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White iced tea in a glass with fresh herbs.

How to Make the Perfect Iced Tea

We are celebrating National Iced Tea Day this June 10th with a guide on how to make the perfect iced tea. While we drink iced tea year-round here in Memphis, there’s something so refreshing about sipping the perfect iced tea on a hot summer day. Whether you’re hosting a holiday barbecue or simply seeking refuge from the heat, perfecting your iced tea can elevate your summer beverage to new heights. With the proper brewing technique, fresh fruits and herbs, and the right type of tea leaves, unsweetened iced tea can be refreshing and delicious. In this blog, we’ll walk through the step-by-step process of making the perfect iced tea. 

  • Choosing the Right Tea Leaves
  • Brewing Techniques
  • Enhancing the Flavor
  • Chill and Serve

Choosing the Right Tea Leaves

The first step to the perfect iced tea is choosing the right tea leaves. While there are a wide variety of options depending on your preferred flavor profile, some types are more popular than others. 

Black Tea - A classic choice for iced tea because of its bold and robust flavors. Black tea is often the base for traditional iced tea recipes. 

A few of our favorites: Black Currant Decaf, Georgia Sunshine, Tahitian Twist

Green Tea - Known for its grassy flavor and health benefits, green tea is delicious when brewed and chilled. Try it with a hint of citrus. 

A few of our favorites: Mango Tango, Gogiberry Green, Japanese Cherry

Herbal & Fruit Blends - These teas offer a wide range of flavors and are caffeine-free. Their natural sweetness makes them a popular choice for iced teas. 

A few of our favorites: Cherry Kiwi Coconut, Lemon Herbal, Very Berry Cherry

White Tea - Delicate and subtle in flavor, white tea is perfect for those who prefer a milder taste. 

A few of our favorites: White Orchard, White Peach

Oolong Tea - Oolong falls somewhere between green and black tea. This delicious balance of flavors is typically floral and fruity. 

A few of our favorites: Lemon Basil, Goji Berry Peach Oolong

When choosing which tea you want to brew, remember that it should ultimately be based on your personal flavor preferences. 

Brewing Techniques

There are a two brewing methods that can give you the perfect pitcher of iced tea. 

Hot Brew Method

This traditional method involves steeping tea leaves in hot water before cooling the completed brew. Follow the following steps:

  • Bring filtered water to a boil (212° F) , then remove it from the heat.
  • Place the instructed amount of tea in the bottom of your cup or pitcher.
  • Slowly pour the hot water over the tea.
  • Allow to steep for 5 minutes.
  • Remove the tea filter, add water, ice, and fruits or herbs. 

Cold Brew Method

The cold brew method takes significantly longer but produces a more robust flavor. Follow these steps:

  • Add cold water to a pitcher.
  • Place the tea filter in the pitcher.
  • Allow tea to steep for 15-36 hours in the fridge.
  • Remove the filter, add fruit or herbs, and serve.

Enhancing the Flavor

There are so many ingredients you can add to iced tea in order to enhance the flavor. Some are healthy, and some not so much. 

The easiest and healthiest way to enhance your iced tea is with fruits like fresh lemon, lime, or orange juice. You can also add an entire slice of fruit and allow it to steep for a bit to infuse your tea with their natural flavor. In our Black Currant Decaf, we like to add a few handfuls of fresh blackberries.

Fresh herbs like mint or basil can be a great addition to teas that already have an herbal flavor, such as our Lemon Basil. The women grow these herbs here at My Cup of Tea, so we have lots of fresh herbs available. 

Sweeteners like granulated sugar, honey, agave syrup, or sugar substitutes are extremely common enhancements for iced tea, especially in the South. However, overdoing it on the sugar can contradict the health benefits of the tea itself. If you’re wanting to enhance your iced tea with some sweetness in a more streamlined way, we offer 10 flavors of honey spoons from cinnamon to orange blossom. Remember that honey spoons should be added while the tea is still hot. 

Chill and Serve

The final and most important part of making the perfect iced tea - the ice! If you haven’t already, transfer your hot tea to a pitcher and add cold water. Typically, the ratio of tea to cold water is 1:3, but it’s heavily dependent on your personal taste buds. At this point in the process, you can add any additional enhancements that you haven’t already. Place the completed iced tea into the fridge for 1-2 hours until it reaches the desired temperature. Once chilled, serve in a big class with lots of ice and any garnishes you’d like! 

Shop My Cup of Tea

Now that you know how to make the perfect iced tea, it’s time to choose which tea you want to experiment with. While we do have a wide variety of iced teas available, you can use any of our teas to create your favorite summer beverage. You can also catch up with Cheryl on our Youtube to learn more about how she prepares 4 of her favorite iced teas. 

My Cup of Tea is a non-profit in Memphis, TN that serves as an office, packing hub, retail store, and place of refuge for the women of Orange Mound. Our mission is to provide women in our community with the tools they need to thrive. We import the highest quality tea from tea estates and gardens in the Far East where they are weighed, re-formatted, and packaged for sale by the women who work here. Your purchase of our teas or other products opens a pathway for positive change and upward mobility for the courageous women who create them.

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