Here in the south iced tea is a way of life. Whether you like it sweet or unsweet, learning how to make homemade iced tea is the key to staying cool during a scorcher of a summer.
Traditional southern iced tea uses black tea bags – think Tetley or Lipton – steeped to double strength, then poured over a pitcher of ice. If you like it sweet, you add sugar while the tea is hot or use homemade simple syrup to get the cloyingly sweet tea that some southerners like best. But that’s not the end all in the land of iced tea.
If you are looking for something a little bit less traditional but equally refreshing, it’s easy to strike out in the land of iced tea. Different teas offer health benefits as varied as the dried herbs, spices, and flowers in the bag. Variety in your tea drinking, like variety in the rest of your diet, means more overall health benefits.
Related: 10 Proven Tea Health Benefits
My husband and I get on iced tea kicks sometimes, and we like to experiment with making homemade iced tea with different varieties. We lean more toward unsweet teas, so the ones below don’t need any sugar to cool and refresh.
– Homemade ginger tea – You can brew this from ginger tea bags or make it from fresh ginger. Spicy ginger might seem like an odd choice in summer, but it’s surprisingly refreshing, especially with a squeeze of lemon or lime.
– Hibiscus tea– I love hibiscus tea for its tang and beautiful, bright pink color. And of course my two-year-old prefers this hibiscus tea over other, less stain-prone teas. This tea really stands on its own.
– Mint tea – This is another one that you can brew from bags or from fresh mint. Cooling mint is so refreshing on a hot summer day!
How to Make Homemade Iced Tea: Recipes
Making iced tea is easy peasy, and it doesn’t take as long as you might think to brew a pot. To make an eight cup pot of tea, here’s the basic recipe:
Ingredients + Supplies
+ 8 tea bags, or enough herbs and spices to make 8 cups of tea
+ 4 cups of water
+ a tea kettle that holds at least 4 cups
+ plenty of ice
1. Place your tea bags into the tea kettle.
2. Bring your water to a boil and remove from the heat. When the water stops bubbling, pour it over your tea bags. Steep for 10-15 minutes. A good rule of thumb is to double the steeping time that you’d normally use. If you’re planning to sweeten, now is the time!
3. Fill two liter your pitcher with ice, then pour the steeped tea over the ice. It will be cold enough to drink almost immediately.
How to Make Custom Homemade Iced Tea
If you need some flavor ideas, our sister site Green Living Ideas shared a few recipes for making homemade iced tea from scratch. These are great recipes for getting yourself used to mixing your own custom iced tea blends. Each of the tea combos below steep for 10 minutes before you pour them over ice, using the basic recipe that I shared above.
Lemon Vanilla Tisane
1/2 chopped lemongrass (fresh or dried)
1/2 cup fresh lemon zest
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
4 chopped vanilla beans
Hot Pink Hibiscus Tea
1/2 Tablespoons dried hibiscus leaves
Lemon, to taste
Sweetener, to taste
Sweet Licorice Mint Tisane
3/4 cup dried peppermint leaf (or your favorite mint variety)
1/4 cup fennel seed
1/4 cup licorice root
To make the tea:
1. Place your ingredients into your tea kettle or a quart-sized mason jar. Pour four cups of not-quite-boiling water over the herbs and spices. Steep for 10 minutes.
2. Use a double layer of cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer to strain your tea into a pitcher full of ice. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 3 days.
Do you have a favorite method for how to make homemade iced tea? I’d love to hear your favorite tea combos in the comments!
Image Credits: Hibiscus tea photo via Shutterstock, Iced Tea Jars via Green Living Ideas