How to make homemade iced tea (sun-brewed or boiled!)

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Leggi questo post in: Italiano

This ice tea recipe is so good! I love sun brewing it! Learn how to make homemade iced tea, the best drink on a hot summer day! A recipe for all natural sun brewed or boiled tea.

Today, for the first post in the Beating the Summer Heat series, I want to share one of my absolute favorite things to drink when it’s hot out: iced tea!

Have you ever had real iced tea? I mean the real stuff that’s actually brewed from tea leaves, not that glucose-y industrial stuff with fake lemon flavor and god knows what weird synthetic  ingredients. I am a tea drinker, so I find that fake tea absolutely horrifying, not to mention that I don’t like very sweet things. Homemade iced tea tastes like real tea because it IS real tea, and you can sweeten it how much you want and with your preferred sweetener, and add real lemon juice if you so desire. It’s so ridiculously easy to make, there’s really no excuse not to!

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And, if you’re hesitant to turn on your stove on hot days, there’s still no problem; all you need is a nice sunny corner to steep your tea leaves! Are you trying to limit your caffeine intake? Again, no prob! You can make iced decaf tea, green tea, herbal infusions, or whatever other tea variant you can dream of!

So now that you have no excuses left, let me show you how to make homemade iced tea!

Classic boiled iced tea recipe:

This ice tea recipe is so good! I love sun brewing it! Learn how to make homemade iced tea, the best drink on a hot summer day! A recipe for all natural sun brewed or boiled tea.

  • 1 liter of water
  • 2 tea bags (or enough loose tea leaves for two cups of tea)
  • 3 Tablespoons of raw cane sugar -or- 2.5 Tablespoons of honey
  • one heat-resistant glass container (at least 1-liter capacity)
  • one 1-liter bottle

These are the proportions that I use, but they depend on the type of tea used (some are stronger than others) and how sweet you like your tea. You can use any old sugar, but I feel slightly better using raw cane sugar. In any case, I almost always use the honey that a local friend makes. I’ve always been curious to try agave syrup, too, but haven’t gotten around to it. You could also add some lemon juice, but I’m kind of a tea purist and prefer it without, so I quite honestly can’t tell you how much to add. I’d say to start with a few squeezes and take it from there.

For the classic boiled version, first add the liter of boiling water to the tea inside a heat-proof jug, mason jar, bottle or whatever other container that can handle the heat. (One time I used an apparently non-heat-resistant glass bottle, and it cracked, flooding my kitchen counter, drawers and floor in boiling water, tea leaves and broken glass. Trust me, you DON’T want that to happen! If you’re not sure if it’s heat-resistant, put the container in the sink, just in case!)

Cover the container (I use glass saucers), put it on a trivet, and let it sit for about 20 minutes or so until it’s nice and dark.

This ice tea recipe is so good! I love sun brewing it! Learn how to make homemade iced tea, the best drink on a hot summer day! A recipe for all natural sun brewed or boiled tea.

Remove the tea bags, if you used them. You can add the sweetener either in the brewing container or in the final bottle. I prefer doing it in the final container to make sure that none of the sweetener gets left behind in the brewing container or tea strainer, if using loose tea leaves.

This ice tea recipe is so good! I love sun brewing it! Learn how to make homemade iced tea, the best drink on a hot summer day! A recipe for all natural sun brewed or boiled tea.

Use a funnel if your final container has a small mouth. Honey can get clogged up in the funnel, but don’t worry about it because the hot tea will melt it and get it through.

This ice tea recipe is so good! I love sun brewing it! Learn how to make homemade iced tea, the best drink on a hot summer day! A recipe for all natural sun brewed or boiled tea.

Pour the hot tea in, using a funnel and/or tea strainer if necessary.

This ice tea recipe is so good! I love sun brewing it! Learn how to make homemade iced tea, the best drink on a hot summer day! A recipe for all natural sun brewed or boiled tea.

Let the bottle sit uncovered on a trivet until it cools down enough to put in the fridge.

I use one-liter olive oil or beer bottles with spring tops. I give them a good wash and remove the labels, and they are just perfect for cold drinks. The locking tops are fantastic because they let me store the bottles on their sides inside the fridge!

(These pictures are from two years ago. You can barely see those drawings on the walls anymore because they’ve gotten covered up by other ones!)

Sun-brewed iced tea recipe:

This ice tea recipe is so good! I love sun brewing it! Learn how to make homemade iced tea, the best drink on a hot summer day! A recipe for all natural sun brewed or boiled tea.

Now let’s say that it’s ridiculously hot and just the idea of turning on your stove makes you sweat. Consider making sun-brewed iced tea! Since figuring out how to do this, I’ve totally converted to this method because it saves energy, heat and time. (Brewing time is longer, but cooling time is shorter, so I find that it’s faster this way.) And I love being able to use the super hot Neapolitan summer sun, as you can see here and here.

*Disclaimer* I’ve heard some claims that “sun tea” can breed bacteria that would normally have been killed off by boiling water, and therefore needs to be consumed relatively soon after brewing. I haven’t had any problems, myself, with this, but maybe that’s because I drink so much iced tea, it’s never in my refrigerator for more than two days. So make your own informed choice!

In order to sun-brew iced tea, you need a container that seals (I make a double recipe inside the same two-liter jar with a hermetically sealing spring top that I use to make limoncello, orange liquor and wild fennel liquor) and a very hot and sunny place (my balcony is perfect).

This ice tea recipe is so good! I love sun brewing it! Learn how to make homemade iced tea, the best drink on a hot summer day! A recipe for all natural sun brewed or boiled tea.

Put the tea and water in the jar, close it and put it in the sunny spot.

