Monday, June 9, 2014

Eats: Ice Tea Concentrate

Hello! Although it's not been a hot summer thus far (at least not according to my standards), a nice tall glass of ice tea is still refreshing after a workout session or some yardwork. Or while lazing out on the back deck, for that matter. 

In years past, I'd made sun tea in a huge pitcher, then made a simple syrup to add some sweetening to the tea. This latter step prevents that pile of undissolved sugar that seems to collect in the bottom of the drinking glass no matter how well you think you'd stirred it in. 

This way of making ice tea was fine, but that huge pitcher took up a huge amount of room in our refrigerator. But the way my husband drank up the tea, it didn't make sense to prepare a smaller amount. 

Then somewhere I came across a recipe for ice tea concentrate. I don't recall the source, but as I'd written the recipe on a piece of paper, I probably got it off the Internet. It sounded like an easy way to have the makings for ice tea on hand while saving room in the refrigerator. So of course I had to try it.

First, the recipe, then my results.

Ice Tea Concentrate

10 cups water
20 tea bags
5 cups sugar

1. Bring water to boil. Remove from heat and add tea bags. Steep 10-15 minutes. 

2. Remove tea bags, add sugar and bring to boil again. Cool and refrigerate. 

3. To serve: 3-4 parts cold water to 1 part concentrate, depending on how sweet you like your ice tea.

Here's how it turned out:

Above, nearly three quarts of concentrate, and a glass of ice tea made with it. I used the 4:1 ratio for my glass. 

It's just as refreshing as it looks! Now, you may think I diluted my tea too much and that's why it looks rather pale. However, the 20 tea bags I used for the concentrate weren't all of the usual black tea variety, so that is why the tea looks weak. The flavor isn't though. It's just right, although I think even at a 4:1 dilution ratio, the tea is a bit sweet. I think I'll reduce the sugar a bit next time. 

Though who knows, maybe that 5 cups of sugar is appropriate for a concentrate using just black tea. But the way I make ice tea is more a mix-and-match version. I do use more black tea than anything else, but I sub in some herbal teas too.

I used to buy a rose hip/hibiscus herbal tea blend sold by Crabtree and Evelyn and began adding it in place of some of the black tea when I made sun tea. I forget now why I began doing this (this would have been back in the early 1990's), but it made for a very nice ice tea. It felt (at least to me) like something you'd get at a B&B or tea room, but was my own concoction. 

That particular tea blend is no longer made by Crabtree and Evelyn, but there are other companies that still do. Currently I'm using another brand, Macval. 

I'm sure that any herbal tea of your choice would work, though. And speaking of herbs, I also added some sprigs of lemon balm and mint from my herb garden along with the tea bags while making the concentrate.
Could you try this with green tea? Or with honey or another sweetener? I don't see why not, though you're on your own with the amount of sweetener to use.

I'm guessing this could be made ahead and frozen too, if one wants to serve ice tea at a large gathering but wants to do some prep in advance. And of course, the recipe can be reduced if you have a small group on your hands instead. 

As for my household - even with my ice tea-swilling husband around, I think a full batch of concentrate will last awhile. So bring the heat on! 



  1. Great post! Bob usually makes his with honey. I'm sure that would work with this idea too.

  2. I'm sure honey would be fine! And since the mixture is brought to a boil after the sweetener is added, the honey would dissolve nicely.