How to Make Iced Tea - A Loose Leaf Tea Guide

Aug 15, 2023
How to Make Iced Tea - How to Make Sun Tea - How to Make Sweet Tea

In the dog daze of summer nothing hits the spot like iced tea. Apparently American's agree, as 85% of tea consumed is consumed iced. It's one thing to grab an iced tea in town, or at a restaurant, but how do you make iced tea at home? We are going to dive into just that today and all while saving you money on your budget!

In recent years, the popularity of loose-leaf tea has been on the rise, and for good reason. Not only does loose-leaf tea provide a superior taste and aroma compared to tea packaged in tea bags, but it also eliminates the potential health risks associated with microplastics and bleach found in tea bags. Let’s dive deep into the various methods of making iced tea from loose-leaf tea. We’ll talk about how to make iced tea, sun tea, and sweet tea, along with the tools required for each. And we’ll give you step-by-step recipes for each type of tea, with suggestions for loose-leaf tea and natural sweetener alternatives for sweet tea for those that want to avoid sugar.

 

 The Legal Stuff

The contents of this blog are made available via St. Fiacre's Farm LLC through Grow Create Sip and Farmhouse Teas and are for informational purposes only. This blog does not constitute medical advice; the content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you think you may be suffering from any medical condition, you should seek immediate medical attention. You should never delay seeking medical advice disregard medical advice or discontinue medical treatment because of information provided by St. Fiacre's Farm, Farmhouse Teas or Grow  Create Sip. Reliance on any information provided by this webinar is solely your own risk. St. Fiacre's Farm LLC (along with Farmhouse Teas and Grow Create Sip) is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate program designed to provide a means for our team to earn fees for recommending our favorite products! Along with additional affiliate programs not associated with Amazon. We may earn a small commission, at no additional cost to you, should you purchase an item after clicking one of our links. Thanks for supporting us!

 

 

Why Tea Bags are Not Healthy

  1. Micro Plastics: The #1 reason you should avoid tea packaged in tea bags is Micro Plastics. The presence of microplastics in tea bags poses many potential health risks. These tiny, tiny particles can leach into the tea when steeped in hot water, which means you are consuming them with each cup you drink.
  2. Bleach: The #2 reason that you should avoid tea packaged in tea bags is that tea bags are often treated with chlorine bleach to whiten the bag. You wouldn’t drink a cup of bleach, so why would you want this in your nice cup of tea? The harmful effects of bleach exposure can add up and can definitely affect your health when consumed regularly.

 

If tea bags are unhealthy, then what is the alternative to buying pre-packaged tea? The answer is obvious my friends: loose-leaf tea solves the problem! But, can you use loose-leaf tea the same way you would tea bags from the store? Let’s find out more.

 

Photo by Kayla Joy Creative 

 

Can you use loose tea for iced tea?

Absolutely! Loose-leaf tea is an excellent choice for making iced tea. It actually allows for a more nuanced and complex flavor profile than the finely processed tea in the tea bags that you buy at the store. Loose tea leaves are higher quality than a bagged tea because loose leaf teas are a whole leaf tea. Often tea that comes in tea bags are a powder and referred to as bottom of the barrel tea. This tea is usually called tea dust and enhanced with synthetic flavorings to give it any flavor at all. Or if you are use to drinking a black tea in a bag you will get a strong bitter flavor because it steeps much too strong to fast when it is ground and powder. Typically, you can purchase whole loose leaf teas in a wider range of options and flavors including black, green, white, herbal, and flavored teas. 

 

How to Make Iced Tea with Loose Leaf Tea

Choose the Right Tea

Opt for loose-leaf tea varieties that are well-suited for making iced tea, such as black tea, green tea, white tea, or herbal tea blends, also known as tisanes. You might be asking, “Okay, but what other kinds of teas are there?” The answer is, not many. Really you can ice any kind of tea, but the best ice teas are made with bold blends or fruity flavors. 

