Cold Brew Tea: What It is & How to Make It Properly

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The secret to making the best iced tea is to cold brew it, steeping tea in cold water for a few hours. Get tips and step-by-step directions on how to make refreshing cold brew tea at home from a Tea Sommelier.

Bottles of cold brewed tea.

What is Cold Brew Tea?

  • Cold brewing is a slow and gentle process where tea steeps in water for hours in the refrigerator. Cold brew tea makes absolutely the best iced tea. It’s also the easiest way to make iced tea, but it does take several hours.
  • Cold brewing makes a sweeter, smoother tasting tea since tannins, which make tea bitter, aren’t steeped out of the tea in cold water the way it does in hot water. This means no more bitter iced tea!
  • Because cold brewing doesn’t involve hot water, it’s perfect to make in the hot summer months.

Love iced tea? Try making my Raspberry Iced Tea, Peach Iced Tea, Lemon Iced Tea, and Thai Iced Tea.

For a quick overview, see the cold brew tea web story.

Ingredient Notes

Cold brew iced tea ingredients.
  • Loose tea or tea sachets
    Any and all kinds of tea can be cold brewed.
  • Water
    Use filtered water for a better tasting cold brewed tea.
My Glass Container Pick

Photo Credit: williams-sonoma.com

In the summer, I fill these Weck jars with all different kinds of iced tea.
SEE PRICE ON WILLIAMS SONOMA

Step-by-Step Instructions

Two photo collage showing steps to make cold brewed tea.

For complete brewing guide, full ingredients, and instructions, scroll to the bottom.

  1. Put tea and water in a pitcher or glass container. Cover and place in refrigerator to cold brew.
    Use cool or room temperature filtered water. No need to boil any water to make cold brew tea.
  2. Strain out tea leaves.
    Use a mesh strainer if using loose tea or just take out the tea sachets or tea bags.

Expert Tips

  • Ice is optional since the tea is already chilled, but add ice to keep it colder for longer.
  • Not all tea is cold brewed for the same amount of time. Green tea in general is trickier to cold brew. It can taste bitter if not made properly so always check brewing guides. Black tea, oolong tea, and herbal teas are the easiest to brew since it’s harder to mess up and should be cold brewed for 12 hours.
  • Instead using a strainer, the easiest way to cold brew tea is in a cold brew maker since you can just take out the infuser instead of straining the tea into another container.
  • Make and store your tea in glass containers. Plastic tends to stain and leave behind odors.
  • Keep cold brewed tea in constant rotation by starting a new brew 1-2 days after starting the first.
  • Cold brewed tea can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Questions You May Have

Is there caffeine in cold brew tea?

Unless it’s an herbal tea, there’s caffeine in cold brewed tea. There’s less caffeine in a cold brew tea (about half) than tea steeped in hot water.

Can I cold brew any kind of tea?

Yes!

How long can I keep cold brewed tea in the refrigerator?

Up to 4 days. After that, it loses quality and starts tasting off.

Why should I use loose tea instead of tea bags?

Cold brew made from loose tea is so much better and more flavorful since loose tea is a much higher quality tea. Tea sachets are great for cold brewing too.

What’s the best way to sweeten cold brew tea?

If you want to sweeten your iced tea, use simple syrup. It’ll be the easiest to incorporate into your tea since it’s liquid. Also try flavored simple syrups to sweeten and flavor your iced tea.

Conversion Chart

TO MAKEWATERTEA
1 serving1 cup1.5 teaspoons loose tea or 1 tea sachet
2 servings2 cups1 tablespoon loose tea or 2 tea sachets
4 servings4 cups
(1 quart)
2 tablespoons loose tea or 4 tea sachets
8 servings8 cups
(2 quarts)
4 tablespoons loose tea or 8 tea sachets
Cold brewed tea in glass bottles.

Did you make this? Please leave a star rating below or a review in the comments section.

