How to Make Iced Tea with Zest
Learning how to make iced tea at home gives you the freedom to turn your favorite green or black tea into a delicious cold beverage. In this article, we're going to explain how to brew iced tea with Zest tea bags, to create a high-energy, naturally sweet and tasty drink to quench your thirst.
Don't forget that we also have a line of ready to drink sparkling iced teas, for when you don't have time to make your own iced tea but still want a zero-sugar drink with more caffeine than coffee!
Making Iced Tea with Zest
Iced tea is one of the most popular forms of brewed tea consumed in America - the ready to drink tea market reached almost $8 billion in 2019.1 Whether you slurp it down like cold water or sip sweetened tea with plenty of fruit and ice cubes, you're enjoying an American classic.
This thirst quenching drink doesn't need to be purchased bottled or canned, however. You can brew sun tea easily at home, or recreate your favorite iced tea purchased from the store. When made at home, you can ensure your tea tastes even better by adjusting the sweetness to taste.
If you have a favorite tea that you like to drink hot, it's very simple to make it iced instead. Read our recipe below, or learn more about ready to drink iced energy tea in our article What Sparkling Tea Is All About.
How Iced Tea Changes Flavor & Caffeine
Hot brewed tea has natural sweetness, tannin astringent compounds, and plenty of caffeine (in Zest Tea, at least) to create a rounded flavor. But when you take that hot cup of tea and make it into iced tea, this can change.
Flavors that are sweet when hot or room temperature can lose sweetness when they're colder - if you've ever eaten melted ice cream, you'll know this.2
So, when you make iced tea, the sweetness and flavor can be weaker. Furthermore, if you brew your tea to a normal strength and then add ice to cool it, you'll dilute the flavor further. As a result, some recipes for iced tea (and popular iced tea brands) add a lot of sugar to combat this. If you're purchasing iced tea instead of making it yourself, check the Nutrition Facts box!
When it comes to caffeine, you don't lose any by pouring the hot liquid over ice. For example, a cup of Zest Earl Grey contains approximately 150mg of caffeine when brewed hot. Whether you chill it in the fridge or pour it over ice, the resulting beverage still contains 150mg of caffeine - more than coffee.
Cold Brew is Not Iced Tea!
If you have a few hours to spare and don't mind a little extra prep time, you can try making a cold brew. Rather than starting with a hot brew that is then chilled, you can make cold brew by adding tea leaves to cold or room temperature water. You will need to leave it for at least a few hours to get a good strength, or pop it in the fridge overnight.
Learn more about how to brew our tea blends hot (using bagged or loose tea) and cold brew tea in our article How to Make Tea Like a Pro.
Zest's Best Iced Tea Recipe
Most refreshing iced tea recipes are surprisingly easy. Start by choosing which of your favorite black teas to use, and get some hot water ready.
IngredientsTo make a single serving of iced tea, you will need:
- 1x Zest black tea or green tea bags,
- 250ml boiling water,
- Cup of ice,
- Sugar, simple syrup, or your favorite sweetener to taste,
- Additional flavors, e.g., fresh mint, lemon slices or lemon juice, or fresh fruit such as fresh raspberries or strawberries.
Pour your 250ml of hot water, tap water is fine, into a mug or jug and add tea bags. We recommend one bag per 250ml - scale up if you're preparing multiple servings.
Remove the tea bags after five minutes and discard. If you're making sweet tea, stir in your sugar, honey or sweetener of choice.
Add ice to a glass or cup, then pour the hot tea over it to instantly chill. This will help the tea cool quickly to a drinkable temperature.
To create delicious summer drinks, you can add additional elements. For example, citrus fruit slices taste great in our Earl Grey blend, or try a handful of pomegranate seeds and mint leaves for our Pomegranate Mojito green tea.
To make refreshing iced tea, follow these tips:
- Use fresh cold water, don't reboil water more than once. Tap water is fine!3
- Brew your tea stronger than you'd usually drink. When cold, the flavor may be weaker and the melting ice will dilute the beverage too.
- Stirring the tea is good, as it helps the hot water filter through the bag. However, don't crush the bag with your spoon or against the side of the mug. This can release too many tannins and make your tea unnecessarily bitter.
- Always dissolve sugar into a hot cup of tea before it is chilled, as it takes a lot of stirring to dissolve into iced tea.
