Jill-Levenhagen

Jill Levenhagen

…faith, creativity, humor and real life

How to make Black Iced Tea like Starbucks

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Fresh, clear, strong black iced tea…just like what you buy at Starbucks, at a fraction of the cost! This tea is as purely refreshing as it gets. You can make it yourself with my step-by-step instructions and info on where to source the best loose black tea!

Tall glass of black iced tea out on the front porch.

This may be my most tested advice ever.  I’ve been making this tea for years after Teavana (Starbucks supplier) shut down their retail stores and I was in a puddle of distress over how to get the tea I loved at a price I could live with.

This tastes EXACTLY like the Black Iced Tea from Starbucks!  And I went through a lot of grocery store tea to get it right.  It has to be STRONG!  It must not be CLOUDY!

And the bonuses???  I make it by the GALLON and it stays clear like this for days in the refrigerator.  That picture at the top of the page…that is ONE DAY OLD tea!  Really and truly.  Still clear, still tasting fresh!

Now let’s get to the instructions.  You must follow them all because the technique is what makes this all work.

Here is what you will need before you start:

I recommend you use a Stainless Steel 2-qt pan like in the photo.  You probably have one in the cabinet.  A larger pan is fine as long as you can use enough water to cover the tea infuser completely.

THE TEA…so important.  I buy it from Upton Tea Company.  The black tea I buy is called Java Bop.  The 250 gram packet seems to work well and stay fresh after opening.  It will make a 6 gallons of tea, so I have the bag opened for almost 2 weeks. If you go bigger, you save a few cents but may encounter a reduction of freshness.

I use loose tea, so I use this tea infuser.  It is large enough to steep enough tea to make a gallon.  The tea needs room to expand when it is steeping.  This infuser is actually 3 inches by 3 inches by 3.2 inches.

Purified Water.  I know you don’t want to do this but it is essential for the taste and for the tea to be clear and not cloudy.  I recommend a Zero Water Pitcher if you don’t have a Water Filtration System in your home.  You can also buy purified water at the store but that can get pricey.

Gallon pitcher or jug.

Sweetener of choice.

You might be tempted to fill your gallon pitcher with purified water and add the hot steeped tea on top.  I don’t know why but I think this shocks the hot tea more than adding the purified water after.  There is science involved in all of this.  I hate cloudy tea so much that I will throw it out.  So do everything you can to avoid cloudy tea!

This is strong tea.  I take my Starbucks with light ice and light water (yes you can order it that way if you need it stronger!)  If you don’t like it as strong as I do, use less loose tea.  Experiment until you get it the strength you want it.

Here’s how much money you will save by making Starbucks Tea at home!

The loose tea at Upton is very reasonably priced.  For this tea, you will end up paying just 25 cents per 16 oz glass of tea.  Instead of $2.25 at Starbucks.  A gallon of this tea will cost $2.00.  A gallon of Starbucks tea is $18.

If you need a glass of tea every day, it will cost $7.50 per month to make it at home.  If you bought it at Starbucks, it will be $67.50 plus tax.

For that matter, all you people who drink Chick-fil-a tea, and maybe buy it by the gallon:  Chick-fil-a charges $5.50.  Why not just make it at home and save HALF!

Share this post with your favorite tea drinker!  They will LOVE you for it!  Hey maybe they will take the extra $720 you saved them for the year and buy you a really sweet birthday present!

Update: how I make one big 44oz thermos for daily fresh tea!

I’ve become so particular about my tea freshness that I have evolved into making it fresh daily in my 44oz. thermos. I’m getting old people…things need to matter. And this tea brings me joy and I need it to taste amazing. Don’t get me wrong, the gallon making was a step up from my old tea making with Lipton. But when I started making it fresh every single day, I have never gone back to gallon unless I’ve having people over. No one else in this house drinks tea.

You may have a different size drink thermos than me. Adjust as needed. I purchased a few things to make this easier. First, you can’t put a stainless steel thermos in the microwave, so I needed something to boil my water in the microwave. This makes the process easier than having to use a pot on the stove to boil water. I really like this mug and it is the perfect size. You can’t just use a regular coffee mug. It needs to be tall so that the water doesn’t boil over. Also, it does include in infuser, but the infuser can’t get far enough down into the water and so I purchased this infuser.

  1. Fill the mug 2/3 full of filtered water.
  2. Microwave it for 4 minutes.
  3. Put a heaping tablespoon of loose tea in the infuser.
  4. Infuse the tea for 4 minutes.
  5. Remove infuser and add sweetener. (I use 16 packs of Splenda…don’t judge.)
  6. Fill the thermos 2/3 full of ice.
  7. Pour hot infused tea over ice. Stir. Fill the rest of the thermos with filtered water. Stir.

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Copycat Starbucks Black Iced Tea

  • Author: Jill Levenhagen
  • Total Time: 15
  • Yield: 1 gallon 1x

Description

Fresh, clear, strong black tea. This tea is as purely refreshing as it gets! Make a gallon…it stays clear for two days! Or, see the bottom for how to make a 44oz thermos to get you through the day!


Ingredients

Units Scale

1 gallon filtered or purified water

1/2 cup Loose Black Tea

Sweetener

You will need this large tea infuser:

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Instructions

  1. Fill a 2-qt pot with Purified Water.  Bring to a boil.
  2. Put 1/2 cup dry loose tea into the tea infuser.  This fills the infuser only about 1/3 of the way, leaving room to expand.
  3. Turn off the boiling water pot and insert the tea infuser.  You want the water to cover the infuser.
  4. Set a timer for 5 minutes.
  5. Remove the tea infuser and let it drip into the pan of steeped tea.
  6. Add sweetener to this pan of warm steeped tea.  We like Splenda and we use exactly 43 packets of Splenda for a gallon of tea.
  7. Dump steeped tea into a gallon pitcher.  Add Purified water to make a gallon.  Refrigerate.


Notes

Update: how I make one big 44oz thermos for daily fresh tea!

I’ve become so particular about my tea freshness that I have evolved into making it fresh daily in my 44oz. thermos. You may have a different size drink thermos than me. Adjust as needed. I purchased a few things to make this easier. Check back to the post on my site for the special mug and infuser I purchased for this.

Instructions: (1) Fill the mug 2/3 full of filtered water. (2) Microwave it for 4 minutes. (3) Put a heaping tablespoon of loose tea in the infuser. (4) Infuse the tea for 4 minutes. (5) Remove infuser and add sweetener. (6) Fill the thermos 2/3 full of ice. (7) Pour hot infused tea over ice. Stir. Fill the rest of the thermos with filtered water. Stir.

Every recipe here is my creation. The only ones I publish are those that you can’t find anywhere else!

I love cooking, and believe that technique is the key to making all food better! I was a basic “meat and potatoes” cook until I actually started being brave enough to taste foods I thought I didn’t like. That has inspired my desire to bring more flavor to all the food I love, and use more ingredients I never ate before!