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

4.71 from 98 votes

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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.

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What is Cold Brew Tea?

Cold brewing is a slow and gentle process where tea steeps in water for hours in the refrigerator.

The method 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.

RELATED: Raspberry Iced Tea

Recipe Highlights

  • A mostly hands-off recipe, this refreshing cold brew tea takes just 2 minutes to prepare at home.
  • Find expert tips on how to cold brew tea that’s smooth and sweet instead of bitter.
  • Learn how to perfectly cold brew any type of tea, including black tea, green tea, and herbal tea.

RELATEAD: Cold Brew Green Tea with Fresh Mint

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.

For full ingredients and detailed instructions, please see the recipe card at the bottom of the post.

My Glass Container Pick

Photo Credit: williams-sonoma.com

In the summer, I fill these Weck jars with all different kinds of iced tea.
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Step-by-Step Instructions

Tea leaves in a glass container.

Step 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.

Straining tea leaves into a glass container.

Step 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.

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4.71 from 98 votes

Easy Cold Brew Iced Tea

By: Jee Choe
How to make the best iced tea — cold brew it! Super easy and refreshing.
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Total Time: 12 hours 2 minutes
Servings: 2 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.

Video

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: 1Carbohydrates: 1gSodium: 12mgCalcium: 7mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Drinks
Cuisine: American
Tried this recipe?Mention @ohhowcivilized or tag #ohhowcivilized!

About Jee Choe

Welcome! I'm a certified Tea Sommelier and a self-proclaimed bubble tea and iced tea master. I'm all about making tea EASY and DELICIOUS.

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71 Comments

  1. I’m making an 8 cup pitcher of loose tea iced tea by adding 1 teaspoon of loose tea for every cup so basically i’m using 8 teaspoons but if i wanted to make a stronger tasting tea how much more teaspoons can i add to the pitcher. Should i double that amount (16 teaspoons) or less than that.

    1. Hi Lenny, I would double if you want it to be super strong. But if you just want iced tea that’s stronger than normal, I would go with 12 teaspoons for 8 cups.

    1. Hi Abdulazis, you can use simple syrup which is half sugar (you can also use honey) and half water that comes to a boil on a stovetop.

  2. What would be the maximum time that i can cold brew my loose iced tea in the refrigerator before having to strain it

    1. Hi Lenny, you can probably go up to 48 hours but I wouldn’t do it for longer since the cold brew would be too strong.

  3. I usually make a 2 quart (usually 8 cups all together) pitcher of cold brew tea what would be the right amount of equal parts sugar and water for my simple syrup that would give me just the right amount of sweetness but not overly sweet.

    1. Hi Lenny, it’s a little hard to say since everyone’s idea of the right amount of sweetness is a bit different. I would start with 1/2 cup of sugar for the 8 cups and adjust from there.

  4. Would it be okay to add a simple syrup to my loose tea iced tea and if so should i wait for the syrup to cool down to room temperature before adding it to the cold brew tea.

    1. Hi Lenny, best to wait till the simple syrup cools down a bit before adding into your iced tea but if you’re in a hurry, you can just add more ice. And yes, definitely ok to add the simple syrup to your iced tea if you prefer.

  5. 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!

    1. 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!