HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Looking for the best way to make Ice Tea... [moved from Pennsylvania board]

I can never seem to get ice tea right? I dont know how much water for the number of tea bags and the right amount of sugar?? Anyone have a good recipe?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. If you're using teabags, the standard tea bag ratio to water, is one teabag per 8oz/1Cup of water. For a gallon of iced tea, I would use 8cups of boiling water, and either 16 (for an extra strong brew) or 12-15 (adjust for strength), let brew for about 5-8 minutes, then dilute with an equal amount- 8cups- of ice and cold water.

    I like using loose-leaf tea, just because it is a better quality of tea, and with paper filters, I can make larger teabags to float in the boiling water. I also like substituting several cups of cold water/ice with a light juice like pomegranate or lemonade to sweeten it. Another sweetening option is to use several tablespoons of honey, and mix in the boiling water to sweeten it (I find that any sweetener dissolves easier in hot water than iced), and then add the cold water. Hope this helps!

    2 Replies
    1. re: teamuse

      Yes, that's how I make mine...1 standard size teabag per cup of iced tea. Also, after it's done steeping (I like mine strong so I let it steep a good 5 to 7 minutes) and if I want some quickly, I pour the hot tea into a metal loaf pan and put it in the freezer for a few minutes...cools it down pretty darn quickly. If you pour the hot tea over ice right away, it gets all diluted ... no flavor.

      1. re: Val

        I think when I use the gallon tea container, I use 11 bags. I make with ice water, just because I never noticed a difference. I am not a connoisseur of tea but I like mine. I set it in the sun to brew, I look for the color I prefer, and that is how I determine the strength. Lately I'm pretty hooked on mint tea (bag) and brew it the same way only in a smaller pitcher, probably half gallon range.
        First find the tea you like make a cup, and then adjust using math converting to a quart and so on. I would look for the color if you can, I have also taken the tea out of the bags, which just requires a little more time. Either way I go for the color.

    2. I like iced tea that's lightly sweetened and not too strong: a quart of strong hot tea (6 teabags or 2-3 tablespoons of loose tea leaves steeped for 5-7 minutes) sweetened with half a cup of sugar and diluted with ice and water to make a gallon. Your mileage may vary; dilute less if you want.

      Lately I've been experimenting with icing various inexpensive loose teas from the asian market. Green tea and oolong do very well. Jasmine and Pu-er--not so much. No teabag necessary; I brew in a pyrex measuring cup and strain the tea into a pitcher before sweetening and diluting.

        1. Sweeten it with simple syrup which is just equal parts water and sugar brought to a boil until sugar dissolves. That's how restaurants sweeten their tea... I live in the South (org. from PA tho) and they know their tea down here! Enjoy!

          1. I do a cold brew... about six tea bags to a pitcher of water. Put it in the fridge and about 6 hours later you will have perfect iced tea. Make simple syrup (cup of sugar, half cup water, simmered until clear) and add to taste. A few sprigs of fresh mint wouldn't hurt either.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Oh Robin

              I have taken my fellow chowhounds advice and have been making the simple syrup for a few weeks now. No more undissolved sugar floating around the bottom of the glass anymore! Although yesterday I fell asleep on the couch while making the syrup and woke up to hot and bubbling brown syrup. Took me awhile to clean the pot out! Richie

            2. There's only one possible problem with cold-steeped (aka sun) tea--tea leaves are sometimes home to unfriendly bacteria, and warm sugar water is an ideal medium for bacterial growth. Only you can decide what level of food-poisoning risk you're comfortable with, but for me it's not that much harder to steep the tea in hot water.

              1 Reply
              1. re: alanbarnes

                Cold brew tea is not sun tea. Sun tea is left out in the sun, and yes, can harbor bacteria. Cold brew is brewed in the fridge. You pour water over the tea bags and put it in the fridge. No warm sugar water, in fact no warm water at all.

                I use eight bags of tea for eight cups of water. I let it steep in the fridge for about eight hours. This makes a really smooth glass of tea and I don't add sugar at all.

              2. Here's how I make my tea--taught to me by my mother. We're true Southerners. It's nothing fancy--just really good tea. In fact, I've had friends who have begged me to make it when they've come to visit.

                Bring a small pot of water to a boil. As soon as it starts to boil, turn the heat off and stir in about 1 1/2 cups of sugar. Stir until it has dissolved. Add three family-sized tea bags (I always use Lipton) and let it steep for at least 30 minutes. Pour into a gallon sized pitcher and fill the rest of the way with water and mix. Perfect tea!

                1 Reply
                1. re: marshmallow78

                  Almost exactly how I make my sweet tea. I prefer Luzianne tea, and I steep for an hour. It's better if it chills overnight, because when it's not cold enough, it gets a little diluted by the ice, and the beauty of this recipe is that it's strong and sweet. My kids put about an inch of orange juice in their glasses, add ice, then add tea - it's pretty good, but I prefer it straight myself.

                2. I make sun tea. 1 gallon of filtered water with 8-10 bags of tea. I usually let it brew for 8 hours but I have let it go as long as 12. The long low temperature brewing results in a full flavored tea w/o the bitter tannins.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: Kelli2006

                    I *used* to make sun tea till I read that sun steeped tea is the "perfect medium for bacteria to grow in." http://www.colostate.edu/orgs/safefoo...
                    Since then I've been making it the traditional way, boiling water, etc. However, after reading Merryworld's method above I can't wait to try that way.

