Summer is the perfect time for iced tea. But how do you make iced tea? Do you need special equipment or pre-made iced tea mixes? Or can you use loose leaf to make iced tea? Actually, you don’t have to go out and find special iced tea bags or pre-sweetened mixes. Loose leaf tea makes wonderful summer iced brews that you can easily make anytime with things you already have around your home.
How do you make Ice Tea for the Summer?
If you want to make iced tea, there are there are several methods you can use. We recommend using either the cold brew method and flash chill method because they are each easy, convenient and safe. Each method uses items you likely already own or that are easy to find. Neither requires difficult or specialized techniques, and each can be perfected in an afternoon or less!
Method 1: Cold Brew // Cold Press Iced Tea
Next, fill your jar with room temperature water. In this case, we added 1 quart of Spring Water to the 11 grams of tea in our canning jar. Cover your jar, and then leave your tea to cold steep in the refrigerator for 8-12 hours.
After cold steeping, all of the loose leaf tea will sink to the bottom of your jar. Because of this, you do not need to worry about straining out the leaves by pouring your cold brew through a strainer and into a new vessel. Instead, you can feel free to leave the tea in your pitcher/jar. It’s more convenient, and makes for a beautiful presentation for your guests. Because we brewed the tea cold overnight and used room temperature water, there is no need to worry about your brew becoming bitter and over-steeped.
To serve, pour over ice in a glass and enjoy! Add sliced fruit, honey, sugar or simple syrup to taste. For best results, remember enjoy your cold brew within a week.
Method 2: Flash Chilled Iced Tea
Flash-chilled iced tea is a great, instant way to make iced tea whenever you want it, even if you didn’t have time to prepare in advance. It is a little bit more difficult to make because it requires ice, boiled water, brew baskets and a martini shaker (or equivalent), but for making impromptu iced brews any time, it can’t be beat!
You’ll need the following ingredients and equipment:
loose leaf tea
two glasses (or one glass and one pitcher)
boiled spring or filtered water
martini shaker (or equivalent)
Brew 5 grams of tea (usually 1 TB) in 6oz of water. For green teas, use cooler 175 degree water and steep for 30-40 seconds. For hardier oxidized teas like black teas or oolongs, use just under boiling water (about 205 degrees). Steep these teas for up to 1 minute (or to taste). The idea here is to brew a concentrated tea shot. A brew basket and a pitcher or small glass tend to work best, though in a pinch, you can always use a fork to strain out your tea leaves once they’ve finished steeping!
At our tea house, we used our dedicated espresso machine to create these tea shots from Laoshan Green Oolong and Laoshan Roasted Oolong. If you have one at home and would like to try it yourself, just remember to thoroughly clean your heads and your machine, or else your iced tea might taste like iced coffee! Pack your head about 70% with your loose leaf tea, and then pull a double. Fill a glass with ice while the tea sits in the head, and then pull another double.
Whether you used a brew basket and pitcher to make your concentrated tea or an espresso machine, you should now have 6-8 oz of concentrated brew tea. Now we need to cool off and chill that tea!
Fill a martini shaker (or equivalent) with ice, then pour in your brewed tea. Shake and swirl until the contents are well-chilled. This usually takes 10-30 seconds. Pour the tea out through martini shaker’s strainer top (this will hold back the partially melted ice cubes). Pour into a new glass filled with fresh ice.
Serve immediately and enjoy! Feel free to add a garnish of your choice like a slice of lemon or fresh fruit. You can even add muddled mint or fruit slices to your martini shaker filled with ice to infuse those flavors as the tea is chilling. If you enjoy sweet tea, add honey or sugar to taste, or try adding a shot of ginger or fruit juice!
What about Sun Tea or Sun Brewed Iced Tea?
Brewing iced tea in the sun is very traditional and looks beautiful, but we do not recommend making sun tea. This is because it’s actually not a safe way to brew iced tea, especially if you add honey or sugar to your iced tea while it’s brewing in the sun. This is because sun tea can harbor bacteria and encourage bacteria growth, especially if you add bacteria’s favorite food: sugar! Tea that steeps in the sun will never get hotter than 130 degrees. To be safe, if tea is going to be brewing for more than a just few minutes, the brewing needs to happen at temperatures above 195 degrees or below 40 degrees. This is why we recommend steeping in the refrigerator (under 40 degrees) or steeping a concentrate with boiled water and then flash chilling.
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