How to Make the Best Iced Tea (Cold Brew It!)

How do you make the best iced tea? You cold brew it! It’s super easy and all you need to cold brew tea is good loose leaf tea and water.

How to Cold Brew Tea photo

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 brewed tea. It’s how you should ALWAYS make iced tea. It’s so good that it’s a 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.

My favorite tea to cold brew are oolongs like this one and this one.

RELATED: Where to Buy Tea Online

How to Cold Brew Iced Tea Ingredients photo

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What I Used to Make This Cold Brew:

  • Any kind of loose leaf tea. Any tea can be used to cold brew from white tea to black tea to herbals.
  • A strainer to filter out the tea leaves.
  • Tall weck jars to steep and store the cold brew tea in.
  • Teaspoon to measure out the loose tea leaves.

How to Make Iced Tea image

Why is Cold Brewing the Best Method for Iced Tea?

The slow and gentle steeping creates a much sweeter and smoother tea so you don’t have to worry about it being harshly bitter.

Also, there’s less caffeine in a cold brew so you can drink more of it without getting super jittery.

RELATED: Muddled Mint Lemonade Iced Tea

The Cold Brew Formula

The ratio for cold brew is one teaspoon of loose tea to one cup of water.

If you’re using tea bags, you can use 1-2 tea bags per cup of water.

Why is Loose Tea Better Than Tea Bags?

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 also costs a lot more than tea bags.

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 for 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.

RELATED: Iced Tea with Lemon Verbena Honey Simple Syrup

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.

Cold Brew Tea image

Cold Brew Tea in Three Steps

Step 1: Tea goes into a container with water
Step 2: Container goes into the refrigerator for eight hours or overnight
Step 3: Strain tea leaves and you’re left with gorgeous cold brewed tea.

I tend to like my cold brew as is, but feel free to add simple syrup to sweeten. (Here’s my Honey Simple Syrup recipe.)

If you want to go the extra mile, do a quick rinse using hot water to clean the loose tea leaves. (This step isn’t necessary if you’re using tea bags.) All you need is 10 seconds for the rinse.

And if you want to take it another step further, after you’ve filled the container with tea and water, let it sit for an hour at room temperature before putting it in the fridge.

You can reuse the tea leaves if it’s loose leaf tea. Just strain out of one container and just add it into another with water. If I see that the tea leaves haven’t unfurled much, I’ll use it again for the next batch.

Best Iced Tea photo


Makes 4 cups

4 cup water (filtered will taste best)
4 teaspoon of loose leaf tea (or 4 tea bags)

In a pitcher, stir in loose leaf tea into cold or room temperature water. Cover and refrigerate for about eight hours or overnight.

Strain out tea leaves and discard or reuse. If using tea bags, discard.

Cold brewed tea can be stored in the refrigerator for up to five days.

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  • Roxanne Testen
    11 months ago

    love your site

  • Stephanie
    8 months ago

    Where did you get those containers and strainer?

    • Jee
      8 months ago

      Hi Stephanie, I got them from Williams Sonoma.

  • 4 months ago

    Great summary! What are your thoughts on brewing at room temperature vs in the refrigerator? I tend to do my coffee at room temperature on the counter but my tea in the fridge but I’m curious if anyone here prefers tea at room temperature?

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Jee
      4 months ago

      Hi Chip, I like my tea either hot or cold so I’ve never tried to brew it at room temperature although I know some people like to brew it at room temperature for a couple of hours before storing it in the fridge. If you like yours room temperature, I don’t see any reason not to brew it that way!

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