Tips And Tricks For Brewing The World’s Best Ice Tea For National Iced Tea Day

Iced tea is a beverage that’s enjoyed around the world, and that really shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone considering how refreshing and stimulating the drink can be. In Thailand, iced tea is made with strongly brewed Ceylon tea that’s been sweetened with condensed milk and served over ice.

In Taiwan, Bubble Tea is a popular iced tea variant that’s made with various flavorings and tapioca pearls. And in the United States, iced tea is generally made with black tea that’s been sweetened with sugar. This version of iced tea is called sweet tea, and it’s the one that we’re going to be addressing in this post.

In the United States, iced tea has deep cultural roots in the South. Not only because it’s refreshing, especially in the hot months of summer, but it’s also closely associated with relaxation and hospitality. It’s a beverage that can commonly be seen at barbecues, picnics, and social gatherings.

We think that many people have a problem making excellent iced tea because they don’t give much thought to the process. They think that as long as they filter water through tea bags and then serve it over ice, then it’s iced tea. We hate to break it to these people, but that simply isn’t the case.

The quality of the ingredients, including the water, is very important to the end product, as is how the tea is brewed. If the tea isn’t made “correctly,” then it’s simply not going to turn out very well. In this post, we’re going to cover every single aspect of the tea brewing process — from selecting the tea to brewing the tea — so that everyone can brew the best tea they can possibly brew.

And once that perfect glass of iced tea is brewed, it can be served with light salads, sandwiches, wraps, grilled meats, barbecue, afternoon cucumber finger sandwiches, cookies, or spicy dishes. That all sounds good, so let’s just jump right into the thick of things and find out how to brew better iced tea.

Step One: Let’s Start With The Tea

The first step to brewing the best iced tea is to choose the right tea for the job. Typically, black tea is used for making sweet tea, but nowadays, consumers have a variety of tea choices to choose from. Black tea tends to have a stronger flavor and higher caffeine content than green tea. For our sweet iced tea, we like to choose black tea from a reputable source.

Lower-quality tea bags are made from tea dust and other tea fannings. These lower-quality teas have less flavor than high-quality tea bags. Orange pekoe is commonly used for iced tea bags that are commonly sold in the supermarket. The term “orange pekoe” is a tea grade and not a specific type of tea. It’s the lowest rating of whole loose leaves.

Even though it’s the lowest on the tea-grading scale, it’s still an indication of quality because it means that no compromised or crushed leaves were used. Below are the tea grades for whole-leaf teas that people can consider for brewing their iced tea. The ratings start with the lowest grade and continue to the highest grade.

  • OP: orange pekoe
  • FOP: flowery orange pekoe
  • GFOP: golden flowery orange pekoe
  • TGFOP: tippy golden flowery orange pekoe
  • FTGFOP: finest tippy golden flowery orange pekoe

Some of the black teas that people may want to consider include Assam, Ceylon, Nilgiri, and Darjeeling black teas. Star of India black tea is also an option. This tea is a blend of Assam, Darjeeling, and Nilgiri teas and has a nice balanced flavor. Any orange pekoe tea will do for making iced tea, however. It really depends on the flavor profile a person likes.

Step Two: Consider The Water

The next step to brewing the perfect iced tea is to consider the quality of the water. Ideally, high-quality purified water should be used for iced tea. Not only for brewing the tea but also for making the ice cubes. Well water can impart a dirty taste to the tea, and the chlorine in city tap water can ruin the delicate flavor of the black tea.

Step Three: Let’s Brew Some Tea!

Now, let’s talk about how tea should be brewed. We know of three different ways that people can brew iced tea and we’re going to cover the proper way using each of these methods. Let’s start with the hot brewing method. This is the method that we prefer for making iced tea, especially sweet tea.

Hot Brewing Method

  • Bring 2 cups of water to a boil, then remove from the heat.
  • Add four tea bags of your favorite tea or four tablespoons of loose-leaf tea that’s been placed in an infuser.
  • Steep the tea for 5 minutes.
  • Remove the tea bags (or tea infuser) and let the tea cool at room temperature for 10 minutes.
  • Add two cups of cold water and refrigerate or add ice to serve immediately.

Quick Note: Notice that we don’t immediately add the boiling tea to ice. That’s because cooling down the tea too quickly will result in astringent tannins being released into the tea. This not only makes the tea taste bitter but also produces a cloudy tea.

Cold Brewing Method

This method takes longer but produces a softer tea that’s easier to drink. Let’s find out how to make it properly.

  • Add one tea bag for every cup of water to a large jar with a tight-fitting lid.
  • Cover the jar and place it in the refrigerator for approximately 12 hours.
  • Remove the tea bags and serve the tea over ice.

Sun Tea Brewing Method

It should be noted that we don’t recommend making sun tea because there is a real possibility that harmful bacteria can grow in it. That’s because the sun’s rays only heat the water up to 130 degrees — not nearly hot enough to kill off microorganisms.

We’re only listing this method because many people still make tea this way. Anyone who does make tea this way should make sure that they use a sanitized vessel and purified water. They should also make sure to use it the same day it’s made.

  • Add one tea bag for every cup of water to a large jar with a tight-fitting lid.
  • Cover the jar and place it in the sun for several hours.
  • Serve the tea immediately and dispose of any leftover tea.

That does it for us today, folks. We hope that we’ve given you the advice you can use when you brew your next gallon of tea. And remember, once you’ve mastered the basics of brewing iced tea, you can not only observe National Tea Day but can also easily observe any of the other tea holidays that appear on the calendar.