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Crisp, Refreshing, and Uplifting: Foolproof Cold Brew Iced Tea Recipe

Green and black cold brew iced tea, recipe, glass, pitcher, outdoors

On a hot day, there’s nothing quite as refreshing, uplifting, light, crisp, and naturally flavorful as homemade cold brew iced tea. It’s so easy to make – and take with you anywhere!

What’s So Special about Cold Brew Tea?

Let’s get the most important thing out of the way: we are NOT talking about the heavier, sweet Southern iced tea, which is usually based on a strong, often somewhat bitter, black tea concentrate made with hot water, and then cooled down. That Southern iced tea is traditionally already made (or at least served with) ample amounts of sugar and lots of ice cubes, which melt quickly in the Southern heat and dilute the strong tea base.

The homemade cold brewed iced tea we’re talking about doesn’t require all that to taste just right. The secret to smooth, refreshing, naturally flavorful, clean, light, and never-bitter iced tea is: cold brewing. The cold brewing process brings out all the natural aromas of the tea without activating the bitter tannin that the hot water process releases.

The great news: you don’t need any special equipment to make foolproof cold brew iced tea at home. Well, you need a fridge.

While talking about refrigeration: that’s a big difference between cold brewed tea and sun tea. Sun tea also simply combines tea with cold water in a glass jar for some hours; but sun tea is left sitting out in the sunshine, where it will warm up. Making sun tea in this manner can cause bacteria to grow – and the tea might end up tasting bitter from the heat anyway. So, forget about sun tea and make yourself a delicious and clean batch of cold brew tea!

And if you keep it in an insulated bottle, like our bamboo top double-wall insulated stainless steel bottle, it’ll stay cold for all your outdoor fun times and road trips.

You might be surprised how easy it is to make foolproof, smooth-tasting, cold brewed iced tea at home yourself – even GREEN iced tea!

Tips for Types of Teas and Tastes

GREEN TEA

If you’re a green tea drinker, you probably know how challenging it can be to brew hot green tea just right because it’s so fickle. To ensure hot green tea tastes crisp, refreshing, and actually “green” the water temperature and timing has to be just right. If the water is too hot or you let it steep too long, hot green tea quickly turns brown and bitter. And if the water isn’t hot enough or steeping time was too short, hot green tea can be flavorless and weak. Of course, good green tea is so delicious and healthy that it’s worth dialing it in right.

The good news: making smooth, refreshing, actually “green” and not-bitter tasting iced green tea is rather foolproof and easy. The margin of error to make sure you don’t have bitter iced green tea is hours, not seconds. Cold brew green tea won’t be bitter as long as you only steep it for 3 – 5 hours.

KNOWING HOW LONG TO STEEP COLD BREW TEA

As mentioned above, for cold brew green tea, you want to let the leaves steep in the fridge for about 3 to 5 hours. Herbal and black cold brew teas should steep for 8 to 12 hours – or still more if you prefer an even stronger flavor. To make the whole cold brewing process more foolproof and get you the best tasting iced tea based on your personal preference, we recommend a little taste testing along the way. The first time you brew a new flavor, pour a little bit off after the minimum “brewing” time (3 hrs for green, 8 hrs for black) and give it a try. If you’d like a stronger flavor, let it sit for another hour and then try it again… Keep going until the cold brew tea tastes just the way you want it. For the next time you cold brew tea, you’ll know your personal preference and can set an alarm on your phone.

TEA FLAVOR CHOICES

Our personal preference: for cold brew black tea, we use Assam-based English Breakfast Tea – for cold brew green tea, we use Longjing (Dragonwell) Green Tea. Which teas do you use?

We have yet to try making cold brew tea with white tea, rooibos, mint, or any other herbal teas. Have you? What are your tips for making herbal cold brews?

LOOSE TEA VS. TEA BAGS

While it’s absolutely possible to make cold brew iced tea with tea bags, but we still highly recommend you use loose tea. Often loose tea is of a better quality simply because it hasn’t been crushed and pushed into little bags. But mostly we recommend loose tea because during the cold brewing process, the loose tea leaves will move up and down within the cold water. Yup, it’s a little bit like a tea lava lamp. This is not only pretty to watch, it surely also gently draws more flavor out of the tea through natural movement – vs. just some bags hanging in the water.

Cold Brew Iced Tea Recipe

Recipe Ingredients and Tools

  • Black, green, white or herbal TEA (loose or in bags) and COLD WATER.
    • For every (8 oz / 237 ml) cup of cold water, use 1 heaping teaspoon of loose tea or 1 teabag.
      For example: for 6 cups of water, use 6 teaspoons of loose tea (or 6 teabags).
  • SIEVE if using loose tea. We recommend using loose tea vs. tea bags. See note above.

Recipe Instructions

  1. Put tea into glass container.
  2. Pour cold or room temperature (filtered) water over tea.
  3. Cover container and place in refrigerator for 3 – 5 hours (green tea) or 8 – 12 hours (black tea).
    Just FYI, in both cases we prefer the shorter amount of time.
  4. Pour tea through sieve. (Or pull out tea bags.)
  5. Serve as is… or with ice cubes and lemon wedges… or fill up an insulated bottle and take it with you on your fun time out.
  6. Keep leftover iced tea refrigerated and consume within about a week.

Let’s Inspire Each Other

Have you tried this cold brew iced tea recipe? What did you think? If you use a different method or recipe – what’s the difference? Do you have any additional tips? What’s your favorite kind of tea to use for iced tea?

Please leave a reply in the comment section below.

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Foolproof recipe for green and black cold brew iced tea. Crisp, refreshing, uplifting and never bitter.
Crisp, Refreshing, and Uplifting: Foolproof Cold Brew Iced Tea Recipe

14 thoughts on “Crisp, Refreshing, and Uplifting: Foolproof Cold Brew Iced Tea Recipe

  1. Love this. As I only drink tea when its cold.

  2. I like teas, especially the green tea kind. Thank you for sharing your cold brew iced tea recipe ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Nothing like a glass of cold brew tea on a hot summer’s day. This looks so refreshing and tasty as well

    1. You’re right – nothing quite like it. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you for your comment.

  4. I’ve just learned about cold brew tea and I’ve been loving it lately! It’s so easy and refreshing!

    1. That makes me feel better about not knowing about cold brew tea until this summer. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  5. I want want want! This is so refreshing! I can’t wait to make it this weekend.

    1. Sounds like it’s going to be a refreshing weekend. Just remember the only catch with cold brew: it takes a few hours before you can enjoy it. Patience…

  6. Tea is just great for us, full of antioxidant and we just should be drinking everyday.

    1. You are so right! That’s why it’s so great to have good-tasting cold tea that you can drink on those hot days – keep getting those antioxidants!

  7. I’ll try this recipe in the next couple days. Still use my insulated stainless steel bottle!
    About an hour ago I sent in my memoir to Friesen Press, the hybrid self-publisher who will print it. Such a relief…. it took me a long time write!
    It was nice seeing your Facebook message….someone to share the news with!
    Beverly

    1. I hope you’ll like it. That’s great to know you’re still using your bottle. Even better: you sent off your manuscript to the publisher! That’s fantastic news. Congratulations, Bev! I’m so impressed with your achievement. Looking forward to seeing your story in print!
      xx Luci

  8. I just purchased some new loose tea and am looking forward to trying this! I usually use tea bags, so I’m excited to try something new.

    1. Perfect timing then! I do believe tea tastes better if you can use loose tea – and with the cold brew it’s especially intriguing to watch the tea leaves move up and down in the cold water. Enjoy!

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