While some of us enjoy iced tea year round, it is especially refreshing in the spring and summer. In the South, sweet tea is the norm, and up North, they like to add a slice of lemon. However you like your iced tea, it’s high time to explore all the possibilities beyond the standard black tea bags you favor from the local grocery store. Times have changed since our parents’ and grandparents’ day, and so should the tea in your cup. Explore the unknown; you might be surprised at what you find.
We challenge you to explore tasty new concoctions! You might just end up with new favorites to brew all summer. Check out these iced tea options that are strikingly different from the norm (and provide tips and tricks for brewing like a pro).
True tea comes from the Camellia sinensis plant. This evergreen shrub is cultivated for its leaves, which are plucked and then processed in a variety of ways to make different types of tea. Around the world, different techniques and plants have evolved with local climates to create unique and outstanding flavors—all from the same plant.
Choose Your Tea
- Black tea is fermented before being dried, which gives it a darker appearance. The leaves are bruised and allowed to oxidize, which creates enzymatic reactions and new flavors along with a change in color. Black teas are fuller-bodied and form the basis for traditional ice tea in the States.
- Green tea is dried after picking. Often times, green tea comes from younger leaves with more delicate flavors (whereas many black teas feature more mature leaves). The processing of green tea can vary greatly, with steaming, fluffing and shade-drying all being possible steps. Leaves are left unbruised, though, which permits green tea to keep its vibrant emerald color and unique vegetal flavors.
- Oolong is a traditional Chinese processing method that sits somewhere between black and green teas. Leaves are bruised and oxidized slightly, then dried before they become black tea. These teas have especially different flavors, and a smooth character with a body in between green and black teas. Some of them are almost creamy in mouthfeel.
- White tea is a specialty that can only be produced once a year. Young spring buds are picked when they are still tender and fuzzy. The white appearance of these teas comes from the lack of chlorophyll in the leaves. While these teas are the most delicately flavored of the bunch, they can also have the most exotic flavor characteristics. If you love the nuances and complexity of white truffles from Alba, seek out fine white teas like Baihao Yinzhen—you will not be disappointed.
- Scented teas have added flavors like spices, fruit pieces or herbs. They can be made with any type or blend of tea as the base. These can be a great way to add some variety and flavor to your iced tea creations. The most well-known scented teas are chai and Earl Grey.
Try Our Favorites for Iced Tea
- Ceylon black tea from Sri Lanka can have surprisingly fruity flavors and subtle sweetness.
- Yunnan black tea from China is almost smoky, with hints of nutmeg and a unique honeyed flavor.
- Jasmine pearl green tea from China is one of the finest jasmine-scented teas. The balled-up leaves unfurl when brewed, revealing a superior floral fragrance and flavor that’s unmatched by standard offerings.
- Autumnal flush Darjeeling from India carries the typical notes of muscat along with stone-fruit nuances, and a satisfyingly fuller body than earlier flush Darjeelings.
How You Brew Is Up to You
- Sun tea is one of the most fun. Place tea in a clean glass pitcher and add the desired amount of water. Cover with a plate or plastic wrap and place in a sunny spot for four to six hours. Strain and return the tea to the pitcher. Serve over ice and enjoy! This is the perfect morning ritual for afternoon refreshment.
- Brew a concentrate. Creating double-strength hot tea before pouring over a compensatory amount of ice creates a wonderful brew. Think ahead and chill the results in the fridge for refreshment on demand for days. Simply double the amount of tea you would normally brew in a given amount of water. However much water you used—add in that much ice and voila! Lighter-bodied teas may need less ice and more time in the fridge.
- Cold brew. This method can be tricky because tea can become too astringent when over-brewed. It’s worth experimenting with, though, because the flavors can be incredibly smooth and clean. Fans of cold-brew coffee will attest to how much brewing temperature matters. Start small by brewing 16 ounces before you double or triple the batch reliably. The secret is in timing the infusion. Green teas might take six hours, whereas black teas might take eight. White teas might taste best after 12 hours in the refrigerator. Try tasting a test batch in two-hour intervals until you know how your tea brews at cold temperatures. For cold brewing, use the normal amount of water and tea recommended by the producer, and don’t add too much ice when serving (it’s already cold!).
Master These Simple Brewing Tips
- Adapt the recommended brewing instructions of the producer for your iced tea. For example: green teas are usually brewed with slightly cooler water (not quite boiling) and for shorter time periods. Adjust the water-to-tea ratio to brew double-strength for iced tea (while keeping the water temperature the same). Brewing with recommended guidelines helps avoid bitter and astringent flavors, and creates a balanced brew.
- Don’t let delicate teas be overwhelmed. If you want to try icing green or white tea, you’ll get the best results if you err on keeping the flavor concentrated and unfettered with additions. You can always add more cold water or ice if the flavor is strong.
- Use filtered water or spring water for the best-tasting iced tea.
- If you’re using a tea basket or paper filter to brew with and make straining easier, ensure that it’s large enough for the leaves to completely unfurl when wet. If they can’t, the tea will not brew correctly and can create a lack of flavor along with increased bitterness.
Try These Tasty Blends
- Half Earl Grey and half Ceylon black tea
- Half jasmine pearl green tea and half Yunnan black tea
- Half chai and half pu-erh tuo cha (this one is great with a little half-and-half or sweetened condensed milk in the fashion of Thai tea)
Serve It in Style
The Thermic Collection features handmade borosilicate glass with double-walled construction that’s perfect for warm or cold drinks. The modern design is a statement unto itself, and their durability lends them to everyday use. Thermic is ultra lightweight, dishwasher- and microwave-safe and resistant to cracking from thermal shock.
- Thermic Beverage is tall and elegant. Its 16-ounce capacity is just right for an afternoon iced tea.
- Thermic DOF is curvy with a lower profile. Its 12-ounce capacity makes it perfect for Arnold Palmers and clever tea-based cocktails (like iced green tea mojitos). Who said iced tea can’t make its way to happy hour?
At Luigi Bormioli, we take pride in our Italian-crafted, superior quality glassware that’s dishwasher safe, lead-free and eco-friendly. You will enjoy their beauty, durability and strength for many years to come. We aim to enhance your tabletop lifestyle and entertaining experience with a glass for every occasion. When the moment matters, the glass matters.