Here’s how to make iced tea at home! This easy method takes only a few minutes of hands on time and makes the best flavor.

Ice Tea

Sure, you can buy iced tea at the store. But for the very best ice tea? Make it homemade! This easy method takes only a few minutes of hands on time. It results in a brew with the very best crisp, refreshing flavor! You can also stir in a little sugar to make homemade sweet tea. It’s the best way to make drinking water tasty, and a nice alternative to iced coffee. We’ve been making it on repeat over here! Here’s how to make the very best pitcher of cold iced tea you can imagine.

What you need for iced tea

You might be surprised at how easy it is to make iced tea at home! There are only two ingredients in the base recipe, and three if you make sweet tea. This makes a large pitcher of 8 servings. Unsweetened tea is a fantastic healthy drink that’s very low in calories. Here’s what you’ll need to make it:

  • Black tea bags: To make a full pitcher, you’ll need 6 bags. Black tea is the best type of tea to use. Remember that it does have caffeine, but only about half the caffeine level that’s in a cup of coffee.
  • Water: You’ll need 8 cups of water.
  • Sugar: Sugar is necessary only if you want to make sweet tea! In our opinion, we prefer unsweetened tea on the regular: but sweetened tea is nice for entertaining.

Want to make a single serving tea? Try Iced Green Tea.

How to make iced tea

How to make iced tea: basic steps

The hands-on time for making iced tea is quick: most of the time involved is waiting! Making the tea takes about 20 minutes total. Then you’ll need 2 hours for it to chill. Here are the basic steps of how to make iced tea at home:

  • Steep the tea: Bring 4 cups water to a simmer, add 6 tea bags and turn off the heat. Steep for 5 minutes.
  • Add cold water and cool: Remove the tea bags. Add 4 cups cool water and bring to room temperature (about 10 minutes).
  • Refrigerate 2 hours: Transfer to a pitcher and refrigerate 2 hours.

Variation: sweet tea!

Want to make sweet tea? Sweet tea is a popular style of iced tea with sweetener added. It’s very popular in the Southern US and other countries like Indonesia. The steps to make sweet are exactly the same as with iced tea. Here’s the only difference:

  • Stir in sugar: When you remove the tea bags, stir in ⅓ cup sugar until it dissolves. The amount of sugar makes for a sweet tea that’s just sweet enough, but not sickly sweet like some recipes. We think you’ll love it! Let us know what you think in the comments below.
Iced tea

How to serve iced tea

The best part about iced tea is hearing the music of ice cubes hitting against the glass, right? It feels as summery as blueberry cobbler and strawberry pie. We love serving iced tea for summer entertaining, like patio parties, cookouts, pitch-ins, and pool parties. To make it look its best, add the following to the pitcher or serving glass:

  • Lemon slices
  • Fresh mint

Another way to serve it: add lemonade to make an Arnold Palmer!

More variations

Want to mix it up? Here are a few more flavored tea recipes:

  • Cold brew: Want an easier method with an even smoother flavor? This variation requires literally 2 minutes of hands on time, then chills for 6 hours. Try Cold Brew Iced Tea.
  • Raspberry: Fresh raspberries add an irresistible berry flavor. Go to Raspberry Iced Tea.
  • Lemon: Add a zing with fresh citrus! Go to Lemon Iced Tea.
  • Green tea: Use green tea instead. Go to Iced Green Tea.

Related: It’s not tea: but this Long Island Iced Tea is a classy spin on the original. Find out how it got its name!

This iced tea recipe is…

Vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, dairy-free, sugar-free (base version), and gluten-free.

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Ice Tea

Easy Iced Tea Recipe

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 8 1x


Here’s how to make iced tea at home! This easy method takes only a few minutes of hands on time, and makes tea with the best flavor.


  • 8 cups water, divided
  • 6 black tea bags
  • Sweet tea variation: ⅓ cup sugar (optional)


  1. In a saucepan, heat 4 cups water to a simmer. Turn off the heat and add the tea bags. Allow to steep for 5 minutes.
  2. Remove the tea bags (and stir in the sugar until dissolved, if making sweet tea). Add the remaining 4 cups cold water to the pan. Cool until room temperature, about 10 minutes.
  3. Transfer to a pitcher. Refrigerate at least 2 hours before drinking. Store up to 4 days.
  • Category: Drink
  • Method: Tea
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegan

Keywords: Iced tea, how to make iced tea

More tea & summer drinks

Want more with tea? Or more summery drinks? We’ve got lots of tasty tea and infused water recipes:

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you'll want to make again and again.

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  1. This recipe is perfect. The amount of sugar was perfect. It didn’t get cloudy the next day in the fridge.