The first official day of summer upon us, so we dusted off our air conditioner, got an ice machine, and started serving the majority of our tea samples chilled. So, you bought some of our delicious loose tea to make at home, but the instructions read, “Use 1 teaspoon of leaves per 8 oz of water at 212 degrees for 3 minutes.” 212 degrees Fahrenheit? That’s boiling water! What if you want your tea cold?
We’re going to take you through the process of making iced tea, using a variety of methods we at The Green Teahouse use every day, along with pros, cons, and even some insider tips!
Method 1: Hot to cold. Probably the most obvious way to turn hot tea into cold tea is by brewing it hot and sticking it in the refrigerator for about 8-10 hours. Follow the same steeping instructions otherwise.
Healthy: A great way to retain the nutritional benefits of the leaves. Hot water is the best way to make the leaves exfoliate so they can release their famous antioxidants.
Easy customization: Honey and sugar melt easily in hot temperatures, so this method is great if you like sweeteners in your tea.
Time-consuming: The time it takes for water to cool from tea-steeping temperature is 8-10 hours in a fridge. Not ideal if your tea craving can’t wait.
High-maintenance: When making a leafy tea, such as a green, black, or pure oolong, you should strain all the leaves after the recommended steeping time, or risk your tea becoming bitter.
Method 2: Cold to cold. If you want to make a lot of iced tea, but don’t have the time to put the kettle on, infuse the leaves in room-temperature water for 4-5 hours. Follow same steeping instructions otherwise.
Fast: You can make greater quantities of tea in a shorter amount of time, and leaves will fully expand after 4-5 hours (for maximum flavor), and you don’t need to wait for the water to cool.
Low-maintenance: Certain leaves can burn when made with boiling water, resulting in bitter tea. Using this method ensures that no leaves are ruined, with the added benefit of not having to strain them!
Not as nutritious: Hot water allows the tea leaves to exfoliate so that antioxidants can be released from the pores. Cold water = less antioxidants extracted.
Harder to customize: If you like your tea sweet, you’ll find that using this method is a little more problematic. You’ll need to leave room for some water (boiling, to melt down your additives).
Method 3: Instant iced tea. If you order a cup of iced tea from our teahouse, you’ll see this method in action. Heat up your water and make the tea very strong (almost twice the strength of regular tea; use 5 ounces of water where you’d normally use 8). When the tea’s ready, pour it over an equivalent volume of ice (for a 16 oz. cup, we use a 16 oz. scoop of ice cubes and pour a 10 oz. cup of tea onto it). Some ice will melt to dilute the concentrated tea, while the rest floats to the top, ensuring a frosty cup!
Quick & easy: Because you’re brewing it hot, your beverage will only take 2-3 minutes to fully infuse. This is a great method for someone who wants a cup of tea to go!
Healthy: As previously stated, hot-steeping extracts more vitamins and antioxidants from tea leaves. You get the age-old health benefits, plus the convenience of an easy-to-drink iced cup!
Tweaking required: When concentrating tea, getting the right ratio of ice to water can be tough. Ice cubes come in many shapes and sizes; knowing how your ice displaces can take trial and error.
Lots of ice needed: Your typical ice cube tray holds around 16 ice cubes, which is enough ice for 2-3 cups of tea. If you want to make a large quantity of tea, be prepared to refill a lot of trays.
If you need some iced-steeping equipment, I suggest our Lotus Blossom Glass Teapot. This pitcher is made of heat-tempered glass and has measuring marks on the side in both metric and standard units. There’s a straining mesh in the lid, so the tea leaves are filtered out once you pour. With a 34 oz (1 liter) capacity, this teapot is perfect for making larger quantities of tea.
All of our teas can be made either hot or iced, so whether you like your tea fruity, nutty, earthy, grassy, leafy, spicy, or minty, The Green Teahouse has what you need. So, find the process that best fits your needs and start steeping!