- If you don't have any ice, you can let the tea cool to room temperature in your kitchen, then place it in the refrigerator to cool it instead.
- If you decide to add fruits and other fresh ingredients to your tea recipe, store the drink in the refrigerator and drink it the day you make it.
Best Iced Tea Flavors
You can brew iced tea with any of our delicious high caffeine blends at Zest Tea. Instead of making your usual hot brewed tea, simply follow the recipe above to cool it down. Here are our three best iced tea blends that we recommend you try.
1. Blue Lady
Blue Lady makes the perfect sweet tea. With a black tea base, like English Breakfast tea, and orange, lemon, passion fruit, and hibiscus, it's deliciously sweet and refreshing even without sugar.
You can also cold brew these tea bags for a smoother, fruitier flavor. Blue Lady is our best-seller!
2. Superberry Samba
This green tea is ideal for a fruity iced tea recipe. It has a light, refreshing flavor that we love for summer gatherings. Açai and tropical super fruits give this tea an energetic vibe that works so well with iced tea recipes. Try adding orange slices, fresh strawberries and mint leaves.
3. Pomegranate Mojito
Minty iced tea is a classic... but we can put our own Zesty spin on it with Pomegranate Mojito. Refreshing, minty sweet tea made with a green tea base - just as delicious as mint herbal teas, but with a caffeine kick. If you have the time, try a cold brew recipe and let these delicious tea bags infuse with cold water overnight.
Using Loose Leaf Tea Instead of Tea Bags
Swapping out your tea bags for loose tea leaves isn't actually that daunting. In fact, you can replace them 1:1, an equal amount, for iced tea. If you have 2 grams of tea leaf in each tea bag, simply replace each tea bag with 2 grams of loose leaf instead.
No need to weigh - 2 grams is approximately 1 teaspoon!
However, while you can simply remove the tea bags, loose leaf is a bit different.
- The taste is exactly the same.
- It gives you more control over your iced tea, using very specific amounts of tea leaf to get the perfect flavor.
- There are plenty of recipes for brewing iced tea with loose leaf.
- You can find just as many tea types and flavors - if not more - in loose leaf format, from green to black tea.
- While you can simply remove the tea bags, handling loose leaf requires an infuser.
- There's less convenience - the tea isn't pre-packaged into the correct amount.
- Loose leaf can sometimes take longer to brew for a strong flavor.
- It can be hard to adapt a bagged tea recipe for loose leaf.
One of the easiest ways to negate these disadvantages is to use the Zest Infuser Mug - it makes brewing loose leaf easy and convenient.
How to make iced tea easily?
There are plenty of recipes to help you brew a cup of iced tea very easily. We recommend using tea bags, pouring the hot tea over ice, and adding sweetener to taste. Don't forget to stir it well!
What tea for iced tea?
Any tea flavor, from black tea to herbal infusions, can be made into iced tea. Use just one tea bag for a single cup, or scale up a recipe to make an entire pitcher.
Can you make iced tea with tea bags?
Absolutely. Any hot brew that's made with tea bags can be turned into iced tea or cold brew using the same tap water. It's often as simple as pouring your hot tea over ice.
How do you turn hot tea to iced sweet tea?
Take your hot brew, add some sugar or sweetener of your choice, then pour it over ice. You'll have instant ice cold tea. You can also find recipes for adding different flavors and elements.
Is unsweetened iced tea good for you?
A plain iced tea recipe is simply made with filtered water and tea - no added sugar. As a result, a cup has numerous benefits including increased energy levels, lower risk of heart disease, and boosted immune system.4 Read more about health benefits of tea in our article A Complete Guide to the Health Benefits of Drinking Tea.
Can you make iced tea with herbal tea?
Yes, you can make iced tea with any brew type. Most recipes can substitute black tea with any tea type you like, to create a drink that suits your tastes.
What is the best tea for making iced tea?
Black tea is popular for a traditional iced tea or cold sun tea recipe. You can add sugar or other ingredients, e.g. lemon or peach juice, to create delicious flavors - or pick a flavored tea like Zest Tea.
Is iced tea better than iced coffee?
Maybe we're a little biased, but we love our Zest iced tea recipes! Your cold coffee drink from Starbucks is usually full of sugar too, whereas a cup of iced tea naturally tastes sweet without the staggering number of calories.