Making Iced Tea From Loose Leaf
T Tegan Woo

Making Iced Tea From Loose Leaf

Jul 2, 2018 · Iced Tea · tea101

If you haven’t jumped on the homemade iced tea train yet, now’s the time! Having a favourite iced tea method in your back pocket will pay off all year long.

Having a cold brew tea in the fridge waiting for you post-workout, having a delicious and refreshing iced tea to sip (or chug!) while you clean your house, making a jug for a patio hang with friends or taking an iced matcha on the go, those are just a few of the times you'll find iced tea really hits the spot.

Iced tea is not just reserved for summer, but we’ll take this seasonal opportunity to let you in on our iced tea brewing methods, tips and tricks, how we choose teas to ice and how to extract the most flavour. 

So technically speaking, you can ice any tea you want and I strongly encourage that you test out different teas, varietals (e.g. green, rooibos, white, etc) and flavours and see what you like and don’t like. Having said that, some teas certainly ice better than others and when you're finished reading this post, you'll feel confident choosing teas to ice.

iced tea

How to Choose the Best Teas to Ice

We recommend: green teas, white teas, fruit teas and black teas (if you’re careful).

You want flavours that pop and tea varietals that are full-bodied and won’t taste watery over ice. Cold mellows out the flavours in the same way that your cold leftovers are dull compared to when you had them hot at dinner last night.

Pure teas to try: Japanese green teas like Sencha, Chinese White teas like Bai Mu Dan. For black teas, look for single origin. For example, a Kenyan tea vs. an English Breakfast blend. And look for descriptors like “clean”, “bright”, “floral”.

For all you flavoured tea lovers, look for natural or pure extracts. Flavours to look for: tropical fruits, stone fruits (e.g. peaches), berries and hibiscus. You can also think of cold drinks that you already love like lemonade and mojitos. So maybe an iced tea that’s lemon, lime or mint would taste good (hint: they do).

Loose leaf teas work best, especially when you give them space to expand while the tea steeps. Loose leaves have much more complexity to their flavours than the tiny pieces of tea leaves you find in tea bags.

Garnishes & flavour enhancers: mint & summer herbs, lemon, lime, citrus slices, cucumber.

When the flavours are bold and full, I tend to choose the hot brew method. When flavours are mild, round and smooth, I lean towards a cold brew method.

Advanced Tip: seek out aromatic pure teas with a natural sweetness to them and leave the sugar out of your tea. Think of the fresh vegetal aroma of sencha or the floral stone fruit aroma of a lightly oxidized Taiwanese oolong. Those are natural flavours from the tea leaves themselves.

iced tea with a lemon squeeze

Methods for Making Iced Tea

Cold Brew Method
Fool Proof Method for Chronic Over-steepers

So you want to know how to cold steep? No ice? Not in a hurry? Do you find joy in delayed gratification? Choose the cold brew method! Do it. It’s the best!

You can use this method for any type of tea as a cold brew. It creates a super smooth, flavourful iced tea.

What you need for a single serving:
  • Amount of tea: 1 rounded teaspoon per 8-10oz of water
  • A small mason jar
  • Room temp water

Add the tea to the mason jar. Fill the jar with room temperature water. Screw the lid on and pop it in the fridge for 8 hours or more.

Scroll down for an instructional video!

cold brew method

For pitchers or litre mason jars, just multiply the amount of tea you need!

Want extra flavours in your tea? Try this combination: 

Your tea of choice, one herb, one citrus fruit and/or one berry or stone fruit. Cold steep for 8 hours.

Example: Japanese green tea, fresh basil leaves, squeeze of lime & strawberry slices. 

Thanks to Jee at Oh How Civilized for introducing me to a similar formula.

Bonus: Cold brew method doesn’t get bitter. So set it and forget it. Plus, cold brew method extracts less caffeine.

Hot Brew Method

So you want to know how to make iced tea from hot tea? If you didn't think ahead 8 hours to make a cold brew, you can make almost instant iced tea by first making a double strength cup of hot tea. Just make sure you've got ice in the freezer.

What you need for a single serving:
  • Amount of tea: 2 rounded teaspoons of tea per 8oz water.
  • A glass full of ice
  • A mug or teapot

Boil water and steep your tea. Follow the steeping instructions for the tea you’re using. Set a timer for the steeping time! When it’s done steeping, strain the leaves out and just pour that hot tea over the ice. 

Tip:  if you want your iced tea sweet, add your sweetener while the tea is still hot so it properly and easily dissolves.

Loose steeping guide, just in case:

Black teas – use freshly boiled water and steep 3-5 minutes
Oolong teas – 85ºC/185ºF, when the bubbles are the size of fish eyes or let boiling water sit for about 4 minutes.
White & Green teas – 80ºC/175ºF, when the bubbles are the size of crab eyes or let boiling water sit for about 7 minutes.

Don’t break this rule: Follow the steeping instructions! Use the proper temperature of water and the recommended steep time. If you oversteep it, it will taste bitter hot or iced! Steeping your tea longer will not give you more flavour! Nothing kills the refreshing part of iced tea than bitter tannins!

If you don’t have ice, you could let the tea cool and then stick it in the fridge and dilute with cold water, but that method is my least favourite as it just tastes a bit on the dull side. It will do in a pinch though.  

Here's a 3 minute video showing how to make iced tea with these two methods. For higher quality viewing, hover over the video and click the Facebook icon.

Wondering how to make iced matcha? Try here and here.


Our Favourite Iced Teas Right Now


emerald city iced tea

Black tea: Emerald City
Recommended Iced Tea Method: Cold Brew

geisha green tea pineapple

Green tea: Geisha
Recommended Iced Tea Method: Cold Brew

white berry tea

White: White Berry
Recommended Iced Tea Method: Cold Brew

harvest berry herbal tea

Herbal: Oregon Harvest Berry
Recommended Iced Tea Method: Hot Brew & Ice

 We have 16 more iced teas in our collection!



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