Make Your Own Refrigerator Tea

Man drinking tea at home
Tuan Tran/Moment/Getty Images
  • Prep Time
    600 min
  • Cook Time
    0 min
  • Total Time
    600 min
  • Yield
    2 quarts

Looking to brew up refreshing iced tea without making your kitchen hot or putting your health at risk with sun tea? Give refrigerator tea a try.

Refrigerator tea is the perfect alternative to sun tea and it is a great way to save money on drinks. For just a dollar or two, you can make a pitcher of tea while you sleep. Make as much as you like in each batch and add fun flavors with ingredients you already have.

This trick is a very easy way to cold-brew tea. As the technique suggests, there is no heat used in this process so you will need to allow the tea to steep for 8-10 hours for the best flavor.

Ingredients

  • 6-8 tea bags (use more or less according to taste)
  • 2 quarts distilled water

Preparation

  1. Fill a two-quart pitcher with cold water.
  2. Add your tea bags.
  3. Steep in the refrigerator overnight.
  4. Sweeten with sugar (if desired) and serve.

Customize Your Refrigerator Tea

Don't worry about buying the best tea, the standard tea bags you would use for sun tea are perfect and very inexpensive. There are many frugal ways that you can enhance its flavor as well.

  • Create a custom tea blend by mixing different teas. Toss in some mint with Earl Grey or a chamomile tea bag with a few 'regular' (and cheap) tea bags.
  • Use your own herbs to enhance the tea. Cut herbs fresh from the garden or break into your dried herb stash and add them to a tea ball to enhance the tea's flavor.

Serving Ideas 

  • Garnish with slices of citrus fruit, berries, fresh mint or edible flowers.
  • Sweeten your tea with or without flavor by using a homemade simple syrup instead of sugar. It's very cheap and easy to make yourself. Almost any flavor - mint, lavender or lime, for example - can be added to the syrup.
  • Arnold Palmer, anyone? Add a little flavor by mixing tea with lemonade or fruit juice for a nice change. 
  • Bring in a little sparkle by topping your tea off with club soda, ginger ale or another light soda.
  • Fill an ice cube tray with tea and freeze to create ice cubes that won't water down your drink.
  • Better yet, add fresh or dried herbs like rosemary or mint to the tea before freezing for a little extra flavor. Fresh berries work well, too.

    What's Wrong with Sun Tea?

    While sun tea has long been a favorite summer drink, there are concerns about brewing tea for a long time in the hot sun.

    The primary reason is that the heat and rays from the sun can cause bacteria to grow in your tea. If you have ever noticed long strands in your sun tea, that's bacteria!

     This is particularly true if you are like many sun tea brewers and allow your tea to steep for many hours - 3-4 hours is the recommended maximum. 

    Refrigerator tea may take a little longer to brew, but the results are the same! You can also feel good about serving this safe tea to your family and friends.