So you want to make some iced tea, huh? Awesome! Iced tea is lovely any time of the year, but it really shines during the warmer spring and summer months. Iced sweet tea has been popular down South for generations, and the craze is finally catching on. Nowadays — just as with automatic hot tea brewers — you can find all sorts of iced tea makers, from the simple to the fancy. Let’s break them down and find the best iced tea pitcher for you.
Electric Iced Tea Makers
These all work on the same principle: Place an ice-filled pitcher under the tea maker, add tea and water to the tea maker, and hit the brew button. Hot tea will be brewed directly into the ice-filled pitcher.
For a company that focuses mainly on bean brewing, I was surprised to find that Mr. Coffee actually has three different automatic iced tea makers. The best of the bunch by far, though, is the Tea Café Iced Tea Maker (list price $44.65) with its adjustable Brew Strength selector. The glass pitcher and plastic lid are dishwasher safe.
Those who prefer the sleek look of a coffee maker will appreciate the Capresso Ice Tea Maker (list price $75), a compact and stylish device with a removable water reservoir for easy filling. The glass pitcher is dishwasher safe, and the machine’s brewing strength is fully adjustable.
The Hamilton Beach 2-Quart Electric Iced Tea Maker is one of the more expensive options out there (list price $199.99), though it’s not much different from its competitors; it, too, includes an adjustable brew strength selector and automatic shutoff. The main draw is that the pitcher, when empty, can be turned upside down and nested on top of the brewer, making for compact storage.
If you’re looking for some authentic Southern sweet tea, there are two options you’ll want to check out. The Back to Basics Iced Tea Maker (list price $53.48) and the West Bend Iced Tea Maker (list price $49.99) both have separate chambers for sweetener — just add the type and amount of your choice before you brew, and it will be added directly into your iced tea. The main difference between the two is the pitcher: Back to Basics features a lovely, classic-style glass pitcher with no lid, while the West Bend machine has a more modern plastic, lidded pitcher.
Non-Electric Iced Tea Makers
If you don’t have room for yet another appliance on your countertop, a non-electric iced tea maker might be your better option. These work on a similar principle to their plugged-in brethren, but require a little more personal attention. The tea is brewed hot, timed manually (that means you), and then cooled.
The Tea Spot Steep & Chill (list price $42.46) hugs the line between hot- and cold-brewed iced tea and can be used for either method (we’ll chat about cold brewing more below). For the traditional hot-to-iced method, the Steep & Chill has a removable freezer core that helps tea cool and stay cold.
Takeya’s Flash Chill Iced Tea Maker (list price $24.99) is similar, but requires a slightly different method: Tea is brewed hot in the pitcher, then iced is added, the lid is tightly placed, and the pitcher is shaken. Takuya credits their “Flash Chill” technology with the ability to trap in flavor while quickly cooling down the tea.
For something sleek, modern, and a little different, check out the Teavanna Modern Iced Tea Maker (list price $79.95). Ice goes into the bottom part, while tea leaves and hot water go into the top. After the appropriate amount of brewing time, the top can be turned, straining the tea over the ice below. It’s pricey, but quite lovely.
The Good Old Cold Brew Method
You could also just make iced tea with any old pitcher you want. Seriously, you don’t need fancy stuff (but if you want it, that’s ok!). All you need to do is put your loose leaf tea into a filter bag or infuser, place it in your pitcher or glass, fill that vessel with cold water, and pop the whole thing into your fridge overnight. Done! You can check out my full article on cold brewing for even more information.
I’ve used my Libre Tea Glass (list price $25.56) for this method with very good results. The Libre is a wonderful, personal-sized option for making one glass of iced tea at a time, and it’s easily portable for on-the-go lifestyles. If you’d like a larger and very stylish option, check out the Hario Filter-In Bottle Wine Style Teapot (list price $18.99). Both options have built-in, removable filters that make it easy to strain your cold-brewed tea.
If you really do prefer party-sized servings, the Primula The Big 1-Gallon Iced Tea Brewer (list price $34.00) may be your best choice; it’s by far the largest pitcher of any I’ve reviewed.
Best Tea for Iced Tea
Of course, the second — and perhaps most important — component of a good iced tea is the tea itself. You’ll want the highest quality loose leaf tea you can find; stay away from tea bags. Any tea can be iced, so play around and see what you like best. Keep in mind that teas you’re not too fond of hot might taste perfect when iced. Don’t be afraid to branch out! Check out our own list of favorite loose leaf iced teas to get started.