Tuesday, July 30, 2019

How to Make Cold Brew Tea (For The Best Iced Tea)

Learn how to make the best cold brew tea at home with only a few minutes of prep! No fancy equipment required & the fridge does all the work. This recipe is so easy & simple you'll kick yourself for not trying it sooner. Make a batch today so you can sip on smooth, refreshing tea (with no bitterness) all week long.

How To Make Cold Brew Tea (Easy Recipe For The Best Iced Tea)

I love figuring out how to make a homemade version of specific foods or drinks my better half becomes obsessed with because it saves us lots of money. And my version usually ends up tasting just as good if not better.

Like my homemade cold brew coffee. He used to pay almost $5 for a 16 oz bottle of fancy, local cold-brewed coffee from our local grocery store. Guys, it was nothing more than coffee grounds (albeit good coffee) + water!

Now I keep my DIY version (it's ridiculously easy to make) stocked in our fridge almost year-round (he prefers iced coffee even in the winter months).

But when the weather switched to full-on summertime temps (90-100 degrees every day), he started buying bottles of tea from the gas station to quench his thirst in between the coffee. Those are $1.50-2.00 a pop, which adds up fast!

Now that my beau is drinking the stuff like crazy (green or black mostly), I started making big pitchers of tea again.

I used to cold brew black tea & hibiscus tea just for myself the first few years I lived in Texas (my beau wasn't remotely interested in it then). Eventually, I became obsessed with hot herbal teas (peppermint, nettle, holy basil, chamomile, etc.) and fell out of habit. But now I'm back into iced tea!

How To Make Cold Brew Tea (Easy Recipe For The Best Iced Tea)

My favorites right now are this SPORTea blend (it's super refreshing & tasty with a mix of healthy ingredients) and either plain hibiscus tea or the passion tea blend (I get it iced & unsweetened from Barnes & Noble or Starbucks). It's slightly tangy & citrusy (super refreshing) and has a good amount of vitamin C!

For today's post, I did three separate batches of cold brew tea: black (caffeinated), green (caffeinated), and hibiscus (caffeine-free). The hibiscus doesn't have any ice in the pictures because I ran out while photographing. Oops. 

However, for cold brew tea, keep in mind that you don't have to keep your flavors separate like you do with hot tea. (Ex: Black tea has a short brew time & can become bitter if it steeps too long in hot water.)
So, for cold brew, you can pick any flavor or type (caffeinated or caffeine-free) and even mix & match different ones (green, white, black, hibiscus, oolong, peppermint, peach, raspberry, chamomile, nettle, etc.) to create a unique combo.

How To Make Cold Brew Tea (Easy Recipe For The Best Iced Tea)

Updated Recipe + Cold Brew Tea F.A.Q. (Scroll To The Bottom For The Recipe If You Have No Questions)

I originally shared this cold brew tea recipe & brewing method on the blog back in 2013, and have decided to re-photograph, re-write it & update the recipe to reflect how I'm making it today (6 years later) + answer common questions many folks have about cold brewing tea. If you've been using my original recipe since the beginning, I hope you still find this updated and more specific version helpful. :)

If you have any questions, peruse through the following section. If not, scroll down to the recipe.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ): Cold Brew Tea

1. How is Cold Brew Tea Made? Is it Different or Better Than Hot Tea?

Cold-brew tea is made by steeping either bagged or loose tea in a container of water slowly (over 8-24 hours) in the refrigerator at a cold temperature. If you plan on drinking your tea iced, this method is better (in my opinion) because the tea tastes very smooth with no bitterness and it comes out slightly sweet so you don't have to add as much sweetener (if you like it that way). When you're brewing certain teas with hot water (like black teas), you have to be careful not to let them steep for too long before they become bitter. I haven't had this problem with the cold brew method.

2. Do I Need To Buy Special Bags or Equipment to Make Cold Brew Tea at Home?

NOPE! You can use the same single-serve tea bags or loose leaf teas you keep around for hot tea. The only difference between the regular tea bags and the cold brew ones sold at the store is the size of the bags (they're generally bigger with more tea in them - some are labeled "family size") and in some cases, the tea is ground a bit finer. You'll also need a glass, ceramic, or plastic container for steeping the tea in the fridge. Really, that's it!

