How to Make Iced Tea

By James Holloway

Start to finish: 10 minutes plus cooling time

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Servings: 6

Difficulty: Beginner

A refreshing glass of iced tea cools you down on a warm day and provides a little pick-me-up. It's a simple drink to make, although you need a little time to prepare it. Once you master the basic procedure for making iced tea, you can sweeten or flavor it to create the perfect brew for you.


  • 1.5 quarts water
  • 16 teabags or teaspoons of loose-leaf tea


Boil 1.5 quarts of water in a kettle or saucepan; add the teabags or loose-leaf tea. Allow the tea to steep; the exact time varies depending on the tea, but for most black teas it should be around 3 to 5 minutes.

Remove the teabags or strain the tea and transfer it to a pitcher. Allow the tea to cool, then refrigerate it.

Tips and Variations


  • The exact ratio of tea to water depends on your taste and the flavor of tea you're using. In general, though, cold tea requires a stronger brew to achieve the same flavor. Don't worry if it seems like you're using more tea than you normally would.
  • If you're brewing green tea, don't let the water boil completely; instead, heat it to just below boiling, around 160 to 180 degrees.
  • To sweeten iced tea, add caster sugar while the tea is still hot; the hot tea will dissolve the sugar crystals, which would otherwise sink to the bottom of cold tea. If you want to sweeten cold iced tea, mix in simple sugar syrup; boil equal parts sugar and water until the sugar dissolves, then add the resulting syrup to taste.


  • Add a refreshing citrus note to your iced tea by adding a dash of lemon juice -- or even a cup of orange juice -- while the tea is still hot.
  • Steep mint leaves in the still-hot tea for 10 minutes for an extra cooling touch.
  • To speed up the cooling process, reduce the amount of water to brew a concentrated tea, then dilute it with cold water.