Perfect Ice Tea

Homemade Iced Tea

  • 6 to 8 tea bags
  • 1 quart hot water (4 cups)
  • 1 quart cold water (4 cups)
  • 1/2 cup sugar or 1/4 cup honey, optional

Iced tea is one of those delicious flavors that just makes the summer time seem worth while. It has all of the caffeine of soda pop, but with none of the artificial bubbly junk that feeds nameless corporations and their ilk. Iced Tea is natural, honest, and infinitely cheap. If your tastes run towards the exotic, and away from caffeine, then try your favorite herbal tea on ice. Brisk and refreshing, it will open up new avenues of beverage exploration.

Pitcher of Ice TeaGet out a 2-quart size sauce pan. Put the hot water in it and bring it to a boil. Add the tea bags. Remove the pan from the heat, and allow it to steep for 10 minutes. No more, no less. Set the timer. If the tea sits for too long, it will extract bitter elements from the tea leaves, making the finished product taste horrible. If it doesn’t sit long enough, it won’t be strong enough to give you the caffeine jolt which iced tea was designed for. When the time is up, remove the tea bags and blithesomely toss them into the garbage, they have served their purpose. Put the cold water into a 2-quart size pitcher. Pour the hot tea into the pitcher, over top of the cold water. You put the cold water in first, because the hot tea could melt the pitcher, seeing as it is so hot. The cold water acts as a buffer, and cools the tea. Add the sugar or honey if you like, stirring to dissolve it completely. Put the pitcher into the fridge to cool. Or it can be poured directly into an ice filled cup.

I like iced tea strong, so I use 8 tea bags. I buy the boxes of 100 tagless tea bags, usually a store brand, for about $1 a box. This makes 2 quarts of tea at a cost of 8¢! I don’t add sugar to mine, preferring it unsweetened. But that is a personal choice, and lots of folks like it with added sugar. The nicest thing about this recipe is that it makes perfect iced tea every single time.

If you liked this recipe, take a look at my ginger tea mix. It’s another frugal drink recipe from my extensive collection.

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  1. I don’t wan tto rain on anyone’s parade , but if you do a web search there are a multitude of sites which warn against making sun tea as it grows bacteria. The tea is never boiled and the addition of sugar make sa perfect medium for growing bacteria. You may have been doing this for years without problem, but even one stomach upset would not be worth using this method.

    • Fortunately, this recipe isn’t for sun tea.

    • Which is probably why this recipe says to boil the water. I’m not sure who’s parade you wanted to rain on…

    • Great advice Nana about why i’ll never consider making sun tea again. I usually boil my tea and the results are always a hit or miss. Since trying the homemade ice tea recipe, it comes out perfect each time!

  2. William Sander says:

    Does the steeping time change if you mix a gallon at a time and also do you steep the tea covered or uncovered?

    sounds interesting….thanks

  3. Kath Balestrieri says:

    No wonder I’m amped all the time ~ my “sweet tea” recipe goes like this:

    I boil a quart of water in a RevereWare saucepan. When boiling, turn the heat off, drop in 5 Family sized Lipton tea bags and cover the saucepan. Let it sit 5-6 hours.

    Pour the concentrated tea into a gallon sized pitcher. Stir in 1 cup of sugar until dissolved. Add water to make one gallon; refrigerate.

    • FIVE family size bags???? Yep, that’s a lot of caffeine! I use 2 family size bags (decaf), and I put a pinch of baking soda in the hot tea to keep it form being bitter.

    • loving the life says:

      My mom taught to make ice tea in a Revere ware saucepan. She said that is the “only way” to get great tasting tea. thanks for a good memory!

  4. Dan Michau says:

    Tried this recipe today, as written, for an alternative to the dry mixes and bottled stuff (various brands) from the supermarket.

    EXCELLENT! Fast, simple, extremely low cost, and so superior to the pre-made commercial products!

    Many many thanks.

    • Steph T. says:

      Oh good! I’m making this now. I have been spending $2.71 on a large iced tea each morning from Dunkin Donuts and it seems such a waste! Glad to hear this is delish! It will save me $704 a year. Can you believe that??? CRAZY!!!

      • I’m an addict as well of the DD black tea blend and would love to make my own. I asked a few months ago at Dd if they sold their tea. I was told “no.” Then last week they displayed 4 boxes which I tried to buy, but there was no barcode. I just now went online to purchase it direct and only the green tea was available. Apparently the black tea regular and the black tea decaf are “out of stock.” Going to check the site everyday until it’s in stock again.

        Ah, so frustrating!!!

