“My” Home Brewing Technique

After a long period of mainly consuming either fresh brewed tea from restaurants or bottled Tejava iced tea, I have started to really enjoy brewing tea at home for my daily consumption.  You can read the reviews of a number of traditionally home brewed teas by clicking here, and instant teas here.  After tasting a number of these teas, I have settled on two that I enjoy the most.  Those being S&D iced tea and Mighty Leaf organic black tea. Both rank very high in flavor and price. You can read a more in depth analysis of those teas by clicking here.

As far as preparing the tea, I have also tried a number of methods over the years. At first I would try to follow the instructions on the box as closely as possible. This will usually give you a pretty good tasting tea.  However, in my experience, if you want to brew the tea stronger than normal, steeping the tea for longer than the recommended time can cause many teas to have an astringent taste.

A few years back, I also tried an iced tea maker. The one I owned was the Mr. Coffee brand maker shown here. This model specifically has some issues which would lead me to not recommend it. First the plastic parts are prone to leaking and also hard to get clean. This is one of their cheaper models and if you are going to try a brewing machine like this I would try one with less plastic parts and a glass pitcher.  Mr. Coffee makes a more expensive model sold here on Amazon, and so does Capresso.  These are fine options for iced tea brewing, but all of these types of machines brew in the same way, which I don’t believe give you the best tasting tea.

Another tea making option that I have found intriguing is the Tekeya flash chill iced tea maker sold here. I admittedly have not tried it, but it gets pretty good reviews on Amazon and I like the design. However I am pretty sure it is plastic and I prefer to avoid both brewing and storing my iced tea in plastic. I feel like it negatively affects the taste.

As of late, I have settled on the brewing technique that I heard about from Chipotle’s customer service (click here for more info) and I have really enjoyed the result.  Basically this involves putting a tea bag in a stainless steel pot on the stove with half the amount of water you intend to finish with. For example if I were to use a Mighty Leaf organic black tea gallon sized tea bag, I would start with half of a gallon (64 ounces) of water. Or for the S&D brand half gallon tea bags I will start with 32 ounces of water.  I then begin heating the water until a decent amount of foam forms at the edges and on the top of the liquid in the pot.  This usually takes about 5-10 minutes.  The tea bag is then removed from the pot (ideally a little before the water starts boiling) and then it’s allowed to boil for an additional 1-2 minutes.  Chipotle noted there is a risk of the tea bag exploding which I have not experienced. After allowing the tea to boil, I immediately pour it over an equal amount of ice. For me this technique has resulted in more consistent and stronger tasting iced tea, regardless of what brand of tea I use.  I have also not experienced the astringent taste I sometimes got when I tried to brew the tea a bit stronger using the instructions on the box.

For storing the tea I have really liked using this Bormioli Rocco brand glass pitcher I found on Amazon. It is a really nice shape that fits in the refrigerator very nicely. It also has a sealable lid which keeps the tea from picking up tastes from the fridge. Because of its large opening, the pitcher is also quite easy to clean. My one complaint is that it would be nice if they made it in a larger size that could hold more than 68 ounces. Also if using this pitcher or any pitcher that is not intended for hot liquids, it is critical that there is plenty of ice in the pitcher prior to pouring in the hot tea so that it will be rapidly cooled. 

Enjoy, and feel free to tell me your favorite way of brewing iced tea in the comments.

12 Comments Add yours

  1. aaronpriven says:

    25 years ago (damn I’m old) I bought a Mr. Coffee “TM1” iced tea maker, and I still use the original steeper (or whatever it’s called, the thing that the tea sits in while it’s steeping). The ones you buy now have a little hole in the bottom of the steeper and it sits there for a while before draining out. The original ones didn’t just have a hole — they had a little latch that could be opened or closed. You can still see where the latch was intended to go if you look at the more recent steepers, there’s a place where it was designed to fit.

