Read on to learn more about iced tea and some delicious iced tea recipes to sip this summer.
The H-ice-tory of Iced Tea
The first time tea leaves were grown in the US was in the 18th century with recipes for ‘tea punch’ and ‘sweet tea’ appearing in the 19th Century. During the American Prohibition era, between 1920-1933, iced tea officially cemented itself in American culture as people were forced to find alternatives to alcoholic beer, wine and spirits.
Tea punches were made using strong tea, milk, and liquor and were served either cold or hot. Sweet tea is still drunk all across the southern states and is a beloved favorite at all times of the year.
Nowadays, the enjoyment of iced tea is split - northern states prefer it unsweetened or with only slight sweetness, whereas southern states drink it sweetened (aka: sweet tea). Here are some great recipes for iced tea to enjoy this summer.
How To Make Ice Tea
There are tons of different ways to make iced tea. From using cold brew tea bags, loose leaf tea, setting it out in the sun for sun tea, and pouring hot water over the tea bags, among others.
The hot water method is preferred by many because it’s quick and efficient but you can get different flavors and bitterness levels from different ways of steeping the tea. Iced Tea is usually made with black tea but some of our recipes use green tea instead for something a little bit different.
1. Southern Sweet Tea
Sweet tea is a staple to any southern household and, although it is enjoyed year-round, it’s particularly refreshing on a hot summer’s afternoon. Southern sweet tea is a strong infusion of black tea that is sweetened and served over ice and is as essential to southern cuisine as fried chicken and collard greens. Depending on personal preference, it may also include a squeeze of lemon juice or sprig of mint to elevate the flavor.
- 3 family-sized black tea bags (or 12 individual tea bags), such as Lipton or Luzianne
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- Fresh mint leaves or lemon slices (optional)
- Bring 4 cups of water to a boil on in a small saucepan on the stove. Once boiling, remove from the heat.
- Add in the tea bags and let them steep for around 5 minutes. If you prefer a stronger flavour let it go for a couple minutes longer before removing from the water.
- Add in the sugar while the tea is still hot and stir until completely dissolved.
- Pour your tea into a pitcher and top off with 3 quarts of cold water to make a gallon of sweet tea.
- Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or ideally over night until very cold. Pout into a glass filled with ice and top off with lemon or mint (or both) if desired and enjoy!
Top tip: this recipe is really easy to tweak to your personal tastes. The tea can be made stronger or weaker, and the amount of sugar can be adjusted to what you like - less sugar will obviously make it less sweet, while more will increase the sweetness. You could use a different sweetener if you are trying to cut down on refined sugar such as honey, agave syrup, or coconut sugar - just be aware than it might change the flavor of the tea itself.
2. Lemon Basil Iced Tea
The tartness of the lemon combined with the herbal sweetness of fresh basil in this iced tea recipe complement each other perfectly. Lemons are rich in Vitamin C and antioxidants and can help improve your mood with their bright citrus flavor while basil contains anti-inflammatory properties and can help improve digestion. This iced tea makes the perfect morning beverage to enjoy on hot summer days. Make the night before and enjoy as soon as you wake up to reap the benefits.
- 1/2 lemon, thinly sliced
- 6 fresh basil leaves
- 2 green tea bags
- 3 cups hot water
- raw honey, optional
- Add the lemon slices, fresh basil leaves, and green tea bags into a 1 quart mason jar or pitcher.
- Pour your 3 cups of hot water into the mason jar over the ingredients and allow it to steep for 15 minutes. Then, remove the tea bags. Taste it for sweetness and if you prefer it to be sweeter, add the honey in while the mixture is still warm - mix well to dissolve the honey.
- Place the jar or pitcher into the fridge and allow to completely chill for 3-4 hours and let the flavors release.
- Enjoy straight from the fridge or with a little ice for a refreshing morning iced tea.3. Cold Brew Green Tea
3. Cold Brew Green Tea
Cold-brewed drinks are teas and coffee that are brewed directly in cold water rather than using hot water to steep. It takes a bit longer to make cold brew tea but the flavors are smoother, lighter, and less bitter.
Green tea is thought to be really high in antioxidants and has a smoother, ‘greener’ flavor than black tea without the bitterness. Drinking it iced is a delicious way to enjoy green tea. You can use any kind of green tea for this recipe so if you feel like switching it up, give matcha, genmaicha, sencha, or pearl jasmine tea a try.
- 2 of your favorite green tea bags or loose leaf tea
- A pitcher
- 3 cups of cold water
Add your green tea and cold water into your pitcher and place it in the fridge for a few hours. That’s it. That’s the recipe.
Green tea is usually not sweetened however if you have a sweet tooth, mix a little honey with some hot water in a small bowl before adding it to your green tea - this ensures you don’t have big blobs of honey floating around.
4. Coconut Lime Iced Tea
Coconut water is full of amazing nutrients and vitamins and is already slightly sweet, so making iced tea with it is a great way to cut down on the amount of sugar you need - perfect if you’re trying to cut down on the amount of sugar you’re consuming. It’s also rich in electrolytes so is the perfect way to keep hydrated if you’re sweating a lot. Lime and coconut are a match made in heaven and are super refreshing on a hot day - sip this delicious iced tea this summer for a refreshing twist on the classic.
- 2 black tea bags
- 1/2 lime, thinly sliced
- 3 cups coconut water, heated
- raw honey, optional
- Add the tea bags and lime slices to a 1 quart mason jar or pitcher.
- Pour the heated coconut water into the mason jar, and allow to steep for 15 minutes before removing the tea bags.
- Taste it for sweetness and add some honey if you want to. Mix it well to let the honey dissolve.
- Place it into the fridge to completely chill for 3-4 hours and let the flavors release.
- Enjoy straight from the fridge or with ice.
5.Peach Sun Tea
As the name suggests, sun tea is a type of tea made by steeping the tea using the warmth of the sun rather than on hot water. This gentle method results in a delicate, smooth tea flavour that can be enjoyed in combination with many different flavours. This tea is perfect for places get stay warm and sunny for a long time - especially during the summer.
- 32 ounces water
- 1 family size iced tea bag (or 3 regular tea bags)
- 1 fresh peach – sliced
- 2 tablespoons honey
You will need a warm, sunny day for this method as well as a spot that gets continual light such as a garden wall or south-facing windowsill.
- Combine the water and honey together in a large glass container.
- Add peaches and tea bag(s) - if you want a stronger peach flavor, prick the peach with a fork to release more juice.
- Seal the container and place it in direct sunlight for 2-4 hours.
- Serve tea over ice.
Top tip: For a more intense flavor, place the tea into the fridge overnight and enjoy the next day.
We hope this blog post has helped you find your new favorite way to enjoy some iced tea. If you’re constantly on the move, make sure to pick up a Greens Steel Beast tumbler to take your iced tea on the go with you and enjoy anywhere. Check out the 5 Common Myths About Drinking Tea to bust some of the most well-known myths about the health benefits of tea.