What Teas Make Great Iced Tea?

melba brewWe are halfway through National Iced Tea Month.

Did you notice? Do you care?

Between doing your job while maneuvering office politics, paying bills, making sure your family is fed, tracking social obligations, and repairing car and house, simply keeping up pretty much consumes June!

Yet, here we are in mid-June, with summer officially arriving this week, making this, actually, a very good time to consider iced tea.

And for that, you need both ice and tea. Easy today, but it wasn’t until 1933 that an ice cube tray for home use successfully hit the market. (Read my post H2O on the Rocks for a brief history on chilling those drinks.)

But now that ice is a given, what about the tea? What teas are best iced?all-3-with-berries-webTruly you can ice any tea that you like. However, you will find that some are better served hot. Very cold tea delivers different flavors and nuances than that same tea sipped hot. In fact, if you have a tea that you don’t like, try it iced before you toss it or give it away.

Black Teas

Again, you can try any black tea iced, like the China Yunnan Golden Downy Pekoe below. However, for the “classic black iced tea”—the one we think of when we visualize “iced tea”—reach for a Ceylon. This is like the workhorse of iced teas. Add sugar, a lemon slice, lemonade, a sprig of mint, whatever you like, and this black tea will gracefully accept.

yunnan-brew-webAnd when you plan on additives such as sweeteners and flavors, there’s no need to use a super expensive tea. After all, you aren’t slowly sipping to note complexity or subtleties. Rather, you are doctoring it up.

Also, you are going for something that’s refreshing, which often means something that you can drink quickly, and in volume. And something that’s readily drinkable, likable, something that you can serve to a number of guests. Again, that “classic” taste that many expect. For these purposes, a decent grade of loose leaf Ceylon makes the perfect base.

If you just want to brew and be done with it, you can’t go wrong with flavored black teas. Fruity blends will add that touch of sweetness along with the flavors of summer!

Green Teas

Green teas make a nice, light base, really allowing added flavors to come through. Fruity green tea blends make amazingly refreshing iced teas. Think coconut, grapefruit, strawberry!

iced matcha genm close, sm
Matcha Genmaicha

Mint is naturally icy due to the essential oil menthol. When menthol binds to receptors on our sensory neurons, calcium ions move into the cells, sending a “cool” message to our brain.* Serve Moroccan and Le Touareg green mint teas iced for a doubly cooling effect!

And don’t discount the classic green teas. The toastiness of Chinese teas (try Lung Ching) and the grassy, vegetal notes of Japanese green teas (try sencha) are wonderful iced.

For something less mainstream, try genmaicha or matcha genmaicha iced. The starchiness of the roasted rice gives this gorgeous green cup some satisfying heft, especially filling when you’re a tad peckish!

Another unique choice is Japan kukicha, a mild, nutty tea that is low in caffeine and makes a bright yellow-green cup.

White Teas

The delicate nature of white tea makes superb iced tea, particularly the fruit blends. The lightness of the tea itself allows the fruitiness to really shine. Think strawberry starfruit or pear mango or blueberry.

Just be sure that you don’t skimp on the tea leaves. Because white tea leaves are so light and fluffy, it may seem like you are adding a lot of leaves. However, follow the instructions given for your tea because you want the flavors to come through.

1637 brew, iced
Passionfruit fruit tea

Fruit Teas, Rooibos, Honeybush, and Herbals

Fruit “teas”—blends of dried fruit, herbs, and flowers—are quite literally summer-in-a-glass!

There are many terrific qualities to fruit teas:

  • they can’t be over-steeped
  • they brew up gorgeous colors
  • they are naturally sweet
  • they are naturally caffeine free
  • they burst with incredible flavor
  • they are great carbonated

Rooibos, honeybush, and herbal blends similarly are naturally caffeine free (with some exceptions, such as mate), and many are wonderful when iced.

Look for fruity blends, such as lemon rooibos or Smooth Strawberry Dream, a honeybush blend that is amazing when iced. If you love strawberry, this tisane doesn’t disappoint!

If mint is your preference but you don’t want caffeine, simply brew mint leaves by themselves or in an herbal blend such as Ayurvedic pitta.

pitta all forms copy
Pitta herbal blend

The Fastest Way to Make Iced Tea

lade_final-webFor iced tea right now, simply brew your tea at double strength and then pour the hot tea over ice. That’s it!

For example, if you want to end up with 16 ounces of tea:

  1. Measure out enough tea for 16 oz
  2. Brew it in only 8 oz of water, using recommended water temperature and brewing time
  3. Pour the hot tea through a filter and into a 16-oz glass filled with ice cubes
  4. Enjoy!

Alternately, you can add carbonated water to fill the glass (you can either make your own carbonated water with a carbonation machine or use bottled sparkling water) and top off with ice.

Note:  If you prefer, add agave or honey while the tea is brewing.

Happy National Iced Tea Month!

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*Cotton, S. “Menthol,” Uppingham School, Rutland, UK.

Shop at TeaHaus for all teas mentioned here plus many more!

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