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.

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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

In the summer, I fill these Weck jars with all different kinds of iced tea.
View Recipe

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
Yield: 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.

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71 Comments

  1. Can these glass cylinder quart/liter jars be bought on Amazon.? If not then where do I find them? I tried looking based off the previous comments but still hard to find.

  2. Thank you for the great post. Exactly what I was looking for after hearing some recommendations for cold brew tea.

    Regarding the tea brewing bottles used here:

    Williams and Sonoma is blocking access to their website for folks outside of the USA so the link for us expats does not work.

    If anyone wants these nifty ice tea brewing jars they are Weck Model 908 (1 liter) or 905 (.5 liter) cylinders.

    On some sites the 1 liter weck 908 is listed as 1040ml and the 905 as 600ml but my box of 908s says 1 liter. So if searching on 1 liter weck cylinder does not give you any good hits, search on 1040ml weck cylinder.

    https://weckjars.com/product-category/cylindrical/

    (note the 908s are listed as out of stock indefinitely but the german page is stating they will be back in stock this spring)

    When ordering make sure you are also getting the covers and metal clips (mine shipped with glass covers but no clips) or order the clips separately.

    Alternatively for something not as pretty but way easier to work with Weck sells plastic “keep fresh” covers for the jars. 80mm for the 1l and 60mm for the .6l.

    https://www.amazon.com/Weck-Fresh-Plastic-Medium-models/dp/B073SM4LTJ/

    Thanks again for the wonderful post on how to make cold brew ice tea!

  3. I am drinking some cold brew iced tea right now, and it’s so refreshing and delicious (despite it being January haha!) I’ve never tried to cold brew iced tea, but I got the idea because I wanted to use up some loose leaf tea that had been lingering in my pantry. I ended up tripling the recipe, because the pitcher I used was a lot larger. The possibilities are endless to the blends I can come up with now!

  4. I’ve ruined more than my share of sweet iced tea using boiling water. I have to give this a try, before the warm season passes. I think I’ll use a sheng puerh that I’m not too fond of, just as an experiment. Thanks!

    1. Hi Mike, oh, I like the sound of your experiment! Hope it tastes better than when it’s made with hot water!

      1. Ha ha, yes puerh can be a challenge but I have turned some disappointing ones into fine iced tea, Southern style.

  5. Hello! I was wondering about reusing the loose tea leaves? I assume they lose potency with each batch. So how often would you switch from reusing to new leaves? Also can you maybe recommend a ratio of old/new leaves if I want to have a consistent brew each day?

    For context, I plan on making about 3 cups to drink throughout the day each day. So that’s about 4-5 tsp of leaves for each batch. Maybe I should do half old and half new? What do you think?

    1. Hi Matt, I wouldn’t mix the new and used brewed tea leaves. Make the first batch with new leaves, cold brew it for 12 hours, then strain out the leaves and put it in a new container and cold brew that one for 18-24 hours. So shorter cold brew time for new leaves and longer cold brew time for used leaves. I would cold brew used leaves just once.

  6. I put 9 black tea bags in a gallon container, add appx. .5 gal. boiling water and steep for 8 min. Lightly press bags, discard, and fill container with cold tap water. Pour out some to fill 20oz. ice-filled mug. Refill container with more tap water. Leave out to cool for a few hours, then put in refrigerator. Outstanding! I will try your method for comparison.

  7. Hi! How long it last the ice tea in the refrigerator after the cold brew? It would be better to add the fruit and the leaves of mint or basil when i am going to serve it if i want my ice tea last longer? Thank you!

    1. Hi Florencia, the cold brew will last up to five days in the refrigerator. You can cold brew with the fruit and herbs for 2 days (you want to make sure the flavors get a chance to infuse into the tea) then discard so that it’s not in the cold brew for the entire 5 days.