This ice tea recipe is so good! I love sun brewing it! Learn how to make homemade iced tea, the best drink on a hot summer day! A recipe for all natural sun brewed or boiled tea.

Let it sit until the tea is fully steeped. This will depend on how hot the sun is, but I generally find that 2 1/2 to 3 hours is plenty. You’ll want the water to be pretty dark, like you can see at the right here.

This ice tea recipe is so good! I love sun brewing it! Learn how to make homemade iced tea, the best drink on a hot summer day! A recipe for all natural sun brewed or boiled tea.

The jar will be warm to the touch, but not scorchingly hot, which makes it much easier to handle and pour, and also makes for a MUCH shorter cooling time. And you also get cool shadows as the sun shines through the brewed tea!

This ice tea recipe is so good! I love sun brewing it! Learn how to make homemade iced tea, the best drink on a hot summer day! A recipe for all natural sun brewed or boiled tea.

Remove the bottle from the sun and sweeten it, pour it into the final bottle, let it cool and put it in the refrigerator as with the boiled version. And then cool down with an ice-cold glass of tea! My absolute favorite summer breakfast is iced tea and a fresella with Vesuvius-grown cherry tomatoes, garlic salt, basil or oregano and olive oil. Such a yummy and refreshing start to a day!

The one problem with making your own iced tea is that the bottles take up a lot of fridge space, or at least if you make multiple bottles at once, like I do (because I drink so much of it). I’ve attempted making a very concentrated version of iced tea to freeze in ice cube trays and then dissolve in cold water when you’re ready to drink it, but I never managed to get it strong enough that way, so I eventually gave up. But if anyone has a tip for me on how to do that, I’d love to hear it!

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This recipe and instructions for making your own healthy iced tea is part of the Beating the Summer Heat series! Stay tuned for more ideas on how to stay cool at home on hot summer days! And don’t forget to Pin this idea so that you can try it out!

Beating the summer heat 1

21 COMMENTS

  1. Sun-brewed tea? First time hearing about it, but I bet it would work great over here. It’s sweltering hot. This reminds me of my friend saying how cold it was in the UK that they would leave their bottles of milk outside in the snow instead of the fridge!

    • Agy, it’s been absolutely sweltering where I live, too, so this is a great way to make use of the heat in a good way! Try it! But I also know about using the outside for a fridge! Hurrah for using natural temperatures for your own uses! 🙂

  2. Ottima idea quella del the freddo fatto in casa! Io lo adoro, ma ho sempre preso quello pronto perchè non volevo sprecare tempo e ingredienti a tentare e ritentare ricette, che puntualmente sarebbero venute sbagliate, troppo saporite o troppo poco. Ma questa la faccio! Secondo te (posso darti del tu) per fare il the alla pesca è meglio mettere direttamente bustine di the alla pesca o fare un the normale e aggiungerci pezzi di frutta ?
    Grazie

    • Ciao, Claudia
      Ma certo che mi puoi dare del tu! Allora ora sì che devi provare il tè freddo casalingo! Io direi di evitare le bustine con il gusto pesca se non sono proprio pezzi di pesca essiccata. A dire il vero, non ci ho mai provato a fare il gusto perché preferisco senza, ma mi sa che basterebbe tagliare una pesca e metterla nell’infusione, poi toglierla prima di mettere il tè in bottiglia. Secondo me funzionerebbe meglio con l’infusione al sole perché non si cuocerebbe la frutta. Fammi sapere se ci provi! 🙂

    • Ciao Laura, direi che, se piaccia come lo fai, va bene così! È decisamente una questione di gusto. Non mi piace il sapore amaro del tè molto forte, ma ci sarà a chi piace. E poi dipende dal tipo di tè usato. Alcuni sono molto più forti degli altri. Quindi se usi un Lipton o un Star Tea, ci vorranno più bustine perché creano un’infusione meno saporita. Un abbraccione!

  3. I now make my iced tea in the microwave. My mother always made iced tea on the stove top. She put 2 T. loose tea leaves in 2 cups of water in a saucepan, brought it just to a rolling boil, took it off the heat to let it steep 10 minutes or so, then poured through a strainer into a pitcher into which she had already put the sweetener.
    After boiling away the water once or twice (I left the kitchen because I wasn’t “cooking”), I modified my method. Now I put one of the large family sized tea bags into a 4 cup heat-proof glass measuring cup with 2 cups of water and heat it in the microwave for 3 or 4 minutes, let it steep and then pour into the pitcher with the sweetener. It is safer and cooler than the stovetop method and tastes the same.

  4. Fatta l’altro giorno la limonata.. buonissima 🙂
    Oggi volevo replicare con questa ricetta ma.. posso chiederti perché deve stare così tanto in infusione e non posso lasciarlo i 5 minuti indicati sulla bustina? Lo chiedo perché non vorrei si “caricasse” troppo anche per i bambini..
    Grazie di tutti i tuoi consigli a 360 gradi.. ti seguo sempre con affetto!

    • Sono contenta che ti sia piaciuta la limonata! Hai usato la quantità di miele indicata? Perché ora ho cominciato ad usare solo 6 cucchiaini e mi piace di più. Volevo aggiungere questa nota nel post.
      Comunque, di solito si fa un’infusione piuttosto carica con il te freddo, altrimenti sembra un po’ sciacquetto. Certo, se si preferisce il te freddo meno carico, o tipo quelli industriali, stile Estatè, in cui si sente soprattutto lo zucchero e l’aroma di frutta, si può anche fare un’infusione più breve, ma per chi ama il sapore del tè, come me, è meglio farlo di sapore forte! 🙂
      Mi fa piacere sentire che ti piacciono i miei post anche non della manualità. A volte penso che dovrei smettere di pubblicare post di cibo ed altro che non c’entrano con il cucito o il fatto a mano! 🙂

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