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TIP OF THE DAY: Make Iced Tea

With warm weather upon us, our iced tea consumption rises to up to 6 bottles a day.

That’s a $10/day habit in bottled tea, $70 per week. Or, a mere fraction of that if we brew our own.

Given our combined desire to spend sensibly and consume sustainably, we focus on home brewing.

You don’t need any fancy equipment, but there are some specialty ice tea brewers that make sense for those who drink a lot of iced tea. Check out the options from Hamilton Beach and West Bend.

We personally use the Breville One-Touch Tea Maker, one of our favorite kitchen appliances. We let the hot tea cool, then pour it into recycled 16-ounce drink bottles and place them in the fridge. You can just as easily pour it into a pitcher if you prefer to serve it that way, or store the tea in recycled quart bottles.


Iced tea makers brew the tea right in
a pitcher. Photo courtesy West Bend.


Before we had the Breville tea brewer, we simply put loose tea in a large mesh tea ball/spice ball, or tea bags, and then placed it in a large mixing bowl and poured in an entire kettle of boiling water. (For green tea, don’t bring the water to boiling. The ideal brewing temperature is 180°F.)

For the best iced tea, buy loose tea from a specialty tea store. The flavors are so intense, no sugar or lemon is needed. And you’ll need less tea: Loose tea can be infused two or three times, while most tea bags are made to produce one cup of tea.

  • How to brew iced tea.
  • How to make tea, including brewing temperatures.


    1. Brian said,

      August 13, 2011 @ 7:18 pm

      Can I ask you specifically how you make your tea with the Breville One Touch Tea Maker?? We just got one and have struggling to figure out exactly how much water and tea to use, what temperature to set it out, and how long to let it brew.

      Thanks in advance if you are able to help.

    2. admin said,

      August 22, 2011 @ 12:04 pm

      Before we begin, the Breville One Touch Tea Make is NOT the appliance shown in the photo. Here it is (our favorite kitchen appliance): http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B003LNOPSG/ref=nosim/thenibble-20

      Now for the instructions:

      1) FILL THE CARAFE WITH COLD WATER, based on how many cups you want to brew. As with all coffee makers, “cups” are based on 6-ounce servings. A large mug would hold about two six-ounce “cups.” Eight “cups” gives you four full mugs. But before you fill the carafe, see the next paragraph.

      2) CHOOSE YOUR WATER LINE. Among the numerous water level markings on the side of the carafe (under the handle) you’ll note Tea Max and Water Max. Water Max is just for heating up water (if you want it for some other purpose than brewing tea, or if everyone wants a different variety of tea).

      However, if you want to brew more tea than the Tea Max line allows, just fill the water to the Water Max line. We do this every time because we drink multiple large mugs of tea (or make lots of iced tea) and want to brew as much as we can.

      The reason there are these two different lines is that, if you fill to Water, after the tea is brewed the bottom of the tea basket is sitting in the water, continuing to infuse. This is not a problem for us because we like strong tea; and the problem doesn’t exist at all if you remove the tea basket as soon as the machine beeps “ready.”

      3) NEXT FILL THE TEA BASKET. For loose tea, use the measure that comes with the Tea Maker, one measure per cup (or one generously rounded teaspoon if you don’t have a measure). Alternatively, use one tea bag per cup. Put the tea in the basket, snap the lid on, and put it at the top of the column.

      4) SELECT TEA TYPE & STRENGTH. The great thing about the Breville Tea Maker is that you don’t have to figure out how long to brew the tea. Just use the buttons on the console to tell it what type of tea you’re brewing (black, green, white, herbal) and how strong you like your tea. (Keep pressing the button until the light appears at the setting you want.) The program inside the machine knows how long to brew it for—and it lowers the tea basket into the water for the appropriate time, then raises it out of the water when the brew time ends.

      Don’t be afraid to select Strong—it’s the only setting we use. We drink our tea straight, without milk or sweetener, and thus it must taste as rich and robust as we can get it.

      Then hit the start button (at the lower right of the console) and watch the magic happen. The water starts to bubble, the tea basket is lowered, etc.

      While you’ll hear a beep when the tea is ready, unless you turn off the start button, the hot plate will keep your tea warm for 45 minutes (you can see the countdown on the clock). Then, for safety reasons, the machine turns itself off automatically.

      When we’re making tea to be iced, we remove the carafe immediately, and remove the lid and the tea basket, so that the tea will cool off. Otherwise, even if it’s not on the hot plate, the lid keeps the heat in the carafe.

      5) A TIP FOR AFTER THE TEA IS BREWED: When you lift up the tea basket to remove it, first turn it to its side so the extra tea caught in the leaves can drain into the pot. You may also then want to put it on a saucer, since a small amount of remaining liquid will ultimately drip out. Instead of a saucer, we invert the lid and place the shaken-out tea basket on top of it.

      6) A FINAL TIP ABOUT THE BREWED LEAVES: You can re-infuse good tea more than once. After we’ve brewed a full carafe (to Water Max), we’ll add another spoonful or two to the already-brewed leaves and re-brew it. Sometimes we’ll re-infuse the leaves without adding more. If the tea is too weak for us, we simply add the fresh tea to the same basket and reinfuse the “weak tea.” ‘

      7) A TIP ABOUT CLEANING YOUR CARAFE: If you don’t scrub the carafe clean (i.e., do more than just rinse it in cool water), the steel bottom of the carafe will stain over time. The staining has no impact on the brewing ability or the taste of the tea. We just wanted to point it out.

      We hope you love the Breville One Touch Tea Maker as much as we do!

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