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15 Most Refreshing Iced Teas for Summer 2021

three cups of iced tea with green and white striped straws

The sun is shining, little bits of green are already starting to peek through in our upstate gardens, and the days are getting longer and warmer...  This of course has us thinking about what iced teas we're going to be enjoying at home, on the lake, and at our Tea Bar this summer!

There's nothing more refreshing than an ice cold glass of cold brewed tea on a hot summer's day, and we're going to share a few of the best teas for making iced tea based on customer reviews and our experience of how well they brew. 

Whether you are looking for an invigorating boost of morning caffeine or a refreshing afternoon thirst-quencher, our favorite teas and caffeine-free herbal tisanes for making iced tea are sure to be a hit with you and yours. 

The Best Iced Teas for Summer

Since taste is a rather subjective measure, we are organizing our best iced teas by category and caffeine content rather than a ranking system. But stick around to the end of the article to find out what our most-requested, number one best iced tea is according to our CommuniTEA!

Best Iced Green Teas

Matcha

A wonderfully vibrant and brisk green tea made from powdered green tea leaves, Matcha is a highly caffeinated and invigorating drink - especially iced! Shake your matcha in a cocktail shaker with ice, water, and a little Mango Honey simple syrup for a delightfully tropical start to your morning!

Long Jing

One of the most famous Chinese green teas, the lightly vegetal and sweetly nutty character of Long Jing green tea makes for a refreshingly light iced green tea. We recommend pairing this delightful iced Chinese green tea with Peach Honey to make a luscious and thirst-quenching peach tea.

Kukicha

Bright and sweet, Kukicha cold brews to a brilliant lime green and has just as much lively character as its color would suggest. One of our absolute favorites iced, Kukicha pairs well with our fruit infused honeys (but we think it's best enjoyed plain)!

Best Iced Black Teas

Darjeeling

Darjeeling has long been one of the world's most popular black teas for a reason: it's absolutely delicious and extremely versatile! Well-balanced tannins with notes of malt and dried fruit make Darjeeling the perfect answer to both cold winter mornings and hot summer afternoons. We love how our Darjeeling cold brews to perfection for an excellently balanced iced black tea. Pair with local Wildflower Honey for sweet tea sippin' and front porch sittin'. 

Keemun Mao Feng

Keemun Mao Feng is probably the most-brewed iced black tea on our Tea Bar menu here at our Saratoga Springs flagship store. The lovely and mellow notes of sweet potato and chocolate give way to even tannins, making Mao Feng the perfect choice for iced black tea - whether you plan to brew it cold or hot. We recommend our Mao Feng without honey, but sweet tea lovers will enjoy Tupelo Honey in this delightfully balanced black iced tea.

Best Iced Oolong Tea

Da Hong Pao

One of our more oxidized rock oolongs, Da Hong Pao has excellent character iced. Brisk and rustic enough for the tannins to come through even cold-brewed, we love the rugged quality of this oolong for beating back the heat of summer. If you're enjoying your Da Hong Pao hot in the morning, brew your second or third steep extra long and then cool down for a refreshing iced treat in the afternoon!

Get Started on Iced Tea Season with our Good Libations Iced Tea Sampler....

Best Flavored Iced Teas

Blueberry Bumble

Lightly fruity and perfectly refreshing, this blueberry scented white tea is a makes an excellent afternoon pick-me-up or way to cool down at Fourth-of-July BBQs. Cold brew this tea for best results and enjoy a berry iced tea that's uniquely satisfying. We recommend this blueberry tea with our Lemon Tree Honey for a light and refreshing afternoon drink. 

Moroccan Mint

Nothing quenches thirst quite like a mint green tea on a hot, steamy day. The refreshing combination of invigorating mint and energizing green tea is sure to cut through any heat-induced stupor and get you going for a fun afternoon in the sun. Pair our Moroccan Mint green tea with Wildflower Honey for a sweet but refreshing pairing.

One Night in Rio

Sipping this gorgeous combination of black tea, pineapple, and coconut will transport you immediately to white sand beaches and crystal blue waters. We recommend adding a splash of Mango Honey for extra tropical vibes and think this iced tea pairs particularly well with rum for adult drinks!

Strawberry Fields

Fruity drinks have a particularly thirst-quenching quality, and iced Strawberry Fields is no exception. Delightfully light, Strawberry Fields is a refreshing blend of berries, green, and white teas. We recommend cold brewing this tea and serving lightly sweetened with Lemon Tree Honey.

Best Caffeine-Free Iced Teas

Blood Orange Hibiscus

Citrusy blood orange and tart hibiscus combine with stevia in this caffeine-free tea to make a naturally sweet and refreshing iced tea. Blood Orange Hibiscus is one of our favorite recommendations for iced tea because its sweet-tart flavor profile makes for a particularly satisfying glass. Brew this tea hot and then cool overnight in the refrigerator before straining for best results. Pair with Lemon Tree Honey for extra sweetness.

