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How to Make Proper Iced Tea (1 of 5) - Hot Brew Method

There are few things more hydrating and reviving than iced tea on a hot day and having served a range of iced teas at our Tea Bar for years, we now want to show you how easy it is to do the same at home. Over our 5 part series ‘How to Make Proper Iced Tea’, we’ll be sharing our tips and tricks for how to make delicious iced tea, from brewing the tea to the question of sugar, building a drink to what you’ll need to get started. We'll then be releasing a new recipe for you every week, all summer long.

Getting started

It goes without saying that you'll need good quality, whole leaf tea - after all your iced tea can only be as delicious as the tea you use as the base. However, how you choose to brew it - that is whether you use hot or cold water to infuse the tea - will also play an important role in the flavour of the final product. 

Hot brewing is a great option for your iced tea when you want to make something quickly, for immediate consumption. It also tends to create a stronger tea base for your iced tea so is best suited to recipes where other ingredients, such as sugar or citrus, are added to the drink or when you want a fuller, richer flavour in your iced tea. 

What is hot brewing?

Hot brewing is simply making the tea in the exact same way you normally do, following the brewing guidelines as you would for a hot cup of tea. For black teas that typically means using water just off the boil for around 3 minutes, while for oolong or green teas you might use water at a slightly lower temperature. The key to ensuring delicious iced tea made this way is not being tempted to brew it stronger to compensate for the ice or other ingredients you might be adding later. Just as it is important to pay attention to brewing time for your hot cup of tea, the same applies when it is destined for iced tea - you still want to draw out all that same delicious flavour, without over-extraction which can lead to bitterness.

What are the benefits of hot brewing for iced tea?

The biggest benefit of hot brewing is of course speed! You can have your iced tea ready in under 10 minutes, making it a great option for when you need your iced tea fast. Hot brewing your tea also creates a stronger cup, as the high temperature releases those flavour compounds (such as tannins) that play such a critical role in the flavour and aroma of our normal cup of tea. When subsequently cooled these tannins can become bitter, however, so this method is best suited to sweetened iced teas, where citrus and sugar balance out any astringency, while still benefiting from the stronger tea flavour. It also works well for some more delicate teas served straight up over ice, such as Silver Needle or herbal infusions like Lemongrass. These teas are less inclined to go bitter when chilled and benefit from a full body.

What if I haven’t got time to let it cool? 

If you can’t wait for your tea to cool (it’s hot outside, we understand!) you can also flash-chill your hot tea after brewing by filling a cocktail shaker with plenty of ice and shaking vigorously until the outside is cold to the touch. The idea here is not for the ice to melt, but instead to use the ice to chill the tea. The key to this is using lots of ice and shaking hard! If the rattling stops, the ice has melted and your tea will have been diluted, so shake like your life depends on it until the outside is cold. Then strain, holding back the ice, into a glass with fresh ice.

How to Hot Brew for Iced Tea

For this method, you simply brew your tea in the same way you would if you were planning to drink it hot, then chill it. Below is a step by step, but be sure to follow the specific brewing guidelines for your chosen tea:

1. Bring freshly drawn, filtered water to the boil (or to a lower temperature for oolong, green or white teas)

2. Measure your tea leaves or tea bag (s) into a pot, jug or cup as per brewing guidelines

3. Pour over the right amount of water and infuse for 3-5 minutes, as per brewing guidelines

4. Remove the tea leaves or tea bag (s) and discard

5. Set the tea aside to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate or add ice to drink immediately