Creating the Best Iced Tea: Expert Tips - English Tealeaves

Creating the Best Iced Tea: Expert Tips

Michele Lillie
Iced tea & cupcakes

For many people, Summer means Iced Tea. Common questions from our customers include which teas are best for iced and how to make a great glass of iced tea. In this post, I will discuss the answers to those questions.

As to which tea is best for iced, there is no one answer. Any tea can be made into iced tea. One is not better than another. Just as with hot tea, it depends on your preferences. Start with a tea you like hot. Then, try it as an iced tea. Think about what flavors you like and pick a tea that matches that. Our staff is ready and willing to help you decide.

Classic iced tea is made from black tea. We make our house black iced tea from our Indochine tea. This tea comes from Vietnam and has a slightly earthy taste with subtle spice notes. It has certainly become a favorite in the Café.

Others might enjoy our Assam Leopards blend, which is a fuller-bodied tea with a strong malty flavor. If you enjoy aromatic teas, try one of our Darjeeling teas.

Many people have a preference for fruity teas when drinking iced tea. In that case, try our Strawberry Green, another Café favorite. Also on the lighter side would be our White Cherry, a wonderful blend of both white and green tea leaves flavored with jasmine, cherry and a touch of coconut. If you desire something with a bit more body, how about our Magic Moon? It is a blend of green and black tea leaves with the tropical taste of papaya.

If a caffeine-free iced drink is your preference, we have plenty to choose from. From the very fruity Mango & Friends to the rooibos-based Peach Apricot, you are sure to find something that you like.

Once you have purchased your tea, you want to brew it to get the most flavor you can. Once again, we are here to help.

Proper Brewing of Iced Tea

You should start by reviewing our guidelines for brewing great hot tea. Turning that cup of hot tea into a refreshing iced tea is not as simple as pouring it over ice. The ice will dilute the tea giving you a weak flavor. How you decide to brew iced tea depends on how much time you have. There are three basic methods.

Brew hot and then refrigerate

This method requires planning for a few hours in the refrigerator. Brew your tea hot as explained in our brewing guidelines. After brewing, place in the refrigerator until cool. Then, when you pour it over ice, the ice will chill the tea but not melt and dilute it.

Brew hot and pour over ice

If you are in a hurry for your iced tea, this method is for you. Brew it hot but brew it double-strength, which means using twice the recommended amount of tea leaves but brewing it for the normal amount of time. When done brewing, pour over ice and as the ice melts, the dilution that occurs will give you a wonderful glass of iced tea.

Cold Brew Bottle

Cold brew

This is probably the best way to brew iced tea but does require some planning. Rather than brewing the tea in hot water, put your tea leaves in a glass or pitcher and pour over cold water. Allow to brew to desired strength, strain and enjoy.

Recommendations for the amount of tea to use vary between 1 and 4 tablespoons of tea per quart of water. Timing will vary from ½ hour for light teas and up to 24 hours for darker teas. We recommend tasting every half hour until you find your perfect brew.

The reason why this is such a great way to brew iced tea is that the tannins, which can make tea bitter, do not come out with cold water as they can with hot water. Therefore, you end up with an incredibly smooth and non-bitter iced tea.

Caution when brewing herbal and/or fruit teas

If you are brewing herbal or fruit teas, always use boiling water for a hot brew. If you wish to do a cold brew, rinse your tea with hot water before brewing in cold water. Herbs/fruits/flowers do not undergo the same high-heat processing as real teas, which kills pathogens. Therefore, to ensure your safety, be sure to either brew or rinse in boiling water.

If you like your iced tea sweetened and you use granulated sugar, add it while the tea is still hot to ensure the sugar dissolves. If you are sweetening your tea after it's chilled, you would be better off using a liquid sweetener. There is always honey or agave although those can add their own flavor to your tea. An alternative is to make a simple syrup by putting equal parts of sugar and water in a saucepan, bringing it to a boil and stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Allow it to cool and add to your cold tea as you desire. If you are ordering in the Café, we have that option available; just ask us for it.

A final idea is to make ice cubes with the same tea and add them to your iced tea instead of regular ice cubes. As the ice melts, it won’t dilute your tea – it will enhance it.

Blue iced tea pitcher

You do not need any special equipment to make iced tea. However, we have some items that will make your life easier. We have travel tea tumblers that are perfect for taking your iced tea with you. If you are brewing for a crowd, check out our supply of iced tea pitchers.

We wish you a Happy Iced Tea Summer!

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