 

Flavored Iced Tea Ideas

Fruity Iced Tea Options

 

Minty Iced Tea Options

Flavored Black Iced Tea Options

Flavored Green Tea Options

 

 

Equipment Needed for Brewing Iced Tea

The equipment required to make iced tea is very basic. You really only need two things:

  1. Tea Infuser: A tea infuser or a strainer is needed for straining the tea leaves from your brew. You can use a cloth, metal, or mesh infuser. But the easiest way, and my personal favorite, to brew and strain my tea is using my trusty French Press.
  2. Heat-resistant Pitcher: Always use glass or stainless steel. Never plastic. We already discussed how we don’t want those microplastics in our brew, well, we don’t want our hot water leaching plastic from our pitcher into our brew either. If choosing glass, be sure your pitcher is heat-resistant like this one. It’s handy if your pitcher has a lid for storage in the fridge. If you don’t have a pitcher that is heat resistant, consider using a 4-cup size Pyrex measuring cup  Most people have those lying around their kitchens. You can brew your tea in that and strain out your tea leaves when you transfer to your fancy pitcher for serving. If you are using a stainless steel pitcher, be sure that it is high quality since it will be repeatedly exposed to heat. We like this one. Don’t have a pitcher? No worries. Quart or half-gallon mason jars with a lid work just great for keeping your tea cold and fresh in the fridge.

 

What is the ratio of tea to water for iced tea?

The ideal ratio of loose leaf tea to water for making iced tea is approximately 4-5 perfect teaspoons per quart of water. This can be adjusted based on personal preference and taste. If you prefer a stronger brew, increase the amount of tea leaves or steep for a longer period.

Making iced tea from loose leaf tea is not only a healthier alternative to tea bags but also allows you to use higher quality tea, experiment with new flavors, and try new tea and herb combinations. Now you know how to create refreshing iced tea, sun tea, and sweet tea using loose leaf tea. Remember to choose high-quality loose leaf teas, steep your brew in filtered water, and have fun coming up with new combos and flavors until you land on your favorite summer brew!

 

 

 

 

Step-by-Step Recipe for Iced Tea

    1. Heat your water. Start with good quality, filtered water. Let the water come to a boil and then just cool. Using water that has just come off the boil but is not still actively boiling will give you the best infusion.

    2. Add the desired amount of loose-leaf tea to your heat-proof brewing vessel. Typically 5-8 tsp of loose-leaf tea will brew about a half gallon of iced tea depending on how strong you like it.

    3. Either place the infuser or strainer in your brewing vessel and pour the hot water over the tea leaves. Or you can brew the tea loose in a heat-proof container, and then strain the leaves out when you pour the tea into the pitcher that you plan to use for serving. 

    4. Allow the tea to steep for 5-10 minutes according to tea package instructions, or until cool depending on the desired strength of your brew. Note: Some black and green tea blends become bitter when steeped too long, so follow the directions for the steeping time that is listed on your tea package.

    5. After the steeping time is complete, either remove the infuser or strainer with the tea leaves or strain the leaves from your brewing vessel into a heat-proof glass or stainless steel storage/serving container.

    6. Let the tea cool to room temperature. Once cooled, refrigerate the tea until chilled. Serve over ice and enjoy! 

 

Grow Create Sip Pro Tip: Brew the full amount of tea in half the amount of hot water. You can add ice and more cool water once the steeping time is complete and your ice tea will be chilled and ready to serve faster this way.  

 

 

Making Sun Tea with Loose Leaf Tea

Sun tea is a simple, refreshing, age-old method for infusing all the goodness of your herbs and tea leaves into water. If you grew up in the 90's like me, perhaps your mom was a sun tea fanatic too. This is how we brewed sun tea in our house until my mom later got an official machine to make iced tea. 

However, it's important to take some safety precautions to ensure that the tea is brewed safely and free from harmful bacteria. 

 

 Top 3 tips for Brewing Tea in the Sun Safely

  1. Use clean and sanitized containers: Before brewing tea in the sun, make sure the containers, such as glass jars or pitchers, are thoroughly cleaned and sanitized. This helps prevent the growth of bacteria or other contaminants that can spoil the tea. Plus! Cleanliness is next to Godliness ;)
  2. Choose the right tea leaves: Opt for high-quality tea leaves mentioned previously. Find quality, organic loose leaf teas here
  3. Watch the brewing time and temperature: Pay attention to the duration and temperature of the brewing process. The tea should be brewed in direct sunlight for a specific duration, usually around 2 to 4 hours, depending on the desired strength of your tea and type of tea that you are using. Ensure that the temperature of the brewed tea remains below 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria. If the temperature rises above this threshold, it is advisable to discard the tea to avoid any potential health risks.

