Cold Brew Iced Tea – a new and improved way to make that favorite standard


from left to right: 1)Choice Organic Mango Ceylon Tea (a Seattle company!), 2)Stash Pomegranate raspberry green tea, 3) traditional Medicines Just for kids Organic Nighty Night linden, chamomile, and hibiscus tea (this one is what Simon drinks), 4) Tazo Berryblossom White tea (blueberry and white cranberry).

I heard about this ice tea method on the Splendid Table and I just had to try it for myself. I am a BIG tea fan (at any given time I have upwards of 60 different verities of tea on hand) and I drink hot tea all the time (even in the summer) but sometimes you just want a cold drink.  Growing up my mom made iced tea all the time. The standard Lipton – a huge pot of boiling water, 5 tea bags, 1/3 cup of sugar and then top the rest of the pitcher off with cold water and chill.  It doesn’t get more basic then that… actually it does.  You don’t even need to use hot water to make tea.  All you need is 2 teaspoons of tea per quart of water (or about 2 tea bags if you are not using loose tea), put the water and tea in some sort of container and refrigerate overnight. In the morning you have great cold brew iced tea. Yes, it really works. I know a lot of people are familiar with sun tea, where you let the tea bags sit in water out in the sun all day. The sun tea method is a great way to grow lots of bacteria (can you say Petri dish). Really, you don’t need the sun you just need time.  I have always been in the mindset that to make iced tea you need to make a huge pitcher of it. For me the best part about this method is that it has totally freed me from this mentality. I can make a quart or 2 of whatever flavor I feel like  – I don’t have to make a huge pitcher.  I just throw a couple tea bags in a quart mason jar with some water.

Also did you know that it’s actually possible to scald the tealeaves when you make tea by using water that is too hot? Green teas and white teas are especial susceptible to being scalded and should actually be brewed at lower temperatures than black or oolong teas. Have you ever thought that a green or white tea tasted terribly sharp and harsh? Most likely the tea was scalded when being brewed. The cold brew method is perfect for these more fragile teas. The flavor comes out amazing – so smooth and sweet. It also brings out a lot more of the fruit tones in the tea.

And what about sweetener?
Obviously it’s a lot harder to dissolve sugar into cold tea so what if you want to use the cold brew method but have sweet tea?
Honestly I try to avoid drinking too many of my calories but if you want sweet tea I highly recommend you try agave syrup. A sweetener made from the agave plant. Incidentally the same plant used to make tequila. It’s a syrup and dissolves pretty much instantly into liquids.  It’s also very low on the glycemic index (it’s a 27 and standard table sugar is 92) which means that it doesn’t give you that sugar rush that typical Sucrose or High Fructose Corn Syrup gives you. The light or raw varieties of agave also have a very mild neutral flavor and is perfect for sweetening tea. Thank you Chanda for introducing me to agave syrup. You can purchase it as most health food stores as well as Trader Joe’s.

And for those of you who still want to make hot tea here are the ideal steeping temperatures for the 4 main varieties.

White: 185-195°F
Green: 165-185°F
Oolong: 212°F
Black: 212°F


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  1. Ooo, the pomegranate one looks so delicious. Thank you for the tips. I really like tea in the summer. Oh, and we’ve recently started using agave syrup on our pancakes, didn’t think about using it as a sweetner. Awesome.

  2. corinne wiseman

    Thanks! I was wondering how I would be able to make tea in my dorm room next year and this is definitely doable.

  3. Kay Weaver

    I was skeptical about this method but was totally pleased with the outcome and agave syrup is a very good sweetener.