Bottled iced tea is in short supply at most grocery stores, and if you’re a regular tea drinker, you’re probably considering making your own at iced tea home until the shelves refill. While making a big pitcher of iced tea at home sounds downright simple, there are details you shouldn’t miss when trying to create that perfect glass of gold.
Everything starts with the proper ingredients. Without that, you may as well just go buy a bottle of already made iced tea and call it a day. For the right ingredients, we go to Jesse Jacobs, Founder of San Francisco’s Samovar Tea, to get his take on the two basic ingredients – tea and hot water.
“If you don’t start with high-quality tea and high-quality water like spring or filtered tap water, nothing else matters,” he says via Epicurious. High-quality tea. This means avoiding the supermarket or commercial brand tea bags alone. Jacobs says these teas have unreliable quality as they are mostly produced from low-grade and tiny broken leaves known in the business as “dust.” He says, “Tea that is massed produced like those tea bags is going to be flatter and less complex.” Duly noted.
Instead of “dust”, grab yourself a high-quality brand or better yet, find the pyramid-shaped or triangular bags. These contain much larger leaves. And if you’re making iced tea, you’ll want Black Tea leaves.
Another way to go when it comes to choosing tea is loose tea. Jesse feels that “its consistent size results in a balanced, even brew.” Ultimately, your choice all comes down to what type of flavor you want for your iced tea.
But once you’ve chosen your water (spring or filtered or maybe just plain tap) and your tea leaves, you’ll have to figure out the best way to combine those elements into a glass of iced tea. There are two easy ways to do it, choose from one of these…
HOW TO MAKE ICED TEA WITH AN ELECTRIC KETTLE
There are a few different types of “self-brew” when it comes to making that perfect glass or pitcher. There is the quick HOT BREW, and then there is the slower COLD BREW and then, even more, time-consuming SUN BREW.
We’re focus on HOT BREW here, and it’s as simple as it sounds and probably the quickest method. Step one is boiling water. There are a lot of ways to do that, but the fastest and easiest is using an electric kettle. We suggest one of these…
- The Cuisinart CPK-17 PerfecTemp Cordless kettle is one of the top quick boilers on the market today. It quickly brings water to the precise temperature and has six preset temperature choices as well as a “keep warm” function button that holds water at the set temperature for 30 minutes. This is great in allowing your tea to steep for that perfect flavor.
- OXO Brew Adjustable Temperature Pour-Over Kettle is another top quick boiler. The design allows for a perfect pour-over when making yourself a glass of iced tea. The kettle’s controls allow you to adjust the water’s temperature from 140 to 212 degrees in 1-degree increments. It will also hold your water at a set temperature for up to 30 minutes.
- iFedio, Mueller, and Hamilton also offer wonderful quick boilers that also fit in just about everyone’s price range, from $28.35 to $29.99. Like the other two top-rated boilers, these are cordless and offer a number of similar functions for holding set temperatures to controlling just how hot you want your water.
If cost is not a deciding factor, the Cuisinart may be your best choice. If price is a deciding factor, as it is with many, either one of the iFedio, Mueller, or Hamilton wouldn’t be a bad choice.
Once you’ve boiled your water, pour it in a pitcher. Add the right amount of tea bags for the amount of water you have (usually there are instructions on the box) and let the tea bags brew for a few minutes. After the allotted time has passed, fill the remaining space in the pitcher with ice and, one it’s cool, you have perfect iced tea.
MAKE ICED TEA WITH SELF-BREW MACHINES
Simply boiling water and dropping tea bags in it is the simplest way to make tea, but it’s not necessarily the fastest or the easiest. Some people prefer to go with an actual home brew machine which does all the above mentioned steps for them, all at once.
Many of these home brewers include tea steepers built right in, and that allows you to use loose tea leaves in a way you can’t easily if you’re simply boiling water and dumping it in a pitcher.
So if you want to go full home brewer, consider purchasing one of these…
- Grosche’s Perfect Tea Maker is undoubtedly one of the top-rated products on the home brewer market. It comes in a few different sizes and with that, a few different prices. Easy to use, easy to clean, iced tea drinkers who have purchased this unit have not been disappointed.
- Aserson is also another well-respected brand when it comes to tea brewing. Like Grosche, Aserson offers a number of different styles as well as sizes, all coming with an easy-to-use tea steeper.
- Willow & Everett also offer a solid option. Their see-through teapot also comes with an infuser and a very doable price tag.
- The Brentwood KT-2150BK Iced Tea Maker is a good way to do all the steps to make iced tea at once. There’s probably no easier way to make iced tea. You load in your tea bags, fill it with water, put ice in the pitcher, and walk away. In short order your tea is ready to drink. At only $41.00 it’s also incredibly cheap.
Most of these fine tea makers, even the highly touted Grosche, can be found for under $30.
MAKE ICED TEA WITH COLD-BREW DEVICES
When it comes to cold brewers, that may mean something different to the individual user. There are the cold brewers that take some time to get that perfect pitcher or there are those brewers that can get you that glass in no time at all.
The top-rated customer-reviewed cold brew iced tea brewer comes from Brew To A Tea Store. The beauty of this baby is that it is huge, with a capacity of 1 gallon, but that could also be a drawback if you have limited refrigerator space.
Their cold brewer looks like an overgrown mason jar and is equipped with a spigot for easy pours. The simple design allows you to add your loose-leaf tea into a removable stainless-steel container, pour in your cold water, and let the tea do its thing. It’s even priced affordably at $38.99.
The Mueller Ice Drip Cold Brew Tea Maker is another highly rated cold brewer. While the brewer itself may look a bit intimidating, it certainly is not a difficult setup.
Mueller’s carafe holds up to 6 cups of iced tea. You add your tea leaves (unless you prefer teabags) to a small container that sits above, but inside, the carafe. You then add ice/water or a combination to another container that attaches to the top of the carafe and the drip process begins.
The Mueller ice/water container allows for an adjustable drip rate so you can control the speed of your brew. This cold brewer is priced to sell at $19.97.
Finally, we have the Takeya Iced Tea Maker with Flash Chill Technology. This one is another easy setup that can produce a quick glass of wonderful, iced tea.
The Takeya is a 2-quart container that has an easily removable fine-mesh tea infuser. Simple to use, you add your favorite tea to the infuser. Then, add your desired water temperature to the container, filling it halfway.
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Once you have let your tea steep, remove the infuser. Then fill the rest of the container with ice, shaking it for 30-seconds, using the Flash Chill Technology. The results? A nice, cool glass of iced tea. The Takeya will run around $29.99.
As with the Quick Self-Brewers and the Slow Self-Brewers, there are numerous Cold Brewers on the market. We are recommending only a few but that doesn’t mean there aren’t others. With any product, we always recommend doing your due diligence as we know price always comes into play.
WHAT REALLY MATTERS
As a connoisseur of iced tea, it all comes down to taste and speed. You can go the easy route and toss a couple of grocery-store-bought brand-name teas into a pitcher of hot tap water and call it a day, or you can go the more refined route of using a home brewer. Neither will necessarily achieve better results, it’s all about how you want to do it.