Iced Tea Concentrate is hands down the easiest way to have a cold pitcher of iced tea ready at all times. Mix it up with different flavor combos, infuse with fresh fruit and herbs, or add in flavored syrups to make it your own. Whether you're serving tea at your next party, picnic, BBQ, or pool party, 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 in the summer. With this little trick I am able to have 3 gallons worth of tea concentrate in the fridge ready and waiting.
If you're more of a lemonade person (or an Arnold Palmer person), try this homemade lemonade concentrate recipe!
☕️ What is a tea concentrate?
Iced tea concentrate is simply an extra strong brew of your favorite iced tea. You make a small amount of this concentrated tea, then just add water to dilute it when you're ready to serve.
🥇 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 the best way to prepare iced tea several days ahead of time without taking up all your fridge space.
- 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 any type of tea, including black, fruit, or green. You can also use loose leaf tea leaves.
🫖 How to make iced tea concentrate
There are a few ways to make tea concentrate successfully. My favorite method is using the sun to do the steeping - easy!
Fill a glass jar with 2 cups of water, then add 12 tea bags and screw on the lid. Pop it in the sun for the next 4-6 hours. Once you bring in the jars, take out the tea bags and give them a gentle squeeze to get the extra liquid out. Store the sealed jar of concentrate in the fridge.
Heat 2 cups of water in a medium saucepan on the stove (or use the microwave) until hot but not boiling. Then place 12 tea bags in the hot 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.
Fill a glass jar with 2 cups water, then add 12 tea bags and screw on the lid. Refrigerate for 8-12 hours (longer is better in this case). Then take out the tea bags and give them a gentle squeeze to get the extra liquid out. Store the sealed jar of concentrate in the fridge.
🥤 How to turn concentrate into iced tea
When you're ready to turn your concentrate into iced tea, simply pour the concentrate into a gallon pitcher and add 14 cups of cold water. You should have a 1 part concentrate to 7 parts water ratio. Enjoy!
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 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:
- For black tea: 12 single sized black tea bags (or 4 family sized*)
- For green tea: 12 single sized green tea bags
- For fruit flavored tea: 6 single sized black tea bags (or 2 family sized*) + 4 single sized green tea bags + 2 single sized fruit flavored tea bags. Our favorite fruit flavors are cranberry pomegranate, wild berry zinger, and citrus sunrise.
- Fruit: Try adding fresh fruit to your pitcher and smoosh it around to release the flavor. Then pour in your prepared tea concentrate and water. Let it infuse for a couple hours before serving (you can strain tea if desired). Our favorites are fresh berries, stone fruits, and thin lemon or orange peel or slices.
- Herbs: Try adding mint, hibiscus flower/jamaica, or rose hips to your pitcher of finished tea.
- Flavored syrups: Add a drizzle of a flavored syrup to your finished tea to make it extra special. Torani syrups are a great idea for this.
*1 family-sized tea bag = 3 single sized tea bags
👨👩👧👦 For a crowd
To serve iced tea to a crowd, first figure out how many gallons you want to serve. This will vary depending on how many people are coming and how many other beverages will be served.
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 enough concentrate for 1 gallon of tea, so double or triple it as needed.
Depending on the occasion, you can also dress it up a little. In the picture below you can see how we used the iced tea concentrate at my niece’s bridal shower. The idea was to do a tea party, but since summers 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!
🙋 Questions & Answers
My rule of thumb is for every 2 cups of water I use 12 individual sized tea bags, which will make enough tea concentrate for 1 gallon of iced tea. You can also substitute 1 family sized tea bag for every 3 individual sized.
This recipe is more of a method, so no need to be exact. If you want a strong iced tea concentrate 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).
Store the concentrate in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 1 week. Then add water and serve.
📖 More summer recipes
- Summer Fruit Salad with Honey Lime Dressing
- Homemade Lemonade Concentrate
- Fruit Pizza Cookies
- Frozen Lemonade
- Creamy Lemon Pie with Raspberry Sauce
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Easy Iced Tea Concentrate (Make Ahead!)
- 16 cups water divided (2 cups for concentrate, 14 cups for turning it into tea later on)
- 12 single size tea bags various flavors (see notes for flavor 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.
Stovetop 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 serve add the concentrate and 14 cups water to a gallon sized pitcher. Serve over ice.
Add Your Own Notes
All nutrition information is provided by a third party and is an estimate only. Use your own nutritional calculator for more specific measurements.