Lemon iced tea, UK stylee

I don’t drink fizzy pop but I do love iced tea in hot weather. It’s taken me years though to work out how to make it. The problem is that we don’t traditionally drink a lot of iced tea in the UK, so all the instructions I found were American. And American tea bags are clearly Not As Strong as Brit tea bags.

When I started looking for recipes for iced tea, I assumed American ones would be best as I knew it was a popular drink there. But I was quickly surprised by the number of tea bags they prescribed. One suggested six tea bags to two pints of water, and then asked me to boil it in a saucepan for five minutes. I did – it was like the liquid you used to find in the bottom of pub garden ashtrays after it had rained.

An American friend put me on a better track by telling me about her mother making sun tea. Essentially this is just cold brewed tea, left in the sun for several hours: definitely more promising. But the recipes I found were still telling me to use a shedload of tea bags. Also, in this country there isn’t usually sufficient guaranteed sun to brew the tea. Plus I wanted to add lemon, and find that hot water works better to get the oils in the skin going for maximum lemony flavour.


So this is my trial and error version that is quick and easy, and works for me. I can tell you right now that it won’t work for you if you’re not using UK tea bags. Not being nationalistic about this, just pragmatic. Do adjust the strength, sweetening and fruit according to your own taste – you could add orange slices instead of lemon, or make it with green tea and add mint leaves. This makes about four large glasses.

Lemon iced tea

  • 1 tea bag (any variety you like)
  • sugar/sweetener/honey/agave syrup (to taste – I use 6 sweetener tablets for this quantity)
  • half a lemon, sliced

Put the tea bag, sweetening and lemon slices (I give ’em a squeeze first but this does make it cloudy) in a pitcher (mine was 1.2l) and pour over about a cup full of boiling water. Give it a stir and leave for 5-10 minutes, or more, depending on how strong you like your tea. Top up with cold water to the top of the jug, and remove the tea bag. Give it another good stir and chill till it’s good and cold. Add a few ice cubes when you pour it – you want it to be properly cold.


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