Nothing beats sipping on a refreshing and zesty iced tea to chill your hot summer afternoons. And while there are tons of store-bought options to choose from, there is something particularly tasty about making your homemade iced tea.
With subtle tea flavors, a powerful juicy kick, and sweet citrusy notes, this is our secret formula for making the ultimate lemon iced tea.
Making an authentic iced tea may seem like an overwhelming process, but the truth is, it couldn’t be easier. The only thing you need to make your own icy pitcher of lemony tea are five simple ingredients:
Black Tea – For the ultimate taste, choose good-quality black tea. Black tea has an earthy flavor that works well with any type of fruit. In fact, it is the go-to tea base for store-bought iced tea. And besides, it is known to have some health benefits such as supporting digestion and lowering cholesterol, so that’s a plus.
Lemons – Obviously, you need lemons for a lemon iced tea. It doesn’t matter which type of lemons you buy (yup, there is more than one!), just make sure they are juicy.
Sugar – You will need white, granulated sugar for this recipe. We will be making a syrup-like base, so this type of sugar works best.
Baking Soda – Although you can surely make iced tea without baking soda, trust me, this acidic powder will make all the difference. Black tea is known to have a robust and naturally bitter taste, so even a pinch of baking soda will neutralize the sharp taste and result in a much smoother flavor.
Water – This one goes without saying, really. We need water to brew tea.
This recipe takes a bit over an hour to make and can easily refresh eight people.
You will need:
And here is how you make it:
Step #1: Pour 4 cups of the water into a medium-sized saucepan and place over medium heat. Stir in the baking soda, and bring it to a boil.
Step #2: Once the water is bubbling, remove it from the heat, and place the tea bags inside. Cover the pan with a lid, and allow the tea to steep for about 5 minutes. Make sure to check with the manufacturer’s instructions for the correct amount of steeping time.
Step #3: Discard the tea bags, and add the sugar inside. Grab a long spoon and constantly stir until the sugar becomes completely dissolved.
Step #4: Add the juice of at least 4 lemons inside, and give it a gentle stir.
Step #5: Pour the remaining four cups of water (make sure it is cold) into the saucepan to dilute the syrup, and give it a gentle stir.
Step #6: Transfer the tea to a glass pitcher and place it in the fridge. Let it chill for about 45-60 minutes. Fill eight tall glasses with ice and lemon slices, and pour the cool tea over. Enjoy!
If there is leftover tea, you can cover the jug and store it in the fridge. Do not let it sit for more than 2-3 days as the flavors will not be as pure.
The Saucepan is Recommended. You may decide to boil the water in a kettle and then do the rest inside the pitcher, but that can be messy. And besides, the pitcher has to be heat-proof if you choose to do the steeping there. The saucepan method is much more forgiving and beginner-friendly.
Add the Lemon Slices When Serving. You may be tempted to add the slices inside the pitcher before refrigerating to boost the lemony flavor, but that might cause the fruit to break down. For a better-looking presentation, add the slices directly in the glass when serving.
Don’t Rush the Steeping. Steeping the tea for the recommended amount of time is crucial for the taste, as that is the only way to extract the full flavor from the bags.
Tea in a Snap. Allowing the tea to chill in the fridge gives you a fuller, rounded taste. However, if you are in a bit of a rush or have surprise guests to serve, there is a shortcut. Instead of diluting the tea with 4 cups of cold water, add 4 cups of ice. Wait for the ice to melt, and then serve the tea in ice-packed glasses, as usual.
If you have an experimental nature, feel free to mix and match with the flavor to get the desired result. Here are some tips:
With the secret recipe for the ultimate crowd-pleasing lemony iced-tea, you are now all set for your refreshing summer brunches. I encourage you to play around with the ingredients and adjust to your own taste. We’re also open to suggestions and would love to hear all about new flavor variations you come up with. Keep us posted!