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Easy Cold Brew Iced Tea

Author: Jee Choe
How to make the best iced tea — cold brew it! Super easy and refreshing.
4.8 from 75 votes
Prep Time 2 mins
Steep Time 12 hrs
Total Time 12 hrs 2 mins
Course Drinks
Yield2 servings

INGREDIENTS
 

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon loose tea or 2 tea sachets or tea bags

INSTRUCTIONS
 

  • Put tea and water in a pitcher or glass container. Cover pitcher and put in refrigerator for at least 12 hours.
    Use cool or room temperature filtered water. No need to boil any water to make cold brew tea. Use filtered water for the best tasting cold brewed tea.
  • Strain out tea leaves.
    Use a mesh strainer if using loose tea or just take out the tea sachets or tea bags.

NOTES

Cold Brewing Guide

  • TEA: 1 ½ teaspoons loose tea or 1 tea sachet or 1 tea bag
  • WATER: 1 cup (8 oz.)
  • WATER TEMPERATURE: Cold water
  • STEEP TIME: 6-12 hours in the refrigerator depending on the type of tea

Cold Brew Time

  • White tea: 6 hours
  • Green tea: 3-6 hours
  • Oolong tea: 12 hours
  • Black tea: 12 hours
  • Herbal tea: 12 hours

Tips

  • Ice is optional since the tea is already chilled, but add ice to keep it colder for longer.
  • Not all tea is cold brewed for the same amount of time. Green tea in general is trickier to cold brew. It can taste bitter if not made properly so always check brewing guides. Black tea, oolong tea, and herbal teas are the easiest to brew since it’s harder to mess up and should be cold brewed for 12 hours.
  • Instead using a strainer, the easiest way to cold brew tea is in a cold brew maker since you can just take out the infuser instead of straining the tea into another container.
  • Make and store your tea in glass containers. Plastic tends to stain and leave behind odors.
  • Keep cold brewed tea in constant rotation by starting a new brew 1-2 days after starting the first.
  • Cold brewed tea can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

NUTRITION

Calories: 1 | Carbohydrates: 1g | Sodium: 12mg | Calcium: 7mg
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68 thoughts on “Cold Brew Tea: What It is & How to Make It Properly”

  1. That sounds so easy! Where did you get those glasses where you made the tea in? They look like the perfect size for storing in the fridge.

    Reply
  2. Is cold brew better tasting than sun tea? I recently discovered that I wasn’t doing sun tea wrong, but that I just don’t like it. It has a flavor that makes me think of hay.

    Reply
  3. 5 stars
    My copy cat Starbucks iced green tea recipe uses 3 Prince of Peace tea bags and 1 Bigelow Plantation Mint bag. I’ve never heard of Weck before, those jars look great, thx for the tip!

    Reply
  4. 5 stars
    Hi, great article, just led me to buying a cold brew tea maker, 🙂 can’t think why I haven’t heard of these before.

    Can I ask if you can steep the tea more than once when using this method? I drink organic oolong ( way too expensive ) and always steep 3-4 times when making hot tea.

    I am also thinking of mixing my oolong with my herbal lemon & ginger tea, would you suggest making up two seperate teas and mixing in the glass or is it possible/better to combine before brewing?

    Reply
    • Hi Jules, you definitely can steep tea more than once but just steep it for longer than the first time by adding a couple of hours and giving it a taste. As for mixing oolong and herbal and ginger tea, I would make it separate at first to figure out the best ratio of each tea then once you’re happy with the ratio, combine it before brewing.

      Reply
  5. 5 stars
    Nice recipe, a bit curious, if sencha should be brewed only 3 hours, should we also brew other green tea like Long Jing Tea or other chinese green tea for 3 hours in refrigerator?

    Thanks

    Reply
    • Hi Daniel, great question! Sencha is steamed in the tea making process so it’s more delicate than Long Jing which is pan-fried instead of steamed. Long Jing is heartier so it’s best to cold brew it for longer.

      Reply

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