Tips for the best iced tea — including tea ice cubes

 Custom teas
Mandarin Silk, plum oolong and French lemon ginger are among the many blended teas crafted by Steve Schwartz.
(Cheryl A. Guerrero / Los Angeles Times)

Summer is for iced tea. In fact, Steve Schwartz says 85% of all the tea sold in the U.S. is served that way.

“We’re huge iced tea drinkers,” he says.

The Art of Tea’s classic black iced tea recently won an award for best iced tea at the World Tea Expo. But the company actually makes a dozen iced teas, including blends such as summer peach, green pomegranate and passionfruit jasmine. Each is sold as a four-pack of biodegradable iced tea pouches with just enough tea (about seven teaspoons of loose leaf tea) to make a two-quart pitcher. ($7.50 to $9.50). That works out to something like $1 a quart, much more economical than picking up a bottled iced tea.

Schwartz prefers the cold-brew method: Use the same amount of tea-to-water ratio as you would hot: one teaspoon per cup. Don’t heat the water — just add cold water in a pitcher, cover and leave overnight for eight to 10 hours.


“You end up with a less tannic tea that way. It’s just really sweet and round. And because we’re using whole leaf and we’re sourcing from different farms in order to create the blend, it’s brisk, it’s bright, it’s clean and doesn’t need any added sweetness.”

Another advantage with cold-brew is that it can last up to three or four days, something he wouldn’t recommend with hot-brewed iced tea.

He’s also been experimenting with making iced tea cubes to chill down the tea. That way your tea isn’t diluted as the cubes melt. Steep one teaspoon of tea in one cup of hot water (206 degrees) for three to five minutes. Pour into an ice cube tray and freeze.

Schwartz also likes to add the tea ice cubes to lemonade to make an impromptu Arnold Palmer.


—S. Irene Virbila