How To Make Awesome Iced Teas

By Tammie Jo , last updated March 15, 2011

To make truly awesome iced tea drinks, you have to start with fresh, high-quality tea and steep it correctly. Most tea aficionados agree that the boiled-water method is superior to the sun-tea method. And ice tea made in the microwave? Definitely not awesome. Whether you like it sweet, tart or fortified, begin with a perfect brew and use the tea within around 24 hours for the best flavor. Chill it well before adding ice, and never use crushed ice in your tea; it will dilute it too quickly.

Basic Awesome Iced Tea

Place 4 standard-sized tea bags in a 2-cup glass or ceramic teapot. Orange pekoe is the traditional blend typically used for iced tea, but you can also use Earl Gray or blends like English Breakfast if you prefer a more robust tea. Tie the bag strings together to help prevent them from falling into the pot. Pour boiling water over the tea bags and steep for ten minutes. A long steeping time brings out the natural bitterness in the tea and should be avoided. Remove the bags without squeezing them. Pour the tea into a 2-quart pitcher and add 2 cups of cold water. Taste, and add more water until it reaches your preferred strength. Allow the tea to come to room temperature before putting it into the refrigerator.

Sweeteners

Have you ever had the last drinks of your ice tea ruined by the big glob of granulated sugar lurking in the bottom of the glass? Sugar is difficult to dissolve in cold drinks, but syrup made from sugar blends in easily and can be added to the pitcher or the individual glass. Simple syrups are also a great way to impart herbal or fruity flavors into your iced tea.

Basic Simple Syrup

  • 1 cup organic cane sugar
  • 1 cup water

Bring the sugar and water to boil in a heavy saucepan. Stir well until all the sugar is dissolved. Reduce the heat and simmer for 2 to 4 minutes, or until the syrup is slightly thickened. Remove the pan from the stove and allow the mixture to cool.

Add 1/8 cup of simple syrup to 1 qt. of tea and taste. Add more, a spoon at a time, until it reaches your preferred level of sweetness. Store the remainder in the refrigerator.

Mint Simple Syrup

Pour 1 and ¼ cups boiling water over a handful of fresh mint, crushed. Steep for approximately 20 minutes and strain. Use the mint decoction instead of plain water to make basic simple syrup.

Orange-Cinnamon Simple Syrup

Peel 1 orange and scrape away the white pith from the peel. Steep the peel and 1 cinnamon clove in 1 and ¼ cup boiling water for 20 minutes. Strain and use the liquid instead of water in the basic simple syrup recipe.

Juiced Tea Drinks

Arnold Palmer made his favorite drink of half-iced tea and half-lemonade popular, but lemonade isn’t the only juicy drink you can blend with tea. Try limeade, orange juice, berry juice, pineapple, pomegranate or even grapefruit juice. To make delicious fruit and tea drinks, use pure fruit juice, sweeten the tea with simple syrup, and don’t water down your perfectly blended tea with juice. Use the juice instead of water when you pour the freshly brewed tea into the pitcher.

Alcoholic Iced Tea Drinks

Sweetened iced tea is a perfect medium for mixing refreshing cocktails and it blends especially well with fruit-based drinks. Of course, the well-known “Long Island Iced Tea” only looks like tea, it doesn’t actually contain any, but there’s no reason why it can’t!

Spiked Island Tea

  • 1 oz. vodka
  • 1 oz. gin
  • 1 oz. white rum
  • ½ oz. Triple Sec
  • Juice of ½ a lemon
  • ½ cup sweetened iced tea

Pour all of the ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Cover and shake to mix. Pour the mixture into 2 cocktail glasses and garnish with a wedge of lemon.

MojiTea

  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 oz. white rum
  • ½ cup iced tea, sweetened with mint simple syrup
  • Splash of club soda

Mix all ingredients in a tall glass and fill with ice, leaving room for a splash of club soda. Garnish with a spring of mint and wedge of lime.

Southern Comfort Tea

  • 1 oz. Southern Comfort
  • 1 oz. spiced rum
  • 1 oz peach schnapps
  • 1 cup iced tea sweetened with orange-cinnamon simple syrup

Pour all ingredients in a cocktail shaker of ice. Shake vigorously. Divide the mixture, including ice, into two large glasses and garnish with an orange slice.

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