How to make iced tea with and without gadgets

Australians love their tea, almost as much as the English, but one thing we’ve never quite grasped is this whole iced tea thing.

With summer on the way, however, and a realisation that not everyone is into the whole coffee game, were giving it a try and showing you how to make it with and without gadgets.

The electric way

Iced tea isn’t exactly a new concept, and is consumed all over the world. In Australia, we’re beginning to adopt a taste for it, while it makes up well over half of all the tea Americans drink.

Most Aussies tend to drink hot tea, which, as most of us know, makes you sweat, and in hot weather, that makes you cool down as it evaporates off your body.

But if you don’t want to sweat, you can have tea on ice, it just has to be prepared a little differently, because natural tea steeping seems to be different in cold water than what it is in hot water.

Left to right: American iced tea makers from Hamilton Beach, Hammacher Schlemmer, and Mr. Coffee.

The bottles of cold sweetened iced tea have, in fairness, been out in Australia for years, but we’re not huge fans of paying three bucks per bottle, and they’re generally loaded with sugar, so the obvious option here is to make it yourself.

In America, a few manufacturers have made electric options for making iced tea easily, including Hamilton Beach, Hammacher Schlemmer, and Mr. Coffee, with these devices functioning similarly to a drip coffee machine.

Australians don’t have the pleasure of having these machines available, though we do have the $299 Breville Tea Maker, which lowers and raises the tea basket for you at precise times to make tea the way you want, so it’s not too bitter.

Breville’s option has been designed for hot tea and accommodates 1.2 litres, but you could easily brew a litre of tea in it – adding honey or sugar if you like – and then pour it into another jug or empty water bottle for the fridge.

The manual way

By far, the easiest and most affordable way for Australians to get in on the iced tea making action is to by a manual iced tea jug.

These aren’t complicated to use, and are little more than jugs with either a small tea basket that lowers in place from the top or a side section for the tea leaves.

Both types of the jug exist in Australia, with tea boutiques selling the jug with the first type of filter, while stores selling glassware tend to handle the latter version.

Jug based iced tea makers. On the left is the Takeya model, while the right is the Bodum one.

We grabbed one such jug this week from T2, which sells a repackaged Takeya 2 litre jug. To use it, you simply fill the basket up with the tea leaves you’re using, adding fruit or spices depending on what you’re creating, or just with tea bags if you prefer, and then filling it with hot water to let it steep for six to ten hours.

You can add sugar or honey during this time, although we find it works just as well to add honey to a small reusable water bottle and then pour the made tea in. Close it up, shake it all around to combine the sweet honey with the tea, and throw it in the fridge to cool. Come back later and you’ll have cold tea in a bottle waiting for you, as well as a jug ready to use to make more.

These manual jugs are relatively inexpensive, ranging from between $15 and $40 depending on the size and who makes it, but they all work in pretty much the same way.

Don't need to make much tea? Infuse a small cup then throw it in the fridge.

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  1. Old post, but if anyone’s still reading the easiest way is to bring a small pan of water to a boil, remove from heat add Lipton’s tea bags to it for about ten minutes (I use about six for a pitcher). Have the pitcher about half full of cold water and add the steeped tea from the pan into it. Fill with more cold water until you get the strength you like. Before adding to the cold water you can put sugar in the pan to dissolve (I usually take it unsweetened). My parents are from the American South (where Iced Tea originated) and this is how mom always made it.

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