How to Make the Best Iced Tea (Cold Brew It!)
The secret to the perfect iced tea is to cold brew it. Step-by-step directions on how to cold brew tea at home that’s simple and easy.
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Cold Brewing is THE Secret to the Very Best Iced Tea
To make iced tea, I used to steep tea in hot water then pour ice and cold water into a pitcher. Sometimes the tea would be bitter and I would need to add sugar.
Little did I realize that the tea was bitter because I was steeping it for too long in boiling hot water to make it a concentrate. I just figured that’s how some iced tea tasted.
Oh boy, was I wrong.
Let me tell you about cold brewing tea. It’s how you should ALWAYS make iced tea. It’s so so good and it’s a complete game changer.
I like to make about 2-3 day’s worth at a time (two tall weck jars). Every couple of days, I’ll start a new batch so that it’s ready once I’ve finished the previous batch.
What I Used to Make Cold Brew Tea
- Loose leaf tea
Any kind of tea, but oolong tea makes an amazing cold brew.
- Mesh strainer
To filter out the tea leaves.
- Tall Weck jars
Or a pitcher to steep and store the cold brewed tea. Use an iced tea maker to make thing easier.
To measure out the loose tea leaves.
- Glass cups
I serve the cold brew with or without ice cubes.
Cold Brew Tea is the Best Iced Tea
- Cold-brewing tea is a slow and gentle steeping process that creates a sweeter and smoother tasting tea.
- Tannins, which can make tea bitter or astringent, aren’t steeped out of the tea in cold water the way it does in hot water. No more harsh or bitterness in your iced tea anymore!
- Because cold brewing doesn’t involve heating up anything on the stovetop, it’s nice and easy to make in the hot summer months.
- Making cold brew tea is also the fool-proof way of making iced tea. You can cold steep it for 8 hours or 20, it’ll still be delicious.
Cold Brewed Tea and Caffeine
There’s less caffeine in a cold brew tea (about half) than tea steeped in hot water. Good news — you can drink more of it without getting super jittery.
Cold Brew Formula
The recipe for a cold brewed iced tea is more of a ratio since it just has two ingredients — water and tea.
The ratio for cold brew is 1 1/2 teaspoons of loose leaf tea (or 1 heaping teaspoon) to one cup of water. It doesn’t need to be precise and you can adjust if you like stronger or weaker tea.
If you’re using tea bags, you can use at 2-3 tea bags or 1 sachet per cup of water.
Best Tea to Cold Brew
The best tea to cold brew is Taiwanese oolong tea like formosa oolong. I love oolong cold brews and once you try brewing it yourself, you’ll see why. It’s a little sweet, flavorful, and never harsh.
Here are my recommended of other teas to cold brew.
Loose Tea or Tea Bags to Cold Brew?
If you’ve only used tea bags for iced tea, you’re missing out! The loose leaf cold brewed teas are so much better.
Loose tea in general is a much better quality tea than what you’ll find in tea bags.
Loose tea is a whole tea leaf. You can see the actual tea leaf after it has been steeped and unfurled. You get the most essential oils and aroma from a loose tea therefore it’s a better and more complex tasting tea.
Due to it’s high quality, loose tea can be steeped multiple times. It costs more than tea bags but you can cold brew it more than once.
Tea bags on the other hand are bits and pieces of broken tea leaves, filled with ‘tea dust.’ Tea bags are a lot less flavorful and are usually a lot bitter than loose tea.
Low quality teas are what’s used in tea bags so it’s a lot less expensive.
Because loose tea is a better and more flavorful tea, I prefer it in cold brews than tea bags.
Cold Brew Tea Tips
- Make and store your tea in glass containers.
- I like to use these tall Weck jars so that I can strain out tea from one jar to another.
- Adding ice when serving the cold brew is optional. When it’s super hot out, I’ll add some ice to keep it colder longer but usually I don’t add ice at all to the cold brew.
- If adding a sweetener, use simple syrup since sugar and honey can be hard to incorporate completely.
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