Crimson Berry

Even in winter, this sweet-tart combination of ripe berries and hibiscus is popular iced at our tea bar. A particularly refreshing combination of black currants, cranberries, elderberries, and hibiscus, our Crimson Berry is reminiscent of some Teavana faves. Brew this herbal tisane hot and cool in the refrigerator for several hours before straining for best results. Our CommuniTEA loves Crimson Berry plain with Mango or Wildflower Honey or shaken with Matcha for a berry-kick.

Fountain of Youth

On the other end of the caffeine-free spectrum we have this turmeric, black pepper, and cinnamon tisane that will appeal to black tea and coffee drinkers looking for a way to quench their summer thirst without caffeine. Wonderfully spicy and revitalizing, you'll definitely want this anti-inflammatory tisane in your summer rotation. Brew this herbal tisane hot and cool overnight in the refirgerator. Pair with Ghost Pepper Honey for a surprising, extra kick!

La Provençale

Named for southern France's famous lavender fields, La Provençale is a gorgeous blend of lavender, mint, rosemary and other herbs that will immediately transport you to summer in the French countryside. Brew this herbal tisane cold and steep overnight in the refrigerator. Shake your iced La Provençale with Matcha and Lavender Honey for a CommuniTEA favorite: the French Matcha.

Spirit of Life

A refreshing combination of grapefruit, apple, and spices, Spirit of Life is one of those fruity teas that will appeal to almost all palates. Invigorating spice from the cinnamon and cardamom will win over lovers of black tea and coffee while the grapefruit and apple appeal to lovers of bright fruit flavors. Brew this herbal tisane hot and steep overnight for best results. Pair with Orange Blossom Honey for a little extra sweetness. 

The Number 1 Iced Tea in Saratoga

iced matcha green tea in a mason jar being presented on a tray

Have you guessed which one of these iced teas is consistently considered the best in Saratoga by popular demand? If you guessed either Matcha or Crimson Berry, you'd be right! Iced Matchas are hands-down our most popular iced caffeinated drink and weeks without Crimson Berry on the menu have been known to inspire an increase in submissions to our suggestions email. 

Crimson Berry + Matcha

That said, lots of teas make excellent iced teas - even those that didn't make our short list. Learn how to cold brew iced tea below and let us know your favorite iced tea on Instagram or Facebook - or in person the next time you're in our Saratoga Springs store!

How to Cold Brew Iced Tea

We find that cold brewing makes the best iced tea when you are brewing traditional teas in the green, black, white, or oolong families (yes, this includes scented or flavored teas with traditional tea bases). Many herbal tisanes, on the other hand, benefit from being started hot (though we do recommend letting them steep overnight as well). 

Ingredients:

12 grams of tea per 1 quart of water. 

Directions for Teas:

Steep 12 grams of tea per 1 quart of water in tap water overnight in the refrigerator (~12 hours). Strain in the morning (or after 12 hours) and enjoy within a week or two. 

Directions for Herbal Tisanes:

Steep 12 grams of tea per 1 quart of water in 205F hot water. Cool to room temperature and steep overnight in the refrigerator (~12 hours) before straining. 

Recommended Iced Tea Pitchers

two glass iced tea pitchers with infusers

We've made a lot of iced tea over the years and have finally decided on our two favorite pitchers for brewing iced tea at home. We love the Takeya 2 quart pitcher with infuser basket and the 64oz Mist Iced Tea Jug. Both are excellent for brewing iced tea at home, though they are perhaps for different audiences. 

While both pitchers are excellent quality and wonderful for brewing iced tea, we do recommend them for different purposes. The Takeya pitcher is a workhorse - we use these pitchers behind our tea bar and they are great for families where small hands pour glasses of tea and fridge space is limited. The Mist Jug is more elegant and refined, making a gorgeous addition to summer tablescapes and afternoons on the porch. 

 Image of three iced teas with the words "Buy Your Iced Tea Starter Kit"

Simple Summer White Tea 'Sangrias'

I don't know about you but the last thing I want to do on a 90 degree day is turn on my stove and boil some hot water for my caffeine fix, and second to that is drinking a hot cup of tea. So what does one do when they need their tea but it's sweltering hot outside? Pull a pitcher (or jar!) of cold brew tea out of your fridge! Cold brewing tea is super easy and pretty much foolproof which is why it's our favorite way to prepare iced tea. Perhaps like me, you have a tendency to forget about your tea steeping on your counter, and by time you remember, the tea is bitter and unpalatable. With cold brew however, it's practically impossible to over-steep, so long as you don't forget it for days! I'll give you an abbreviated scientific explanation for why this is, so you can walk away from reading this blog with not only a few refreshing iced tea recipes but a little more knowledge too.

