the iced tea.
- Passion Fruit Iced Tea: add 2 oz of passion fruit syrup to iced tea.
- Ice Lemon Tea: add 1 1/2 cups of fresh lemon juice and 1/2 cup more sugar.
- Strawberry Iced Tea: add 2 oz of strawberry syrup.
Tip: for decaf iced tea, look for decaffeinated black tea. Keep in mind all syrups are sweetened so begin with less sugar and then gradually add more.
My original recipe was for 2 quarts of iced tea (4c. iced tea concentrate and 4c. water that I mixed with 3/4 c. sugar.) I find the gallon-size portion much handier as it can keep for days in the fridge if unflavored with lemon or fresh herbs.
Is Iced Tea Healthy?
Is iced tea good for you? Fresh-brewed Iced tea does have health benefits and doesn’t dehydrate like coffee when drinking decaf. Tea is packed with antioxidants when made from dried crushed leaves. Healthy fresh fruit or herbs can easily infuse and flavor tea with the option of healthy sweeteners.
Does Iced Tea Have Caffeine?
How much caffeine, is in iced tea will depend on the brand and labeling. Typically, black tea will say whether it’s decaf. A package of regular Lipton black tea does contain anywhere from 31-70 mg of caffeine.
What is Thai Iced Tea?
Thai iced tea is a concentrated black tea made with spices like star anise, crushed tamarind, cardamom, or Thai tea powder mix. Generally, it’s sweetened with condensed milk (or evaporated milk) which gives it that iced coffee look.
Best Iced Tea Tips:
- To make iced tea fast, simply fill an ice tea pitcher with ice and pour the hot concentrate over the ice. This chills the tea without the need of adding cold water.
- Try making iced tea lemonade by whisking half iced tea and half lemonade together.
- Use filtered water to operate a coffee machine and when steeping the tea. You don’t want off odors that can hinder the tea taste.
- Prolong the storage of iced tea by adding the lemon slices or herbs to a single serving of tea rather than a whole pitcher. The peels from the lemon can turn the tea bitter very quickly.
- Iced tea can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 1 week if ungarnished. Make sure you use a pitcher with a lid and sealable spout to keep all the fridge smells out.
- Make honey iced tea by using a healthy sweetener in the place of sugar. Use 1 cup of honey for a gallon of iced tea.
- Unsweetened iced tea can be flavored with fresh fruits like raspberry or berries that are full of antioxidants.
- Experiment with different flavored fruit powders instead of flavored syrups. Simply dissolve it into the hot water when adding a sweetener.
- Add fresh ginger or ginger powder for an extra boost.
- Freeze iced tea concentrate that you can easily dilute with water later!
- Fill your cup with ice to the rim before adding iced tea. Iced tea is best cold and cool.
- Mason jars make the best-iced tea glasses.
- When serving, garnish with a fresh mint leaf and lemon slices!
- You don’t need an iced tea brewer to brew iced tea! This recipe for iced tea is made extra easy using simple kitchen equipment!
How To Make Iced Tea:
Iced Tea Recipe
- 1 coffee maker or pot (to brew tea)
- 1 gallon pitcher
- 12 black tea bags* (orange pekoe black tea)
- 24 cups of water (divided)
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- Brew tea bags in 12 cups of boiling water. Steep for 5 minutes. Do this by bringing water to a boil then adding the tea bags or using a coffee maker.
- Remove tea bags and whisk in the sugar until dissolved.
- Stir in 12 cups of cold water and cool the mixture in the fridge.**(Shortcut below.)
- Pour tea over a glass of ice and serve.
- NOTE: to make iced tea fast, omit adding the cold water and fill a one-gallon pitcher of ice. Pour the hot tea concentrate over the ice.
- This Iced Tea Recipe makes 1 gallon of tea.
- **Use 12 standard tea bags*, 3 family-size tea bags, or a 1-gallon pouch tea bag, to make one gallon of iced tea. Tea bags come in different sizes but either one will make perfect iced tea or use 1/3 cup of any loose-leaf black tea.
- For 2 Quarts of Tea: halve the recipe by brewing 6 tea bags in 4 cups of boiling water. Add 3/4 cup sugar and 4 more cups of cold water.
- Healthy Sweetener: omit the sugar and add 1 cup of honey.
Nutrition per serving