  5. I am using this recipe right now – making it with Earl Grey Cream Tea. We served it at one of our kids’ rehearsal dinners and it was a definite hit – many asking where I got the recipe! :)

  6. scarlet13 says:

    Many thanks for this recipe I’ve been looking on how to make iced tea without the bitterness that can upset anyone stomach! Its amazing and have saved this recipe! Mmm so good on hot days and great to bring to outdoor events!!

  7. Cynthia Waite says:

    Good and simple!

  8. Thank you for this quick, easy recipe! I use decaf green tea – my fave – since I can’t have caffeine while breastfeeding. There’s a big pitcher of yummy iced tea in my fridge now, waiting for my hubby, kids & I to enjoy whenever we want! Great recipe!

  9. Bitter tea is from brewing black tea too long or squeezing the teabags over the hot tea and/or pouring the hot tea over ice. Use a timer to steep black tea 6 minutes, toss the bags into the sink and pour the hot tea into a pitcher of refrigerated water. Mix and now you can pour over ice.

  10. You make a classic mistake. If you are making sweet tea, you must–absolutely must–dissolve the sugar in the hot tea before mixing it with the cool water.

  11. I make classic black iced tea by cold brew or hot brew method using iced tea pouches. Each pouch makes a half gallon. Yum!

  12. I made this but unfortunately it didn’t turn out too good, I’ve never made it before, let alone even drank iced tea! haha but I’m thinking I either didn’t make it strong enough to my likings of tea or I added too much sugar… hehe

  13. Maryellen says:

    I found tagless teabags only one time in my life and have been looking for them ever since. Anyone know the name of the brand or where to buy them?

  14. I made this yesterday. Instead of using sugar, I used Agave Nectar. Served each with a slice of lemon. Absolutely delicious!

  15. I made this today! I did everything it said exactly except I used 14 packets of Splenda instead of sugar (and my tea bags were decaf)…. EXCELLENT!!!!!! So happy I found this recipe!!!!!!! With 7 kids I will probably make a gallon of this per day all summer!!!!!

  16. I made this a few weeks ago, but for some reason it was just too weak :( . I used a brand name and used 8 bags. Today I bought a box of the tagless bags (National Cup is the brand name I bought at Walmart), and I used 10 bags. Also, the way I sweetened it is very easy – I made a simple syrup, which is just equal parts sugar to water, boiled and then simmered for one to two minutes (till all the sugar dissolves). That way you don’t ever have sugar crunching between your teeth, or have to keep stirring and stirring. They call it simple syrup for a reason, and I made it a wee bit more sugar to the ratio than half.

  17. This recipe is how I make tea now….
    someone asked about when to add the sugar.
    What I do, is I add the sugar before adding any water…
    What I mean is, I put the tea bags in the pitcher, followed by 1 cup of sugar, then I wait for the water to run through the coffee maker(no coffee, just water), then I pour the hot water in the pitcher, let it steep for 1 hour, lastly I remove the tea bags, & add cold water to fill the 1 gallon pitcher. The tea bags I use, are regular sized tea bags…8 of them.

    It must be good, because I have not had any complaints yet, 8 )

  18. I make lots of ice tea. I make one big container with sugar for my grandson and I and one big one for my husband with Stevia sweetener since he has to limit sugar. I love to make the old fashioned brewed tea that I grew up with in the South but I feel like I am spending all my time just keeping it going as we drink it so fast. So I began to use the Cold Brew tea bags that you find in most stores now. There are at least two different brands. I just fill my glass containers with cold water, stir in my sweetener or sugar and throw in a bag or two depending on how strong one likes it. These bags are family size. It is handy since there is no boiling. My husband doesn’t like to put ice cubes in lukewarm tea, preferring his to be completely chilled before he drinks it. Be careful that you don’t confuse Cold brew bags with another type called Iced Tea bags. I used to make Sun Tea years ago in florida. I had never considered the bacteria angle. I can see how that might happen.

  19. Regardless of any nuances around steeping time, covering while steeping etc., just follow Hillbilly Housewife’s recipe for this tea and you will indeed achieve amazing iced tea at incredibly minimal expense. I make it by the gallon following her recipe. Awesome, simple, effective formula – Thank you Hillbilly Housewife!

  20. I followed your recipe exactly and it turned out wonderfully! I had been considering buying an iced tea maker, but they are pricey and from previous experience, hard to clean. Was so glad I googled the recipe and found yours! And it is so much quicker than an iced tea maker too! Love it! Thanks!

  21. Kirk Buckner says:

    How many family tea bags do i use to make 3.68 quarts of tea. Oh and how many cups of water do i use.

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