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How to Make Iced Tea with Loose Leaf Tea

Plant Based Recipes

Last Updated on January 23, 2024

Cold brew iced tea with loose leaf tea is easy and delicious. Served over ice it’s super smooth, refreshing, and never bitter.

Drinking loose leaf tea is not only thirst-quenching, easy to make, and healthier, but it’s also better for the environment. Regular tea bags have plastic that has been woven into them. Yes, you read that right…you’re steeping your daily cup with a side of polypropylene. Delicious!

Let’s look at a more sustainable way to make iced tea using loose leaf tea.

pitcher and two glasses with loose leaf iced tea

benefits of drinking cold brew iced tea

  • Traditional tea bags are filled with polypropylene and loose leaf tea isn’t.
  • It’s quick to prepare.
  • You only need a tea strainer, jar of loose leaf tea and a pitcher to store it in.
  • The flavor is smooth and not bitter.
  • Cold brew extracts a smaller amount of caffeine into the tea.

This post was sponsored by Arbor Teas. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. Please see my full disclosure for more information.

two packets of arbor tea

best loose leaf tea

Finding loose leaf tea available in bulk/without plastic packaging can be rough without a nice tea shop or extensive health food store. 

If you can’t purchase loose leaf tea locally, you can order online from Arbor Teas. Their natural teas are completely plastic free and their dedication to sustainability is amazing!

cutting open loose leaf tea packet

Arbor Teas have partnered with Carbon Fund to offset everything! But before the tea even gets to their Michigan headquarters, they’ve sourced their teas from sustainable, organic, fair trade, bio dynamic farms. 

These farms aren’t just interested in minimizing their impact on the environment, they’re actively trying to have a positive effect on the environment! 

Once the tea gets to their solar-powered facility they package it up in compostable packaging. 

pouring loose leaf tea packet

And, their packaging is COMPLETELY compostable down to the label! What I found to be so fascinating is that they used to send the tea in paper tubes and a kraft bag, but switched to cellulose (which breaks down in a backyard compost bin) to save on the weight of the package. 

The switch to cellulose reduced the weight by 60% which means a lower carbon footprint! 

pouring brewed tea into glasses

This is a company that has thought about everything! But, don’t take my word for it just let me list all of their certifications: USDA Organic, Fair Trade Certified, Green America Certified Business, Carbon Free Certified, Certified Compostable Packaging, International Green Industry Hall of Fame. 

Read more about Arbor Teas sustainability initiatives.

You know I love their matcha, but their Pomegranate White Tea is my go to summer drink – especially for parties! I like to make a gallon of tea for parties. I personally think this Pomegranate White Tea is so delicious it doesn’t even need any sweetener.

two packets of tea

Being from Arkansas, we’re pretty die hard on the sweet tea, but I think garnishing with some sweet fruit or even a lemon wedge does the trick! 

It’s really important to note that you brew white teas with simmering water not boiling water. You’re looking for 180 degrees or when the bubbles start to form on the bottom of the pan. 

Now there are two ways to make the iced tea. 

  1. The night before
  2. The – oh crap – guests are coming over in an hour

I’m going to show you how to make both! 

drinking a glass of cold brew tea

how to make ice tea the night before

  1. Bring 16 cups of water to a simmer approx 180 degrees
  2. Remove the pot from the heat
  3. Add in the loose leaf tea
  4. Begin steeping the tea for 2-3 minutes 
  5. Strain out the tea leaves
  6. *OPTIONAL* If adding in sugar, add it now
  7. Store the tea in a sealed container in the fridge and it will be nicely chilled for the following day! 

how to make cold brew tea

  1. Combine water and loose leaf tea in a pitcher.
  2. Place covered pitcher in the fridge and continue steeping the tea for 8-24 hours, depending on how strong you want it.
  3. Strain tea with some cheesecloth and serve over ice.

how to make loose leaf tea quickly

  • 1 Regular 1.5 oz bag of Pomegranate White Tea
  • 8 cups of water  
  • A lot of ice
  1. Fill your 1 gallon container with ice
  2. Bring 8 cups of water to a simmer approx 180 degrees
  3. Remove the pot from the heat
  4. Add in the loose leaf tea
  5. Let it steep for 2-3 minutes 
  6. Strain out the tea leaves
  7. *OPTIONAL* If adding in sugar, add it now
  8. Pour the hot water into the gallon container with the ice. The hot water will melt the ice and dilute the tea mixture to the perfect level, leaving you with a refreshing treat and ready to party! 
pitcher with glasses of loose leaf iced tea

can you sweeten tea?

Yes, you can add sugar, honey, maple syrup or even fresh fruit to sweeten the cold brew tea. Fresh strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries all have high natural sugar content if you like it really sweet. Or you can opt for lemon, lime or orange wedges for a more subtle sweetness.

does tea need to be refrigerated?

Unless you are planning to drink the tea warm, it’s important to refrigerate it. Refrigerating the tea will not only provide you with cold tea when you are ready for it, but it also prevents bacteria from growing. Tea that sits out can grow bacteria very quickly, so you should drink it right away or chill it.

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  1. As an avid tea drinker I’ve been looking for some loose leafs to try in order to avoid the plastic associated with tea bags! Any chance Arbor Teas offered a discount code for your readers? Just thought I’d check! 🙂

  2. For plastic free july I switched to a safety razor, a menstrual cup and cloth pads! We also started buying more in bulk to skip the packaging! We love it! I already drank my tea in a metal tea ball so no changes there!