- Better tasting tea: Loose leaf tea is higher in quality than most tea bags. Your typical tea bags are made with the leftover bits of tea, called dust and fannings. Think of it as the crumbs left over after all the good leaves are picked out. Loose leaf tea will produce a better flavor in both hot or cold teas.
- A larger selection of tea flavors and types: When you buy tea bags at the store, you are limited to a few flavors and they typically are very similar. However, when you use loose leaf tea, you are now able to try different tea types, flavors, and even mix your own to create new variations. This is where your creativity can shine and impress your guests. Most of our loose leaf teas can be made hot or cold, so don't limit yourself to the traditional iced tea flavors.
Quick Tip: You can even spruce up your iced teas by adding fruit slices, such as peach, apples, lemons, limes, mango, etc; or garnishes, like spearmint or basil. This will add appeal to any iced tea or refreshment.
3. Better on your wallet: Loose leaf tea is typically more affordable than bagged tea, as tea bags are discarded after one use and loose leaf teas can be steeped 3-4 times, and in some cases 10-11 times, a can be done with most Oolong teas. As one of our brewing methods explains below, loose leaf tea can be reused to make a larger batch of iced tea.
Our 1.5 oz bags can make 30-40 cups of tea, closer to 50 for lighter teas. You may get up to 90-120 cups of tea if you re-steep them multiple times. See our post on Mastering the Art of Loose-Leaf Tea: A Stress-Free Guide to Brewing the Perfect Cup for steeping tips, temperatures, and times for the different tea types.
Great, let's get into it.
How to make iced tea using loose leaf tea
There are a few ways to make iced tea with loose leaf teas and either works really well. I would say the difference is the time you have to prepare and if you want to steep your tea multiple times to get the most out of the tea leaves. Give both a try and let us know which you prefer.
Here are our two recommended ways for brewing loose leaf teas and making a delicious iced tea you, your family, and friends will enjoy. The first method is to cold brew your iced tea, meaning you leave it in the fridge overnight for approximately 8-12 hours.
The second method, which we tend to use when time is limited, is to make a concentrated batch by steeping it in hot water and either letting it cool off, mixing it with colder water, or just pouring it over ice. Seems simple enough right? It really is! Let's review the steps for each method.
What you will need
In the two recommended brewing methods we mention using an iced tea filter pitcher, french press, glass teapot with strainer, or tea bags. You can choose either one and the outcome will be pretty much the same, the most important things to keep in mind are the quantity of tea used and hot water temperature if using method 2. When making hot tea you typically use 1 tsp per 6-8 oz of water, here you will want to apply the same rule of 1 tsp per 6-8 oz of water. You can add more or less tea depending on your taste preference. Temperature is also important when hot brewing white or green teas. See temperature tips in method 2 below.
Method 1: Cold Brewing Your Iced Tea (Amount for a full pitcher)
This is probably the easiest method as you don't have to worry about water temperatures or going over in time resulting in bitter tea. You have a few options for cold brewing iced tea. You can use an iced tea pitcher that has a built-in filter, which allows you to brew then pour directly into your glass while keeping all the leaves from floating into your tea. You can also use a french press, which will help strain and separate the tea from the leaves. Another option is to use large tea bags that can be discarded. However, you can also use a regular pitcher and a hand-held strainer to remove the leaves once the tea is brewed. We recommend investing in a pitcher with a built-in filter or a large French Press as it really makes it easy to brew iced teas.
Step 1: Add 5-10 tsp of loose leaf tea (depending on taste preference) to a 44 oz iced tea filter pitcher or 34 oz french press.
Step 2: Fill the pitcher or French Press with water and cover it with the pitcher or French Press lid.
Step 3: Place in your refrigerator and leave for approximately 8-12 hours or overnight.
Step 4: Remove the tea leaves from the iced tea pitcher filter or pour from your French Press to a pitcher.
Step 5: Taste your brewed tea and add water if you would like a lighter flavor. Adding ice will also dilute the flavor as it melts, so adjust to your preference by adding either water or just serving with more ice.
Method 2: Hot brewing your tea (Amount for a full pitcher)
To achieve the best flavor when cold-brewing herbal tea or if you want to drink your tea right away, begin by steeping it in hot water for 2-3 min, for most teas, and 5 minutes for herbal teas. Then, add cold water to the remaining pitcher and refrigerate or pour over ice. This technique ensures that you extract the maximum flavor from your herbal teas.
Step 1: Add loose leaf tea (1 tsp per 6-8 oz of water) to a 34 oz French Press or glass teapot infuser
Step 2: Gently pour 3 cups hot water first, steep 2-5 minutes depending on the tea type. See a quick guide below.
White Teas – 2 minutes at 175°F-185°F.
Green Teas – 2 to 3 minutes at 175°F-185°F.
Black Teas – 2 to 3 minutes at 200°F-212°F.
Oolong Teas – 3 minutes at 195°F-200°F.
Step 3: Add 2-3 cups of ice-cold water with ice cubes.
Step 4: Taste your brewed tea and add water if you would like a lighter flavor. Adding ice will also dilute the flavor as it melts, so adjust to your preference by adding either water or just serving with more ice.
Check out our recommended loose leaf teas that make great iced teas.
You can also reference our quick how-to guide below for brewing loose-leaf tea with a French press, iced tea pitcher, or tea infuser basket.
Download our loose-leaf tea steeping guide (PDF).