    I’ve broken the pitchers several times and at one point I ended up buying a whole new unit because it was cheaper than buying the pitchers separately, so I use the newer heating unit, but I gave the old one from 25 years ago to my mom and she still uses it.

    Anyway, I use this all the time, and the only down side is that it does require a lot of ice. When I moved in with my non-tea-drinking now-wife the number of ice trays we would have in our fridge became a real issue! But it makes the tea quickly and consistently and I’m glad I have it.

    By the way I do run the steeper and pitchers through the dishwasher. The pitchers seem fine. The steeper is a bit discolored but you know what, I bought the thing in 1993, it would be amazing if it weren’t.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I would like to know what you think about the technique I use (borrowed from Chipotle)

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  2. aaronpriven says:

    It sounds like it’s worth trying, and I will give that a shot the next time I’m in a strange kitchen (e.g., on a vacation rental).

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Melena Demestihas says:

    Hi! Im with you on chipotle having the best tasting tea! I often buy food there just to get the tea! Anyways, i used your technique but i have, what may be a dumb question. when you say you use 32 oz of water to boil the half gallon bag, and pour over the same amount of ice, does that mean you pour it over 32 oz of ice as in you use a measuring cup to scoop 32 oz or the weight of ice is 32 oz? Lol i know this may sound silly, i tried it using a measuring cup full of 32 oz of ice but the tea was lighter then i like it. Or maybe i just need to double the bags. I just wanted to clarify. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. To make 64 ounces of tea I start with 32 ounces of water, brew the tea, then fill a 64 ounce pitcher half full of ice. Usually I get a tea that is quite dark. If you don’t I might recommend brewing at a lower temperature so it brews longer before it begins to boil.

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    2. And you are using the S&D brand tea bags correct?

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  4. Hwyman says:

    Thanks for getting and posting the instructions from Chipotle! One question about your technique…how high do you heat the water? That is to say, what is the burner set to? I started with cold water from the fridge (wanted the filtered water from the door dispenser) and it took about 10 minutes on high on my small burner to get to a boil. I found the end result a little weak, although I might have pulled the bag too early.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My burner is set to medium, but I would imagine each burner is likely to be a little different. Typically it takes longer than 10 minutes (closer to 15-20 min) for mine to boil, so I would recommend turning down the temperature. Also I have been pulling my bag right when I see the first sign of boiling. Glad you are enjoying the site!

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  5. Melena Demestihas says:

    Yes, using the s & d bags; i will try turning down the temp thats a good idea.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Rick Hinman says:

    Well, I am glad you to see you followed my advice about Raising Canes! I choose my restaurants by the tea not always the food.
    Let’s get to my next challenge. The Charleston Tea Plantation for home brewing. This is the ONLY tea grown in the United States!! This is a must see, not to mention taste. The first cut tea is really unique and the only place you will ever get such a privilege.
    This is very important, you must order the tea by calling the plantation direct to order! Do NOT order online! This plantation is in the Bigelow Tea Family and if you order online you get Bigelow tea – NOT Charleston Tea Plantation tea. Please on your next vacation, please head to Charleston and take this tour, you will learn far more about tea! So please contact Charleston Tea Plantation at 1-843-559-0383.
    You will not ever be the same when it comes to tea at home. I didn’t steer you wrong about Raising Cane’s so take the leap and order this product. But as I said please call, do not order it online. Go look at the product selection to decide what you want, I recommend them all! Then call to order to make sure you get tea actually from this one and only tea grower in the U.S.A.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Aaron says:

    Quick question about El Pollo Loco mango tea. Can you purchase the tea bags or know where to buy them?

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    1. Sorry for the delayed response. I tend to stick with plain black teas, but I assume the brand of the mango tea is the same as El Pollo Loco’s black tea, which is Gold Peak brand fresh brewed tea. I did contact Gold Peak a few years ago and at that time you could not purchase Gold Peak tea bags to brew at home. Hope this helps

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