6 Steps for Better Iced Tea

Bust out the kettle and sun jar because June is National Iced Tea Month (who knew, right?). While the brewed beverage is great for keeping cool during the summer months, there are tons of other health benefits that make iced tea worth celebrating all year round. 

The calorie-free drink fights plague, boosts the immune system, and contains antioxidants that protect the body from the effects of aging and pollution. 

There is also evidence that drinking a few cups of green tea daily can help you fight obesity while protecting your heart.

In 2011, a group of scientists, whose study was published in the Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry, found that green tea activates fat burning genes while also helping to prevent the absorption of fat from the digestive tract. 

Plus, previous research has proven that green tea increases the metabolic rate. You can burn up to 80 extra calories a day just by drinking five cups of green tea every day. 

Another report published last year in the International Journal of Cardiology showed that the polyphenols in green tea reduce free radical damage to the genetic structure of heart cells. 

These heart-healthy benefits aren’t just limited to green tea. Researchers in the Netherlands also found that the risk of fatal heart attacks in people who drank several cups of black tea everyday was 70 percent lower than the risk level of individuals who did not drink tea. Additional evidence indicates that people who drink tea for a decade or more have stronger bones than non-tea drinkers. 

On top of the massive list of health benefits, this refreshing drink is easy to make and one of the cheaper beverages to serve to a large group of friends and family. Yep, iced tea has definitely earned its place in the sun. 

Take advantage of this powerful elixir of life using our step by step guide to making the perfect cup of iced tea:

Step 1: Get fresh with your tea

Most homemade iced teas are made with tea bags, which contain lower quality “tea dust” that has less body and flavor than whole-leaf tea. Tea leaves need room to expand to release their flavors, so tea bags are frequently shunned in the gourmet tea world. In exchange for spending a little extra on a premium, loose-leaf team, you are rewarded with deliciously unadulterated flavor. 

This...

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…Doesn’t taste the same as this. 

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Okay, confession: we are obsessed with Teavana’s tea selection! They always have free tea samples, so if you are lucky enough to live near one of these majestic beams of loose-leaf hope, go there and find out what amazing tastes like on Teavana’s dime. But we digress.

Step 2: Double Down

Once you have selected your loose-leaf tea, it is time to get down to business. Making homemade iced tea is a bit different from brewing hot tea. You will be using double the amount of loose leaf tea that you would use for hot tea.

General practice says that you should use 2 teaspoons per cup for big-leafed teas, like green and chamomile, and 1 teaspoon per cup for black teas, which have more compact leaves.

We have included a nifty little chart with the specific amounts needed for your iced tea, which can vary based on the type of tea you are using (black, green, white, etc.). 

Tea Type  Temp  Hot  Iced  Steep Time 
White Tea  175°F   1.5 tsp   3 tsp   4-5 min
Black Tea  195°F  1 tsp   2 tsp  2-3 min
Green Tea  175°F  1 tsp  2 tsp   1-2 min 
Oolong Tea   195°F   1 tsp  2 tsp  3 min

Step 3: Bring the heat, but not too much

Boil spring or filtered tap water in a kettle or saucepan. The minerals in tap water can create an off-taste when combined with the compounds found in leaves and mineral-free distilled water makes a flat-tasting brew. Bring your boil to 212°F if you are brewing black, herbal, or dark oolong teas. When making green, white, and light oolong teas, keep your water between 170° and 180°F, to prevent the tea from tasting bitter. 

Step 4: Sweeten the pot

Teavana uses rock sugar in their iced tea, which tastes super yummy. However, honey, agave syrup, maple sugar, and other natural sugar substitutes make equally delicious tea, so pick your favorite and go nuts (or don’t, if you are using tea as part of your weight loss plan). Add your sweetener to the tea while it steeps in hot water and allow it to dissolve.

Step 5:  Let it breathe

Give your tea some breathing room by allowing it to steep long enough to release the flavors, but not so long that the tannins and other bitter-tasting compounds overtake the brew. Black and dark oolong teas should steep for 3 to 5 minutes, while green, white, and light oolong teas only require 2 to 3 minutes of steeping time. 

Step 6: Cool down

After your tea is done steeping, remove the tea leaves and pour the liquid into a glass or pitcher filled almost to the top with ice. The sudden cooling keeps the flavor and scent of the tea intact.

Now go out there and make us proud by brewing one of these elegant thirst-quenchers:

Raspberry Iced Tea

Take your black tea to the next level with a sweet and tangy fresh raspberry infusion.

Hibiscus Pomegranate Iced Tea

This herbal iced tea blends sour, berry-flavored hibiscus tea with sweet pomegranate juice.

Lemon-Mint Green Jasmine Iced Tea

The mint and lemon combine with the mild, grassy flavor of green tea to create a cool, refreshing summer afternoon pick-me-up.

Citrus Earl Grey Iced Tea

Serve this perked up version of traditional Earl Grey tea at your next picnic or barbecue. The acidic orange juice in this recipe helps to preserve the antioxidant flavonoids in the tea.