As the we move into spring and summer, and find our days persistently warm, we tend not to crave a piping hot cup of tea, but yearn for a refreshing cold beverage to quench our thirst and cool us down. Making iced tea is easy and fun, and I surely know there is permanently a jug of thirst-quenching iced tea, of some delicious variety, in my fridge all summer.
When using tea leaves or herbal infusions, iced tea becomes a much healthier option than soft drinks, and something a little more exciting than water. Using tea blends with naturally sweet ingredients or citrus flavours means there is no need to add extra sugar, and certain herbal blends, such as rooibos blends, actually have hydrating properties, so often a glass of healthy natural iced tea equates to a glass of water.
Choose blends of black, green, or oolong tea leaves with fruits or citrus, or herbal blends with fruits, hibiscus or lemon & ginger in them. These selections tend to make the best iced tea. Simply making iced tea out of straight English Breakfast doesn’t work so well, and turns out bland and not really refreshing.
My number one tip for making amazing iced tea is to use an overnight cold water infusion, rather than brewing hot tea, then cooling it. Tea or herbs which have been heated, then cooled can release bitter components, resulting in a bitter iced tea rather than a sweet, refreshing drink. Great if you want a bitter tonic to get your digestive juices stimulated, but not so great as an enjoyable summer beverage.
To make your iced tea, use about one tablespoon of tea or herbs per one litre of water. This is a loose measurement, as some, denser teas require a little less, and herbal blends which are lighter in weight require more. The amount you use will also vary depending on your personal taste preference, and how strong you want the resulting brew. If unsure, just experiment, and trust your iced tea will turn out great.
Place your tea or herbs into a small cooking jug, like a glass measuring jug, and fill it with cold water, either filtered or from the tap. Cover with some plastic wrap and place it in the fridge overnight. Your aim here is to make a strong infusion. The next day, prepare your iced tea jug. Most 1L-2L jugs are suitable. Adding some chopped fruit or fresh herbs like mint leaves adds some fun, but is not essential.
Use a fine mesh kitchen strainer to strain your overnight strong infusion of tea leaves or herbs from the small jug into your large iced tea jug. Now you should have a large jug, with a small amount of concentrated iced tea in it.
Simply top it up with water, add ice cubes if you like, and serve on your BBQ table, or place in the fridge to consume over the next few days.
There are some great iced tea jugs available these days with infusers inside them, in which case there is no need to use your small glass jug, simply place your tea leaves into the infuser, fill with water, and place in the fridge to infuse overnight.
In my household, once one jug of iced tea is getting low, I prepare a small jug with the next brew, so there is a continuous flow of iced tea available in the fridge. This is a fun activity for kids to help with as well, and with so many fruity sweet iced tea leaves available from specialty tea shops, your house will be a cordial-free zone!
See below for a video guide to making iced tea.
Cheers to refreshing, thirst-quenching good health!
Written by Hayley Hinton, Naturopath &
creator of Infuse Herbal Teas.