Why Cold Brew? Tea leaves contain a number of chemical compounds within them that when steeping break down, form complexes with one another and form new compounds. During the steeping process, thousands of volatile (aroma) compounds rise from the tea liquor and thousands of non-volatile (taste) compounds float within the tea liquor. Some of these compounds extract at a quicker rate than others. When you're brewing with hot water the time between extracting those first compounds and the last ones is very short so timing (and temperature) is everything. You have to stop the brewing process at just the right time to achieve the right flavor profile or else your tea will end up bitter. Cold brewing is the slow motion version of that process, the window of time between those first compounds being released and later ones being released is much larger so you have much smaller risk of ending up with a bitter cup of tea. The later compounds to release tend to be the more bitter and tannic catechins in green and white tea. Therefore, cold brewing tea tends to result in a less bitter, less astringent brew. You can also brew it stronger and have more of the theanine, more umami, more of the vegetal notes, and more of the high notes!

At Saratoga Tea & Honey we usually have 3-4 cold brew teas to choose from daily! And while we tend to be purists and love our cold brew unsweetened, sometimes you just want something a little more fun! Our Queen Bee put me up to the challenge to create some fruity tea mocktails to quench your thirst by the pool, at your picnic or at your bbq! For the three drinks below, I used three of our white teas as the cold brew base; Nan Mei Wild Buds, Bai Hao Yin Zhen, and Bai Mu Dan Wang.

At home, I have the Takeya Iced Tea Maker and I LOVE it, but since I was making three different teas I thought I would show you all how you can make cold brew with things you probably already have in your kitchen; a jar and a mesh strainer. Easy peasy!

First Step: Cold Brew. Place your tea in a 16oz jar. I just eyeball it with my cold brew because it's pretty foolproof, but if you want to be more economical than I am (I really should work on that!) you can measure out two loose tablespoons of white tea. It may seem like a lot but white tea is very voluminous and light. Fill your jar with filtered or spring water, cover and put in the refrigerator for 6-12 hours! Once your tea has done it's magic, strain it over ice into another glass! Now, for the fun add-ins!

Keep scrolling to see the thirst-quenching combinations I came up with!

Nan Mei with Peaches, Fresh Mint and Tupelo Honey 

Deliciously refreshing and summery, the idea of fresh mint and sweet peaches proved irresistible and what better honey to pair with peaches than famous southern Tupelo Honey! These add-ins compliment the tropical fruit and honeyed notes of the Nan Mei Wild Buds.

Bai Hao Yin Zhen with Cucumbers, Melon and Basswood Honey

The combination of cooling honeydew melon and refreshing English cucumber are a perfect pairing, and complimented by a touch of Basswood Honey, our light mid-western mono-floral that has a delicious hint of fresh spearmint. These add-ins accentuate the florality and vegetal notes of Bai Hao Yin Zhen (Silver Needles) one of China’s most revered teas!

Bai Mu Dan Wang with Strawberries, Lemon and Italian Lemon Tree Honey

Nothing says summer like the fresh flavor of ripe strawberries and an icy glass of lemonade. While there is no lemonade in this drink (you could certainly add some), the combination of fresh lemons and citrusy Italian Lemon Tree Honey adds that same thirst quenching quality. Also known as White Peony, Bai Mu Dan Wang is a more full-bodied white tea, and the perfect base for this combination of strawberries, sliced lemon and delectable honey from Sicily! 

There are so many fruits, herbs and florals that would pair nicely with these white teas, so get creative! I just went with what is in season and usually happens to be in my fridge. What are you going to infuse your cold brew iced tea with? Take a photo and tag us on Instagram and Facebook!

Warm Chai Apple Cider

Chai Cider

Tis' the season for a warming cup of spiced cider! This chai tea drink is a satisfying play on mulled cider and a wonderful way to greet friends for evenings around the fire pit. The cozy spices and tangy sweetness of the apple cider make this drink the ideal companion for fall evenings, both inside and out. 

We love this combination of our traditional Masala Chai, seasonal Pumpkin Spice Honey, and local apple cider to make an easy sweet and spicy mulled cider that everyone will think took you hours. Add a splash or two of Bourbon for an extra-special adult beverage, or serve with a cinnamon stick and lemon wedge for a fancy, kid-friendly treat.

How to Make Mulled Cider with Chai Tea

Ingredients:

1 half gallon of local apple cider

Optional:  Pumpkin Spice Honey, Mulling Spices (roughly 2 T) or Bourbon to taste!

To Brew Chai Tea Mulled Cider: 

1. Pour the entire half gallon of apple cider into a large pot, and turn the heat to medium/high.
2. Bring to a low boil, add the chai, stir well, and reduce the heat.
3. Cover, and simmer for about 10 minutes.
4. Remove the pot from heat.
5. Using a heat friendly measuring cup, pour (and strain with a small strainer, cheesecloth, or coffee filter) into desired cup/mug.  
6. Enjoy!