Summers are made for grilling and chilling — with an iced drink, that is. The next time you need to cool off, look no further than an iced coffee or tea brewed right in your own home. Starting with a simple base for each, you can play with milks, sweeteners and toppings – it’s that easy!
Morning, noon or evening, iced coffee is the perfect remedy for a hot day.
It’s All About the Base
Iced coffee can be made in a variety of easy ways.
- Cold brew Start with coarsely ground coffee: too fine and the coffee may turn out cloudy. Use a ratio of two cups of coffee beans to four cups of cold water. Spoon coffee into a glass bowl and pour water over. Stir thoroughly and refrigerate for 12 hours, or overnight. Filter through a fine-mesh strainer lined with a coffee filter and transfer coffee to a clean container. Serve over ice with milk and simple syrup, if desired. See how it’s done in our how-to video.
- Hot coffee Make your coffee as you normally would – in a percolator, single serve machine or French press. Cool to room temperature, then store in the fridge until chilled. (This is a great way to use up leftovers!)
- Instant coffee Dissolve about three tablespoons of instant coffee grounds in one cup of hot water and pour into a pitcher. Add cold water, milk and sugar to taste. Refrigerate until chilled.
Mix It Up
Make it your own with these cool variations.
- Frappé. Skip the designer coffee shops and whip up something fancy using any of the above methods. Pour the coffee into a blender and add ice, milk, and some sugar to taste. Blend it up and voilà!
- Play around with milk options. Add sweetened condensed milk — a common baking ingredient — to make delicious Vietnamese-style iced coffee. Soy, almond, cashew and coconut milks are rich and creamy, and may just be your new favourites.
- Make it a sweet treat. Coffee is a traditional after-dinner refreshment, but mix it into dessert and it becomes that much better. Simply pour a hot shot of espresso over your favourite scoop of ice cream the way Italians do, affogato style, for a luxurious treat.
- Spice is nice. Infuse your drink by brewing it with spices. Try cardamom and cinnamon for an Indian chai flair or cinnamon (with a garnish of chili powder) for a bit of Mexican-style heat. Natural flavour extracts like vanilla and almond make sweet additions.
- Adult-only additions. It’s simple: Add alcohol. Irish cream and coffee-flavoured liqueurs are sure to be hits.
- Get saucy. Whether you line your cup or make fun designs atop the whipped cream, you can’t go wrong with a drizzle of dulce de leche, chocolate or caramel sauces.
- Waste savers. Freeze leftovers to make coffee ice pops, or pour into ice cube trays, freeze and use to chill future batches (this is a great trick to ensure your iced coffee isn’t diluted by regular ice cubes).
Picnics and backyard parties call for a large pitcher of sweet iced tea.
How to Make Traditional Iced Tea
The perfect backyard drink is simple. Grab a pitcher and start playing around.
- Steep. Brew your tea as you normally would with hot water; just keep in mind that when drinks are cold they are harder to taste. The ideal ratio is 2 tea bags to every 3 cups of water, or 1 ½ to 2 teaspoons of loose tea per cup of water. To boost the flavour, use more tea bags (or more loose leaf tea) rather than increasing steeping time — over-steeping brings out the tannins in tea that make it bitter.
Tip: To extract the best flavour, tea leaves need room to bloom, which is why loose tea is best. If bags are your choice, look for ones with enough of space for the tea leaves to expand when being steeped.
- Cool. Make the tea well in advance of serving to ensure there’s enough time to cool it in the refrigerator. For clear tea, let it come to room temperature before chilling or it will turn cloudy. Don’t depend on ice to cool the tea; this will only dilute the flavour.
- Sweeten and flavour. If you’re using sugar or other sweeteners (like stevia), remember to add these to hot tea so the granules dissolve. Chilled tea can be sweetened with flavoured honeys, herb- or spice-infused simple syrups or even fruits.
- Serve. Add ice (sparingly), garnish and enjoy. Like leftover coffee, you can freeze any extra tea and use the ice cubes to keep a fresh batch of iced tea chilled without worrying about it getting too diluted.
Mix It Up
Make it your own with these variations.
- Switch the tea. Whether you opt to use bags or artisanal loose leaf, you can make a different kind of iced tea each time by swapping the variety of tea. Switch traditional English breakfast or Earl Grey for chai-spiced, green, oolong or white herbal teas — there is a rainbow of variations to experiment with.
- Infuse flavour. Create your own unique sweetener by making a simple syrup infused with ginger, rose, lavender or vanilla. Warming spices like cloves, star anise and cinnamon add great depth of flavour.
- Steep tea with spices and herbs. Fresh basil, rosemary, thyme or mint pull double duty as a garnish and flavour booster. Also try cloves, cinnamon or cardamom. Play around with tea types and flavours (make use of whatever you have in your spice rack). Try mint in green teas, cinnamon in black teas and basil in white teas.
- Add fruit nectar. Puréed apricots, peaches or mangos make excellent summer additions, adding their ripe sweetness and bright colour.
- Make it a cocktail. Add some alcohol for a grownup twist. A splash of tequila, rum, vodka or whisky can work wonders when matched correctly. Pair clear spirits with lighter teas like green, white and herbal tisanes. Bolder, darker drinks work well with black or rooibos teas.