After another disappointing bottle of iced tea, I thought, "Why don't I make my own iced tea? I can make it to my liking." I consulted with local tea expert Marianne Russo of Nellie's Tea in South Portland to get tips. She even warned of a method that could be dangerous.

Sandra Harris

Iced tea became popular during the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair.  Hot tea was not selling well because of the steamy weather. Richard Blechynden, a merchant in charge of the tea pavilion served it on ice and a tradition was born.

Marianne gave me some very helpful tips on making a great glass of iced tea.

Hot Steep Method:

  • Start with fresh, good tasting cold water, bring to a boil, and pour over your favorite tealeaves. (generally, 1 tsp. per every 6-8 ounces of water; when making for iced tea, increase the amount of tealeaves by about half)
  • Steep the amount of time recommended by the tea provider (generally 2-5 minutes for black, green, or oolong teas, 5-10 minutes for herbals) To avoid bitterness, do not oversteep.
  • Pack a glass or pitcher with ice and strain the tea over it, stir and serve.

 Cold Steep Method:

  • Place favorite tealeaves or teabag in a clean container (generally 1 tsp. tealeaves for every 6-8 ounces of water).
  • Add fresh, good tasting cold water.
  • Steep 10 minutes or up to several hours in refrigerator and strain to drink. (Cold steeping eliminates the bitterness which occurs when over - steeping hot tea.)


Though many people swear by their sun tea, and people have been preparing it that way for many years, it is generally not recommended. Sun tea generates a warm environment where any bacteria present on the leaves could potentially quickly multiply and cause harm. By using the other methods bacteria will be either killed by boiling water, or controlled in growth by refrigerating.

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Sandra Harris