Cold brew is practically synonymous with coffee—but you can cold brew tea, too. In fact, it’s the perfect way to make iced tea. Instead of boiling water on a hot day (or making a batch of warm sun tea), cold brewing iced tea gets you a tastier, less watery, less tannin-heavy and less bitter final product.
Even better: Making cold brew—whether it’s coffee or with tea—is one of those “set it and forget it” processes, especially if you have a user-friendly cold brew maker. Follow these simple steps, and you’ll be enjoying a delightful and refreshing beverage in no time.
How to Cold Brew Tea
- Add tea (and any extra ingredients) to the brewing container of your cold brew maker. If you’re using loose leaf tea, opt for 16 grams (about 8 tablespoons) of tea, or 8 tea bags. Add fresh fruit like lemon slices or raspberries, or herbs like mint or basil if you’d like.
- Pour 32 ounces of cold water into the brewing container through the rainmaker top.
- Let it rest. Leave your tea to steep overnight, or at least for five hours, on the counter.
- Drain the tea. Put the carafe in the brewing stand, and press the release switch to let the tea drain out.
- Add water or juice to taste. Tea brewed this way may have a strong and intense flavor, so you may want to add water or juice to the mix to get the perfect blend.
Cold Brew Iced Tea Hacks
Creating your perfect brew isn’t an exact science. This is an opportunity to have fun and experiment with your tea choices, brew time and add-ins until you land on a recipe that suits your palate.
Brew with a mix of teas. Rather than going with the traditional black tea, try chai, jasmine green tea, herbal tea or even a mix of tea types. Think: Black tea with a fruitier variety for an all-tea twist on the classic Arnold Palmer.
Tinker with your timing. You should let the tea steep for five to 12 hours—but you may need to experiment to find where in that range you’ll land based on your tea and taste. In general, strong teas like green and black tea should steep for less time, while subtler strains like white tea can sit longer.
Add fruit or herbs. Add fruit during the cold brew process to allow the flavors to steep into your tea. Citrus like lemons, limes and oranges are classic choices; but berries, cherries, watermelon and peaches are delicious as well. You can also add fresh herbs like mint, basil, rosemary and thyme.
Sweeten your cold brew tea. If you’re cold brewing, granulated sugar won’t fully dissolve in your final product—meaning you’ll end up with gritty iced tea. If you want your tea sweet, heat a 1:1 mix of water and sugar until the sugar is fully dissolved, creating a delightful simple syrup. You can also infuse your simple syrup with other flavors by adding herbs, fresh ginger or citrus peels to the pot when you cook it.
If you’d rather go the honey route—it is a natural tea companion, after all—you can dilute it with a few teaspoons of warm water or make a honey simple syrup to sweeten your iced tea.
Mix your tea with juice. Half cold brew tea/half lemonade (AKA the Arnold Palmer) is the gold standard, but no fruit juice is off limits here. Try fresh squeezed limeade, pineapple juice or tart cherry juice.
Try my favorite cold brew iced tea recipe. Mix 8 tablespoons of jasmine green tea with a cup of frozen peaches and strawberries, let it steep for seven hours, then drain it. For the perfect cup, I combine half tea, half water and a teaspoon of agave syrup. This refreshing blend is best enjoyed while relaxing in a hammock.
Remember to store your cold brew concentrate in the fridge—it will keep several days, though you’ll likely use it all long before then!
Still thirsty? Discover more clever cold brew ideas to enjoy this summer.