3. What Kind of Vessel Should I Use For Making & Serving Cold Brew Tea?

I prefer to steep my tea in large containers with a lid on them to keep the tea fresh (so it doesn't absorb any odors from the fridge). You could get a big glass beverage dispenser with a pour spout built-in and then anytime you want a glass you can open the fridge and serve yourself without taking anything out.

I also like to use my large glass pitchers for infusing (the same ones I keep around for wine spritzers and white wine sangria) but if you're keeping the tea in the fridge for more than a day, you'll need to cover the tops with a towel or plastic wrap.

For serving the cold brew tea, I love mason jars (these mason jar mugs with handles are super cute), wine glasses, or juice jars. If you're making drinks for a party, holiday, or wedding celebration, these mason jars come with handles & chalkboard labels) so you can write each person's name on the outside.

How To Make Cold Brew Tea (Easy Recipe For The Best Green, Black or Herbal Iced Tea)

4. What Kind of Teas Can I Cold Brew?

In theory, pretty much any tea. However, they might not all turn out as good as a hot brew tea. I've had good luck with plain black teas with orange pekoe (Lipton, Luzianne), green teas, hibiscus teas, a few green + black + herbal blends, and several other caffeine-free herbal teas.

However, I have not tried special tea blends like chai yet. I'm guessing if the blend is fine enough you'd be good to go, but if the mix has big chunks of spices (like the cinnamon, which is probably cassia) it might take a while to extract the flavor. Or the opposite could happen & it could turn out really strong. If you try to cold brew chai before I do, let me know how it turns out!

5. Should I Use Bagged or Loose Tea for Cold Brew?

It's a personal preference. Do you have coffee filters, a nut bag, or cheesecloth on hand for filtering out the wet loose tea leaves? Then go ahead with the loose-leaf if you have it. Don't want to mess around with filtering out the small bits? Go with tea bags instead.

6. What Ratio of Tea to Water Should I Use?

These days my base recipe is at least 6 tablespoons of tea to 3 quarts (96 ounces) of water for cold brew tea. Right now my beau likes it a bit stronger, so I've bumped it up to 8-9 tablespoons for 3 quarts. It depends on how you like your tea, but I personally think it's smarter to make it stronger because you can always add more water to dilute it.

Want to make this with regular, single-serve tea bags? I opened up a couple of different brands to measure how much tea is in each bag. I found that the single-serve bags contain a little more than 3/4 teaspoon of tea leaves. The ounces vary based on the type of tea, but the physical measurement is the same. The ones labeled "family size" (like for the Luzianne black tea bags pictured above) contain a little over 1 tablespoon of tea leaves.

So, if you want to follow my first ratio above but with those small tea bags, you'd need 24 single-serve tea bags approximately (totally about 6 tablespoons of loose tea if you dumped them out). For the stronger batch, you'd want 32-36 tea bags. Using the family size bags, that'd be 6 of them for the normal batch and 8 for a stronger batch. Double-check my math on that! :P

7. Does Cold Brew Tea Need To Be Refrigerated?

YES! You brew it in the fridge and then you keep it in the fridge. We don't want any bacteria building up in the tea. This is why I prefer to do cold brew instead of sun tea. The latter is fun & nostalgic but I trust cold brew more.

How To Make Cold Brew Tea (Easy Recipe For The Best Iced Tea)

8. How Long Does Cold Brew Tea Last?

My batches typically disappear within a week. As a rule of thumb (as you'll see on the labels of most commercial beverages that don't contain preservatives), once you open something, it's ideal to consume it in 5-7 days. And you definitely want to follow this advice if you plan to add fresh ingredients (like herbs or fruits) to your cold brew tea, as that will shorten the shelf life.

9. What's The Best Way to Sweeten Homemade Cold Brew Tea?

If you want a sweetener that dissolves quickly into cold tea (or another beverage) when you stir it, use a liquid sweetener like honey, maple syrup, or simple syrup (sugar + water that's been reduced to thicken it).