                    1. re: Gio

                      Gio, I have read all of the published information and that it cannot be served in a restaurant, but I have never had a problem myself. The water is chlorinated and the tea is full of tannins.

                      I am not a biologist, but it would seem that the environment of tea would be very toxic to any bacteria.

                      1. re: Kelli2006

                        Sure, whatever tannins are present will tend to inhibit bacterial growth, and the fact that most people who drink sun tea don't get sick is a testament to their effectiveness. But tannins take time to make it into the water as the tea steeps. Meanwhile, if you sweeten at the beginning of the process, you've got warm sugar water, which is indeed a perfect bacterial growth medium.

                        It was my college roommate (who is a biologist) that convinced me to stop brewing sun tea. His description of production conditions at a tea plantation in Darjeeling created a somewhat different image than the pure white bags in the Lipton box. Suffice it to say that, like many food products in the third world, you may want to consider making sure the stuff has been exposed to heat before you ingest it.

                        Of course, everybody has to make their own decisions about what risks to take. I regularly consume rare home-ground burgers, pink pork chops, and raw eggs because they taste better than the alternative.

                        If you find sun tea's flavor preferable to that of hot-brewed tea, drink it in good health. And if that fails, in moderate discomfort, assuming that you're not very young, very old, or immunocompromised.

                        1. re: alanbarnes

                          Kelli, the last time I made sun tea - lo these several years ago.... the glass jug with brass fittings I made it in developed a cloudy mist on the inside of the jug and the spigot crusted over.... on the inside. I flushed the whole thing down the toilet. I suppose that was not the correct way to dispose of the dang liquid, but I couldn't get rid of it fast enough. Threw the jug away as well. Recycled, of course. LOL
                          It was such a nice looking jug too. : (

                          1. re: Gio

                            I have a 1 gallon glass jug with a plastic lid that can be sanitized with a bleach solution.

                            My typical iced tea blend is either Lipton or Luzianne bagged tea in 1 gallon of cool water. Alan, I am well aware of the bacteria that can breed from the processing/picking locations, but I do not add any sugar when I brew. I use city water that has been filtered thought a Brita pitcher, and I transfer the finished tea to a separate sanitized pitcher.

                            I tend to drink my tea unsweetened, or maybe a bit of lemon. My daughter likes it a bit sweeter, so I keep a pint of simple syrup in a plastic squeeze bottle in the refrigerator door.

                            My mother made this tea when I was a child, and I have made it in this method for 20 years, and I am unaware of anyone has ever gotten sick because of it.

                            I have made tea via the hot brew method, but I don't care for the bitter flavors that are extracted.

                  2. I forget where I got this from (I think maybe Cat Cora's Cooking from the Hip), but I really love this (although probably not for a tea purist).

                    Peach Iced Tea
                    boil 4 cups of water
                    add 4 tea bags and let steep 5 minutes
                    let cool
                    add 4 cups peach nectar
                    serve with peach slices and mint sprigs

                    For me, this is peach-musky, fresh, and just sweet enough. I've also made iced green tea with guava nectar using this method that was also fantastic.

                    1 Reply
                    1. Here's my easy-peasy method for no-fail tea to be served over ice...

                      Fill a two-quart Pyrex measure (batter bowl) with water. Add 2 Luzianne family-sized tea bags, plus 2 regular sized Constant Commet tea bags and 2 Plantation Mint tea bags. (Or, if you want it just plain, use 2 more Luzianne family-sized tea bags.)

                      Microwave on high for 8 minutes.

                      If you want sweet tea, stir in 1/4 - 1/2 cup sugar (or more if you want it REALLY sweet) while it is hot. Stir until sugar dissolves.

                      Remove tea bags and cool enough to refrigerate. Pour into a two quart jug or two Mason jars and refrigerate.

                      If you want to use it immediately, let it steep a bit after the microwave, or use a bit less water, then pour over ice. But, it's better if you can let it cool before serving.

                      1. I like making sun tea with 20 standard teabags per gallon of water...I also add several sprigs of mint to my jar and "brew" for about 2 hours...I add approx 1.5 cups of sugar and viola!! Mint Sun Tea! I'm so addicted. With Tetley tea, I notice they're the bigger bags so I do 3 cups water/bag so I do 18 cups of water per 6 teabags and add 2 cups of sugar

                        1. I brew tea every day or every other day.

                          I bring a tea kettle to a boil and pour it into an old drip coffee carafe I've saved for this purpose.

                          I add two family size bags of decaf tea. I use Lipton, Luzianne or my store brand depending on what was on sale.

                          I also add two or three regular sized bags of green tea, one or two of Jasmine and one or two of Darjeeling, Oolong, Black, White, etc.

                          This makes a very, very, very strong tea which I pour into a pitcher when cool. This goes into the fridge and when I want a glass of tea I fill a mason jar with ice and about three fifth's with water and the rest with the undiluted tea. Add a tablespoon or so of turbinado sugar, screw the lid on and give it a good shake.

                          I drink a couple of jars-full daily.

                          Refreshing. I love the little sugar left on the bottom as I crunch the ice as well.

                          It's "dessert".

                          1 Reply
                          1. I use one of the "gold" Mr. Coffee type filters. I use a wooden spoon to suspend it over the pot and pour the water through to dampen the tea so it doesn't float out as the water rises. Then I bring the water to a boil and let it steep.