Iced tea with no extra heat in the kitchen or the refrigerator -- what could be better on a hot day?

Cold Brewed Ice Tea

Iced tea is a summer staple, and a great choice on boats when you really don’t want another soda or beer.

But how to make it without boiling water or putting something hot in the refrigerator?

Basically, when it’s over 100º F. outside, I don’t want to have heat from the stove or humidity from boiling water inside the boat. And the refrigerator is running almost nonstop, and I don’t want to overtax it by putting in a bottle of hot liquid as would happen with sun tea.

Cold-brewed tea is the perfect answer. Just add tea bags to a bottle of water, put it in the refrigerator, and let it brew as it chills. No heat or humidty in the boat and no load on the refrigerator beyond what any other stored drink would impose on it.

Quart or half-gallon bottles typically work best, but you can use any size that fits in your refrigerator. A leak-proof cap is about the only requirement.

Fill with water, leaving a good inch of air space at the top.

Put the tea bags inside, leaving the tags hanging outside. I use 1-1/2 tea bags per cup of water, or 12 regular size tea bags in a half gallon container. If you use familys-size tea bags, adjust the number accordingly.

NOTE: I like my tea fairly strong; if you prefer yours weaker, use fewer bags.

Screw the lid on tightly and place in the refrigerator until cold. By the time the water’s cold, it will have brewed and be “tea-flavored.”

I usually put a half gallon bottle in the refrigerator just before going to bed, and then we drink it the next afternoon. It’s always best to restock the refrigerator at night, so it can do the work of chilling things down during the coolest part of the day (read more about this and other ways to make your refrigerator more efficient here).

Just recently, I saw that Lipton’s (and probably some other brands) were selling special tea bags for cold brewed tea and bought a package to try. I really didn’t notice a difference in the finished product — despite saying that the tea would be fully brewed in 5 minutes of frequent dunking, it tasted more like colored water at that point. Left overnight, it brewed to a normal taste. Bottom line: the special cold brew tea bags aren’t necessary and really don’t add anything.

Variations: instead of just using “regular” (black) tea, try a mix of different teas. I usually use half black tea, and add whatever others I find: green tea, Constant Comment, lemongrass, and jamaica (hibiscus) are all great by themselves or mixed together.

Want more boat-friendly recipes? Check out The Boat Galley Cookbook with over 800 recipes or get a free PDF sample of it with 30 recipes:


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  • Erin Jackson
    Posted at 12 July 2015 Reply

    I’m so glad you posted this! We drink a lot of tea. When we leave the states and Arizona tea isn’t available, you’ve given us another option. I was planning on making Sun tea, cold brewed is even better!

  • Chuck Wass
    Posted at 12 July 2015 Reply

    It’s HOT for our little fury friends too Don’t forget ice cubes in Paz’s water dish !!! Hopefully hes not tied up under the boat ?

  • The Boat Galley
    Posted at 12 July 2015 Reply

    She gets cold water several times a day (no ice for her or us) and is currently napping in front of the AC. She’s the lucky one who doesn’t have to work outside!

  • Roberta Nunemaker
    Posted at 12 July 2015 Reply

    I just tried one of those Cool Towels from Sports Authority and they work amazingly well…it really cools u down…Great help!

  • StarWish246
    Posted at 14 July 2015 Reply

    Did you try making Cold Brewed Coffee to make iced coffee in the summer? It is just like the tea.
    First, you fill a container 60% with water. Then, you add coffee grounds. The more grounds, the richer (concentrated) the coffee will be. I like to make it very rich. This makes the container last for 2-3 days. After the grounds are added, fill the container the rest of the way up with water. Shake the container to wet, and mix the coffee grounds. Shake the grounds to mix several times throughout the time that the container is cold brewing, to make sure that the coffee grounds ‘leach’ the flavor out into the water.
    Let the coffee mixture stay overnight in the fridge.
    The next day, line a strainer with a coffee filter, and pour the coffee mixture through the strainer/filter to transfer the cold brewed coffee mixture in to another container. I just use a mixing bowl. Then, when the grounds are cleared out (you may need 2 or so coffee filters for this) just rinse the original container out (for any remaining coffee grounds) and return the coffee mixture to the original container. Keep in fridge. Enjoy.

    • Carolyn Shearlock
      Posted at 14 July 2015 Reply

      I’ve done it a couple times, but I’m far more an iced tea drinker than iced coffee . . .

  • Sheryl Shard
    Posted at 18 June 2016 Reply

    Thanks Carolyn. I’m looking forward to trying this!

  • Roy Hulse Cox
    Posted at 18 June 2016 Reply

    Lipton …. (shudder)

  • Joanna Antkowiak Castells
    Posted at 19 June 2016 Reply

    Try Tazo’s passion tea – my favorite!

  • Cheryl Geeting
    Posted at 24 February 2017 Reply

    We love iced tea and never thought of this. Thanks for the tip!

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