aerial shot of iced tea aerial shot of iced tea

Ice tea or Iced tea: What's the difference?

By Anna Hughes

aerial shot of iced tea aerial shot of iced tea

When it comes to refreshing beverages, there is often confusion between "ice tea" and "iced tea." While they may sound similar, there is actually a distinct difference between the two. Let's explore the difference between ice tea and iced tea, how to brew and the pros and cons of each process.

What is Ice Tea?

Ice tea, also known as "cold tea," is a type of tea that is brewed using hot water and then cooled down with ice. The tea leaves are steeped in hot water for a certain period of time to extract the flavours and aromas. Once the tea is brewed, it is poured over a glass filled with ice cubes, instantly chilling the beverage. Ice tea can be enjoyed as is or with the addition of sweeteners, lemon, or other additions.

For simplicity, we refer to this as the hot brew method.

Faster: Provided your ice is ready to go, your refreshing brew can be ready in less than 10 minutes!
Brings out spices: If your tea has spices such as cinnamon or ginger, the hot brew method will get those essential oils and intensity of flavour into the tea much better.

Taste: For teas that are high in tannin, the hot brew will have a little more astringency than a cold brew. This means it may be what some people describe as puckery or bitter, and need more sweetening. If you're choosing a high quality loose leaf however, this won't be a problem. Just remember to brew green tea at 80c or below for the best flavour profile.

What is Iced Tea?

Iced tea, on the other hand, is a different method of preparing tea. Instead of brewing the tea with hot water, iced tea is made by steeping tea leaves in cold water for an extended period of time. This slow steeping process allows the flavours to infuse gradually, resulting in a smoother and less bitter taste compared to ice tea. Once the tea is steeped, it is typically served over ice cubes or chilled in the refrigerator before serving.

To make it easy, we refer to this as cold brew method.


Smoother: Because there's no heat, the tea is incredibly smooth and sweet, needing less or no sweetener
Fresher: Fresh flavours such as green, citrus, fruity notes and herbs come out much more boldly with a slow cold brew


Time: it takes a minimum of 4 hours to get the flavour levels we like out of an iced tea, so you need to be organised! If you want to push things along, you can use slightly warm water then refrigerate which will take it down to a couple of hours.

Basic Process of Hot Brewed Ice Tea

To make a refreshing glass of ice tea, follow these simple steps:

  1. Boil water
  2. Add 2 heaped teaspoons/teabags of tea leaves per cup you're making to your teapot or cup.
  3. Pour the hot water (half the amount of your final drink, aka half a cup pp) over the tea leaves and let it steep for the recommended time (usually 3-5 minutes).
  4. While you're waiting, fill a glass with ice cubes.
  5. Pour the brewed tea over the ice cubes, instantly cooling it.
  6. Add sweeteners, lemon, or other flavourings if desired.
  7. Stir well and enjoy!

Basic Process of Cold Brewed Iced Tea

If you have the time, iced tea can bring out fresher, smoother flavours. Here's how you can brew it:

  1. Fill a pitcher with cold water.
  2. Add tea leaves or tea bags to the cold water (2 teabags or scoops of tea per cup of water)
  3. Place the pitcher in the refrigerator and let it steep for several hours or overnight.
  4. Once the tea is steeped to your desired strength, remove the tea leaves or tea bags.
  5. Fill a glass with ice cubes.
  6. Pour the chilled tea over the ice cubes.
  7. Optional: Add sweeteners, lemon, or other flavourings to enhance the taste.
  8. Gently stir and savour the refreshing flavour of iced tea!

Now that you know the difference between ice tea and iced tea, as well as the basic brewing processes for each, you can choose the perfect beverage to quench your thirst. Whether you prefer the quick and cooling effect of ice tea or the smooth and mellow taste of iced tea, both options offer a delightful way to enjoy the flavours of tea in a refreshing form.

Head back to our blog for a cheat sheet on our favourite iced teas and delicious mocktail recipes.


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