By following these three safety tips, you can enjoy a delicious and safely brewed tea in the sun just like my mama use to brew it!

 

Step-by-Step Recipe for Sun Tea

  1. Choose a clear glass container with a lid. A half gallon mason jar works great here.
  2. Add the desired amount of loose leaf tea to the container. Usually 5-8 tsp for about 60 ounces or a half gallon of water.
  3. Fill the container with cool, filtered water.
  4. Place the lid on the container and place in the sun for a minimum of 2 hours, or all day, depending on your desired strength.
  5. Once steeped, strain the tea leaves and refrigerate until chilled.
  6. Serve over ice and enjoy the naturally brewed sun tea!

 

 

Making Sweet Tea with Loose Leaf Tea

Before diving into how to make sweet tea with loose-leaf tea we need to make sure we have some healthy sweeteners on hand! There are a great many options to use without diving into harmful chemical sweeteners. We want to avoid things that have a "lose" in the end of their name  and other sugar derivative alternatives such as: sucralose, saccharin, xylitol (not digestible by the bacteria in our gut), erythritol, stevia (technically known as steviol glycosides), tagatose, allulose, d-ribose, daltitol and isomaltose. All of these items while marketed as sugar free alternatives actually came from sugar and still contains similar properties that are not necessarily beneficial to health. Don't worry though, there are plenty of other natural tasty substitutes to sugar to still love!

 

Natural Sweetener Alternatives for Sweet Tea

  1. Honey: Honey adds a subtle sweetness and depth of flavor to sweet tea. Add the honey when the tea is warm, and not hot, especially if you are using raw honey.

  2. Maple Syrup: Maple syrup offers a unique sweetness that compliments certain herbal brews quite well.

  3. Coconut Sugar: A nice option for people wanting to avoid refined sugar. 

  4. Stevia: Stevia is a non-caloric herbal sweetener. You can buy it in powdered form at the grocery store, but did you know that this is a highly processed form of stevia? Did you know that stevia is actually an herb? You can actually purchase loose-leaf stevia at some herbal supply stores and add that straight into your brew with your loose-leaf tea, and Viola! Your tea will automatically come out sweetened when you strain your tea leaves. As an alternative use a pure stevia leaf tincture in alcohol or glyercine for a ready to go simple addition for sweetening your tea.

 

Step-by-Step Recipe for Sweet Tea

    1. Heat your water. Start with good quality, filtered water. Let the water come to a boil and then just cool. Using water that has just come off the boil but is not still actively boiling will give you the best infusion.

    2.  Add the desired amount of loose-leaf tea to your heat-proof brewing vessel. Typically 5-8 tsp of loose-leaf tea will brew about a half gallon of iced tea depending on how strong you like it.

    3. Either place the infuser or strainer in your brewing vessel and pour the hot water over the tea leaves. Or you can brew the tea loose in a heat-proof container, and then strain the leaves out when you pour the tea into the pitcher that you plan to use for serving. 

    4. Allow the tea to steep for 5-10 minutes according to tea package instructions, or until cool depending on the desired strength of your brew. Note: Some black and green tea blends become bitter when steeped too long, so follow the directions for the steeping time that is listed on your tea package.

    5.  Once the tea has steeped and been strained but is still warm, add your preferred sweetener and stir until dissolved.

    6. Refrigerate until chilled.

    7.  Serve over ice. Add a bit of flare with a lemon wedge or umbrella.

 

 

 

   

Steeping the Perfect Cup of Tea

As you can see steeping the perfect cup of iced tea, sun tea, or sweet tea using loose leaf tea not only saves you the gunk that is found in those bleached, micro plastic filled tea bags. But using loose leaf tea also gets you big, bold flavor! Its also simple and just takes a strainer of some sort and you are off to the races! Pick your natural sweetener of choice, skipping those alternatives with -lose at the end and you have a healthier sweet tea made with loose leaf tea. If you would like to dive deeper into using loose leaf tea in your home make sure to check out our free tea steeping workshop here, it even comes with a free tea sample! 

Before you go though, I'd love to know, what is your favorite tea to serve chilled? After reading this are you going to try any new flavors from your usual? Leave me a comment below and see what other people are also planning on steeping to serve chilled! 


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