The Best Iced Tea

by Joan on May 11, 2010

Tea and beautiful flowers from Mother's Day

I am an iced tea freak.  No, really.  I am.  Iced tea is not like Coke, where it all tastes the same everywhere (except Mexican coke in a bottle, of course.)  The quality of brewed iced tea varies WILDLY from food establishment to food establishment.  (We won’t talk about tea that comes out of a soda dispenser.  That swill is undrinkable, and should be illegal.) The tea brewing machine is one of the first things I look for when I enter a restaurant.  I ask questions about the tea being served like some people ask about where the fish came from.  I am more particular about the tea I drink than the water I drink. Some might call this an obsession.  I prefer to think of it as attention to detail.

My favorite tea is the daily pitcher I brew at home – almost every day of the year I brew a half-gallon.  In the summer, more than one.  (I will never, ever be dehydrated.) People tell me my tea tastes really good.  That makes me happy.  If you want to make good tea that people like, here’s how.


  • One family sized tea bag – I use Luzianne decaf
  • One two quart sauce pan – mine is only for tea
  • One half-gallon glass pitcher that is pleasing to the eye – don’t use plastic, I don’t know why, just don’t
  • Ice
  • One lemon, ends cut off, cut into sixths


  • Fill the sauce pan 2/3 full of water.
  • Put in tea bag.
  • Bring ALMOST to boil on medium-high heat.  When the bubbles around the edges of the pan are beginning to get white and frothy, turn off the flame.  (This usually takes about eight minutes on my cooktop.)
  • Set kitchen timer for three minutes.
  • When it beeps, take the tea bag out.
  • Let cool for five minutes.
  • Put ice in your pretty glass pitcher. Pour in cooled tea. Add water till the pitcher is full.
  • Fill your favorite glass with ice, squeeze a lemon wedge in, add tea.  I bite the lemon and then throw it away. Add sugar if you must.
  • Enjoy!

Additional info:

  • If you forget you put it on the stove (I do this at least once a week) and it actually comes to a boil, throw it out and start over.  (This IS rocket science.)
  • The instructions on the Luzianne box say one bag per quart – that’s way too strong.
  • If you’re lazy, and sometimes I am, stick the bag in the pitcher full of water and put it in the refrigerator when you go to bed.  Take the bag out when you wake up.  It’s not as good as the brewed version, but it’s still tasty.
  • Don’t use sugar substitutes in good iced tea.  That’s like adding water to wine, only worse.
  • I based this on a recipe I found long ago on Cooks Illustrated. I don’t even remember how close it is, but they did stress not to boil the water.
  • Since I have a a glass of tea within reach 24/7, the drinking vessel is also important.  My favorite glass is the reusable, insulated plastic “go-cup” made especially for iced drinks by Starbucks.  I have used the same one every day for over a year.  I hope they sell them again this summer, because mine is about to fall apart.  (This is the Starbucks link for the cup, but they haven’t been in stock since about two days after they debuted.)

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Lori May 13, 2010 at 10:21 pm

I love tea too but never brew my own. Thanks for the detailed instructions! I heard that sun tea could be dangerous, do you know if thats true?
.-= Lori´s last blog ..A Recipe And A Couple Winners =-.

admin May 13, 2010 at 10:27 pm


Yes, sun tea can be problematic. Check out the following info at Snopes (love that site!) Luckily, neither of my brewing options has that problem!

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