Iced tea is one of those naturally dairy-free joys in life. It’s a refreshing burst of energy on a warm day that’s far healthier than your average cold drink. Cate O’Malley shared her basic iced tea recipe (from Real Simple) and some flavor ideas with us. Over the years, we’ve discovered some more great add-ins, so we’re updating this post with all eight flavor options, plus a bonus idea. It’s seemed like good timing since tomorrow is National Iced Tea Day!
Basic Iced Tea with 8 Refreshing Flavor Options
Enjoy one of these options for flavoring your homemade iced tea (recipe below) or the ice!
Ginger & Honey Flavor Booster
Add 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger and 1/3 cup honey while the tea is still hot. Strain, if desired.
Pomegranate Juice & Lime Flavor Booster
Add 2 cups pomegranate juice, 3 limes (thinly sliced), and 1/4 cup sugar to the warm or cooled iced tea.
Peach & Mint Flavor Booster
Add 4 ripe peaches (cut into 1/2-inch pieces) and 1 small bunch fresh mint sprigs to the warm or cooled tea. Sweeten with sugar, if desired.
Add 1/8 of a medium size watermelon (cut into small triangles) and 1 small bunch fresh basil sprigs to the warm or cooled tea. Sweeten with sugar, if desired.
Citrus Berry Flavor Booster
Wrap thin orange or lemon peel strips around berries, skewer them, and insert into the iced tea glasses.
Mojito Flavor Booster
Muddle lime wedges with mint leaves and a little sugar in a glass. Add ice, iced tea, and stir.
Arnold Palmer Ice
Freeze lemonade into cubes and use those cubes in place of plain ice with your iced tea. It’s more tea-forward than a classic Arnold Palmer, but adds a nice sweet lemon flavor.
Freeze edible flowers or herbs (like mint or basil leaves) with water in ice cube trays. Use this infused ice in place of the ice in your iced tea. You can alternatively freeze the floral or herb ice in a metal ring mold, which can be added to a punch bowl. If using edible flowers, make sure they are free of pesticides and fertilizers. Remove the stems and leaves, and rinse the blooms before using. Or look for prepared edible flowers in the produce section of your supermarket.
Bonus Ice Option for Purists
If you don’t like diluted tea, free some of your prepared iced tea into cubes. Use the iced tea cubes instead of plain ice with your iced tea.
Choosing the Right Tea for Your Basic Iced Tea
Black tea is a classic, but there are other options for your basic iced tea. Here is a quick little guide from the Tea Association, to help you pair teas with your dairy-free meal or recipe. They’re listed from lightest to most intense in terms of both taste and caffeine.
- White teas exhibit a natural sweetness and lightness. Their subtle flavors pair well with mild tasting sweets or simple salads that don’t overpower the flavor of the tea. Fresh flavors like watermelon basil and citrus berry complement the delicate taste of white tea.
- Green teas, such as Sencha and Jasmine, have a more delicate flavor profile, characterized as grassy or citrusy. They pair well with subtly flavored foods, such as seafood, rice and vegetables. When it comes to flavors, green tea is rather versatile. But our favorite add-ins are still ginger and honey.
- Oolong teas, such as Wuyi Shan and Pouchong, are characterized by a slight smoky flavor and a sweet, nutty finish. These teas pair well with spicy or smoky foods, seafood dishes and fruit. For flavor enhancements, peach and mint are wonderful with oolong.
- Black teas from traditional origins such as India, Sri Lanka and China, as well as English and Irish breakfast varieties and flavored black teas such as Earl Grey and Darjeeling, are characterized by a strong, aromatic flavor. These teas pair well with dark chocolate, eggs, meats and heartier foods. Since black teas are stronger, they hold their own with most flavor pairings, but our favorite in summer is the
Special Diet Notes: Basic Iced Tea with Flavor Options
By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, gluten-free, grain-free, nut-free, peanut-free, soy-free, vegan, vegetarian, and paleo-friendly.
- 8 cups boiling water
- 8 black tea or green tea bags
- Flavor booster (optional; see post above)
- Ice, to serve (see post above)
- Pour the boiling water into a heat-resistant pitcher. Add the tea bags and let steep for 10 minutes.
- Remove the bags, squeeze the liquid from them, and discard.
- Let the tea cool to room temperature before refrigerating.
- Add any of the flavor boosters, if desired.
- Fill glasses with ice. Pour the cooled tea over ice to serve.