If you prefer a granular sweetener (cane sugar, brown sugar, coconut sugar, etc.) but don't want to make a simple syrup, try this instead: mix your sweetener with equal parts room temperature water in a separate container, stir until dissolved, and dump that into the cold brew tea. Taste & repeat until it's sweet enough to your liking.

My #1 Tip For Making Cold Brew Tea

Use purified water (not tap)! This is the single most important thing affecting the taste of your tea because it's the primary ingredient. The same goes for cold brew coffee or anything that's infused in water.

Before you make anything, take a BIG ol' drink of whatever water you plan to use and make sure it tastes good to you with nothing in it.

If it tastes gross or off or has a weird aftertaste...don't use it. Period. Grab a few gallons of purified drinking water from the store (not distilled or spring), that has been filtered via reverse osmosis so it doesn't taste like crud.

Feeling Hungry? More Recipes To Pair With Your Cold Brew Tea:

recipe, iced tea, green, black, hibiscus
Yield: 3 quarts (12 cups or 96 ounces)

How to Make Cold Brew Tea (For The Best Iced Tea)

How to Make Cold Brew Tea (For The Best Iced Tea)

prep time: 5 Mcook time: total time: 5 M (plus 8-12 hours for chilling)
Learn how to make the best cold brew tea at home with only a few minutes of prep! No fancy equipment required & the fridge does all the work. This recipe is so easy & simple you'll kick yourself for not trying it sooner. Make a batch today so you can sip on smooth, refreshing tea all week long.


  • 6-8 tablespoons of loose leaf tea OR 24-32 regular, single-serve tea bags OR 6-8 "family size" tea bags
  • 3 quarts (96 ounces) of purified water
Optional Mix-Ins (added before infusing):
  • fresh herbs (mint, rosemary, basil)
  • fresh citrus slices (lemon, lime, orange)
  • fresh sliced fruit (strawberries, blueberries, cherries, raspberries, watermelon)
  • fresh ginger, thinly sliced


How to cook How to Make Cold Brew Tea (For The Best Iced Tea)

  1. Combine the purified water and tea (loose leaf or tea bags) in a large pitcher (glass, plastic, or ceramic). If desired, add fresh herbs, citrus, fruit, etc. (muddle them first to help extract more flavor). 
  2. Cover the pitcher and place it in the refrigerator to chill & infuse. Steep the tea for 8-12 hours, then taste it. I'm usually happy with 12 hours of infusing, but you can stick it back in for another 12 hours (24 hours total) if you want a stronger flavor with a bit more caffeine. If you like light tasting tea, you might find it tasty after only 4-6 hours.
  3. When you're ready to drink, remove & discard the tea bags along with any fresh ingredients (fruit, herbs, etc.) OR strain & discard the loose leaves and fresh ingredients through a cheesecloth, nut milk bag, or coffee filter. 
  4. Serve the tea chilled (with or without ice) and sweeten to taste, if desired. Keep the cold brew tea covered in the fridge and consume within a week (5 days if fresh ingredients are used).


I found that my single-serve tea bags contain 3/4 teaspoon of leaves and my family-sized tea bags contain 1 tablespoon of leaves, so my recipe measurements are based on those figures. If you're using a different sized tea bag, follow the ratios recommended on the side of the box or bag. Alternately, you can cut open one of the tea bags and measure it that way to see how many bags you'll need to get 6-8 tablespoons worth of loose-leaf tea.
Created using The Recipes Generator

Learn how to make the best cold brew tea at home with only a few minutes of prep! No fancy equipment required & the fridge does all the work. This recipe is so easy & simple you'll kick yourself for not trying it sooner. Make a batch today so you can sip on smooth, refreshing tea (with no bitterness) all week long

Did You Make This Recipe?
I'd love to hear your thoughts on how it went! Please leave a comment here on the blog, on Pinterest via the "tried it" feature, or use the hashtag #therisingspoon & tag @therisingspoon when you share pics to Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. It helps me to get feedback on my creations and it totally makes my day. :)

How to Cold Brew Tea: The Best Method for Making Iced Tea
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