Iced Tea Concentrate is hands down the easiest way to have a cold pitcher of tea ready at all times. Mix it up with different flavor combos, infuse with fresh fruit and herbs, or add in flavored syrups. Looking for a way to serve homemade iced tea at your next party, shower, rehearsal dinner, picnic, or BBQ? Look no further!
Growing up my parents had iced tea in the fridge at all times. Usually it was my sister's job to keep a pitcher filled. At that time we boiled water on the stove and steeped the tea. Then you had to pour the hot tea into a pitcher and wait for it to cool. Too bad she didn’t know about this make-ahead hack back in the day!
Making iced tea concentrate instead of just a gallon of tea is simple, yet TOTALLY life changing. We go through about a gallon of tea every day or two. With this little trick I am able to have 3 gallons worth of tea concentrate in the fridge ready and waiting.
🥇 Why it’s great!
- It's EASY... easier than you can even imagine. Just take a look at the instructions and you'll see what I mean.
- This is the best way to serve tea to a crowd. It's easy on the wallet, make-ahead friendly, and simple to store enough for large quantities.
- It's economical (much cheaper than buying juice, soda, or other drinks). Plus it's a much healthier alternative to most beverages at stores. I can feel good about having this tea in the fridge all week for the family.
You only need 2 ingredients to make this recipe. Water and tea bags - that's it! You can use black tea, fruit tea, or green tea.
🫖 How to make tea concentrate
There are a two ways to make tea concentrate successfully. My favorite method is using the sun to do the steeping. Just fill a glass of jar with water, add your tea bags, and screw on the lid. Then pop it in the sun for the next 4-6 hours. Once you bring in the jars, remove the lids and take out the tea bags. I give them a gentle squeeze to get the extra liquid out. Be careful though, if you squeeze too hard the tea bags will break.
Another option is to do this in the house. Heat the water on the stove or in the microwave until hot but not boiling. Then place the tea bags in the water for an hour or two. Once they've steeped for awhile, remove the bags and give them a gentle squeeze. Pour the concentrate into a glass jar, screw on the lid, and store in the fridge.
👨👩👧👦 For a crowd
Tea concentrate is great for serving iced tea to a crowd. It’s economical, easy, and can be dressed up or down depending on how you serve it. In the picture below you can see how we used the iced tea concentrate at my niece’s bridal shower. It is in the jar on the left. The idea was to do a tea party, but since summers here in the desert are 110º+, we opted to have iced tea as one of the options. To the left of the iced tea you can see bottles of flavored syrup that we dressed up for adding into the tea. It was a hit!
Several years ago I learned a secret for great tea at a delicious Mexican restaurant near our family's summer vacation spot. They put in one family sized black tea bag along with the green tea and fruit tea bags. Before this I was trying to make fruit flavored iced tea with only green tea and fruit tea. It just wasn't quite right. The black tea bag adds the perfect touch.
Moral of the story: This recipe is incredibly flexible. Definitely feel free to mix it up and find the flavor and combinations that you like best. Here are our general recommendations for flavor profiles:
- Black Tea: 4 family sized black tea bags or 12 single sized black tea bags
- Green Tea: 12 single sized green tea bags
- Fruit Flavored Tea: 2 family sized black tea bags (or 6 single sized black tea bags) + 4 individual sized green tea bags + 2 single sized fruit flavored tea bags
- Favorite fruit flavors: Cranberry pomegranate, Wild Berry Zinger, Citrus Sunrise
**Keep in mind that 1 family sized tea bag=3 single size tea bags**
🙋 Questions & Answers
My rule of thumb is for every 2 cups of water I use 12 tea bags, which will make enough concentrate for 1 gallon of tea. As a note: 1 family size tea bag = 3 regular size tea bags. Of course, this recipe is more of a method, so no need to be exact. If you like your tea stronger then add an extra tea bag or two. If you prefer your tea lighter in flavor add one or two tea bags less.
It depends. If you are making this on the stove or in the microwave you can stir the sweetener into the water right when it gets hot. If you are allowing the sun to warm the water, then I would suggest using a simple syrup to sweeten it (instructions for that are in the recipe card).
Yup! The concentrate stays fresh in the refrigerator for about a week. Perfect for BBQ’s, parties, bridal and baby showers, rehearsal dinner, etc.
First, figure out how many gallons you want to serve. This will vary depending on how many people are coming, how many varieties of drinks are being served, how long the event is, and how warm the weather is. So much for a definitive answer. 😉 Before throwing a party I always check out the beverages page on Ellen’s Kitchen site. It is a little old fashioned, but full of great information. Having said that I find her numbers to be a little on the high side.
Once you know how many gallons you need, make the corresponding amount of concentrate. This recipe makes 1 gallon of tea, but you can increase that easily.
Why, I am glad you asked. 😉 YES! It takes everyday iced tea up to a whole other level. Our favorites are mint, berries, and citrus. Sometimes I go wild and add in hibiscus flower, which also goes by Jamaica in the store. Delish!
Place the fruit or herbs in the serving container before adding the tea. Use a wooden spoon to smoosh around the fresh ingredients to release their flavor. Then add in your tea concentrate and water. Let it infuse for at least a couple hours before serving. If desired strain the tea before serving.
📖 More recipes for a crowd
- This Twice Baked Potato Bake goes perfectly at a BBQ or as a side to grilled chicken and steak. Plus it is freezer friendly which makes it perfect for making ahead.
- This Summer Fruit Salad is fresh fruit tossed in an irresistible 2 ingredient honey lime dressing. Super easy to serve to a crowd!
- Easy Asian Slaw Salad is ultra-simple and great for bbqs and grilling nights. Serve in a large bowl to feed a group.
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Make Ahead Iced Tea Concentrate
- 16 cups water divided (2 cups for concentrate, 14 cups for turning it into tea)
- 12 tea bags see notes for combination ideas
Sun Tea Concentrate
- Place 2 cups of water in a jar. Add the tea bags making sure to keep the paper tags out of the water. Screw on the lid tightly. Place in a bright sunny spot for 4-6 hours.
- Unscrew the lid and remove the tea bags, gently squeezing to remove excess liquid. Put the lid back on and store in the refrigerator for up to a week. When it is time to serve add the concentrate and 14 cups water to a gallon sized pitcher. Serve over ice.
Stove Top Tea Concentrate
- Place 2 cups of water in a pan. Heat water until it is almost boiling. Turn off heat and add the tea bags making sure to keep the paper tags out of the water. Allow to steep for 1-2 hours.
- Remove the tea bags, gently squeezing to remove excess liquid. Pour into a glass jar. Put the lid back on and store in the refrigerator for up to a week. When it is time to use add the concentrate and 14 cups water to a gallon sized pitcher. Serve over ice.
All nutrition information is provided by a third party and is an estimate only. Use your own nutritional calculator for more specific measurements.