Here’s how to make iced tea at home! This easy method takes only a few minutes of hands on time and makes the best flavor.
Sure, you can buy iced tea at the store. But for the very best ice tea? Make it homemade! This easy method takes only a few minutes of hands on time. It results in a brew with the very best crisp, refreshing flavor! You can also stir in a little sugar to make homemade sweet tea. It’s the best way to make drinking water tasty, and a nice alternative to iced coffee. We’ve been making it on repeat over here! Here’s how to make the very best pitcher of cold iced tea you can imagine.
What you need for iced tea
You might be surprised at how easy it is to make iced tea at home! There are only two ingredients in the base recipe, and three if you make sweet tea. This makes a large pitcher of 8 servings. Unsweetened tea is a fantastic healthy drink that’s very low in calories. Here’s what you’ll need to make it:
- Black tea bags: To make a full pitcher, you’ll need 6 bags. Black tea is the best type of tea to use. Remember that it does have caffeine, but only about half the caffeine level that’s in a cup of coffee.
- Water: You’ll need 8 cups of water.
- Sugar: Sugar is necessary only if you want to make sweet tea! In our opinion, we prefer unsweetened tea on the regular: but sweetened tea is nice for entertaining.
How to make iced tea: basic steps
The hands-on time for making iced tea is quick: most of the time involved is waiting! Making the tea takes about 20 minutes total. Then you’ll need 2 hours for it to chill. Here are the basic steps of how to make iced tea at home:
- Steep the tea: Bring 4 cups water to a simmer, add 6 tea bags and turn off the heat. Steep for 5 minutes.
- Add cold water and cool: Remove the tea bags. Add 4 cups cool water and bring to room temperature (about 10 minutes).
- Refrigerate 2 hours: Transfer to a pitcher and refrigerate 2 hours.
Variation: sweet tea!
Want to make sweet tea? Sweet tea is a popular style of iced tea with sweetener added. It’s very popular in the Southern US and other countries like Indonesia. The steps to make sweet are exactly the same as with iced tea. Here’s the only difference:
- Stir in sugar: When you remove the tea bags, stir in 1/3 cup sugar until it dissolves.
The amount of sugar makes for a sweet tea that’s just sweet enough, but not sickly sweet like some recipes. We think you’ll love it! Let us know what you think in the comments below.
How to serve iced tea
The best part about iced tea is hearing the music of ice cubes hitting against the glass, right? It feels as summery as blueberry cobbler and strawberry pie. We love serving iced tea for summer entertaining, like patio parties, cookouts, pitch-ins, and pool parties. To make it look its best, add the following to the pitcher or serving glass:
- Lemon slices
- Fresh mint
Another variation: cold brew iced tea
Want an easier method that makes even smoother iced tea? Try Cold Brew Iced Tea. This variation requires literally 2 minutes of hands on time: enough to place tea bags and water in the refrigerator. The drawback? It takes a little longer: 6 hours in the refrigerator. It makes for iced tea with a super smooth flavor. Go to Cold Brew Tea.
This iced tea recipe is…
Vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, dairy-free, sugar-free (base version), and gluten-free.Print
Here’s how to make iced tea at home! This easy method takes only a few minutes of hands on time, and makes tea with the best flavor.
- 8 cups water, divided
- 6 black tea bags
- Sweet tea variation: 1/3 cup sugar (optional)
- In a saucepan, heat 4 cups water to a simmer. Turn off the heat and add the tea bags. Allow to steep for 5 minutes.
- Remove the tea bags (and stir in the sugar until dissolved, if making sweet tea). Add the remaining 4 cups cold water to the pan. Cool until room temperature, about 10 minutes.
- Transfer to a pitcher. Refrigerate at least 2 hours before drinking. Store up to 4 days.
- Category: Drink
- Method: Tea
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: Iced tea, how to make iced tea
More tea & summer drinks
Want more with tea? Or more summery drinks? We’ve got lots of tasty tea and infused water recipes:
- Herbal Teas: Did you know you can make tea with fresh herbs and boiling water? Try Thyme Tea, Mint Tea, Oregano Tea, Rosemary Tea or Sage Tea.
- Black Tea with Basil: A fun way to drink hot tea: infused with basil! Go to Basil Tea.
- Infused Waters: Perfect for serving at summer gatherings! Try colorful Fruit Infused Water, Mint Water, Lime Mint Water, or Lemon Herb Cucumber Water.
- Kombucha: Kombucha is a more involved process at home, but so satisfying! Try this Homemade Kombucha.
- Cold Coffees: Try our Iced Coffee or Cold Brew Coffee.
About the Authors
Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.
Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.