Square Zero

Five Gallons of Iced Tea

Posted by Eric (June 27, 2007 at 4:34 pm)

Iced Tea BrewingI am probably one of the few non-restaurateurs who needs to know how to make five gallons of iced tea, but if there are any other A/C-hating, do-it-yourselfer fathers of large families out there, here’s my recipe—which you see my sons Nate and Sam and I testing out one evening here to the right.

But first, an explanation. Last week I took vacation time to build a large playhouse/fort in the backyard. I’ll post an article about that soon, once all the loose ends are tied up. But it was pretty hot last week, and it’s been hot all month. We finally got sick of making five and six pitcher of iced tea a day and decided to make a whole lot all at once.

First of course you’ll need a five gallon cooler. Plus a box of Lipton Cold Brew “Pitcher Size” iced tea bags, and a large bottle of lemon juice, and a colander the right size to place in the top of the cooler without it dropping all the way down.

Open up the iced tea bags and place them in the colander, on the counter. You don’t want any tea bags steeping too much or too little, so wait until you’ve unpacked them all—22 total—before dropping the colander into the water.

Iced Tea BrewingWhy the colander? This way you keep all the tea bags together, and there’s much less chance that you’ll leave one behind and wind up busting it open when you’re mixing in the sugar and lemon juice. That’s a real drag. Pretty much ruins the lot.

As for the water, I usually use filtered water for anything I’m going to drink, but it would take about a day to get five gallons out of our RO system, so tap water it is. If you’ve got a team working, one man can fill the cooler while the others are unwrapping the tea bags.

Submerge the tea bags in the water and let them steep for about four minutes. The usual time is three, but it seems like this volume needs an extra minute.

Remove the colander and place it in a bowl where you can safely squeeze the bags out without worrying about breaking one of them. Pour the salvaged tea goodness from the bowl in to the cooler.

I like my tea moderately sweet and very lemony. So I use 6 fluid ounces of lemon juice and 2.25 cups of sugar for a five-gallon batch.

Now you’ve got to refrigerate the tea. Fortunately I have a fridge dedicated to beer brewing, where there’s usually room for a five gallon cooler, especially in summer when I rarely brew, it being too hot to ferment wort at the low temperatures I consider ideal for a good ale.

I would love to know if anyone tries this recipe. It’s no stroke of genius or anything, but it might be nice to know what kind of volume of lemon juice and sugar you need for such a large batch—and about the tea bag bursting problem; I’d have appreciated the information. But having discovered it myself, I am sharing it with the world.


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11 Responses to “Five Gallons of Iced Tea”

  1. James says:

    Hmmm… Lipton tea aint all that great, IMHO. I’d always go for Tetley, or PGtips, or another fine British brand. Tough – Eric – I noticed you had the tea bags floating around with their labels still attached – do those staples add anything to the flavour?

    Another matter – as with all these high tannin teas…do you not find a great deal of scum is produced – floating on top of the cooled tea?

    To avoid this – and to avoid all the tannin which is pretty ungood for you….and the caffeine as well…. try using Rooibos tea. We in the Fitzgerald household are major converters to all things Rooibos. It’s high in anti-oxidants, and naturally low in tannin, produces no scum when cooled, and is naturally caffeine free – meaning it hasn;t gone through nasty bad de-caffeination process. so altgether rooibos (otherwise known as Red Bush) is VERY good for you!

    It also tastes much better than ‘normal’ tea….though takes a while to get used to.

    If you haven’t tried it, i recommend it. La la laaah.
    sorry – bit of a tea nerd. true Brit, me.


    Comment posted July 2nd, 2007 at 10:36 am
  2. Eric says:

    You’re right, James, Lipton is pretty mediocre stuff. But they’re the only ones I know who make this “cold brew.” I’ve been meaning to try the more elaborate process of making five gallons of hot brewed tea, but that would take a lot of time!

    Comment posted July 3rd, 2007 at 11:38 am
  3. James says:

    Oh I get it. Didn’t realise there was a tea bag that was brewed cold. Never met that before.
    Did you ever try Rooibos? I heartily recommend it. I’m a bit of a teavanegelist, you know.

    Am brewing my own elderflower wine at the moment. Bubbling away nicely in the garage. First time I’ve done this…and am making 7 gallons of the stuff – which should make 48 bottles just in time for Christmas. That’s my presents sorted out, anyway! ;o)
    Hope all’s well with Sarah… JF

    Comment posted July 4th, 2007 at 8:05 am
  4. TMLutas says:

    From my college days, I’ve done hot tea a gallon at a time, poured the stuff into a cleaned out milk container, and refrigerated. I brewed strong as this was “stay awake for finals” stuff and actually managed to get supersaturated tea. It’s quite odd to tap a gallon container and see the caffeine pop out of solution.

    Comment posted July 5th, 2007 at 4:40 pm
  5. Quinn says:

    Oh man, I tried Lipton Green Tea and it was horrendous!

    Here are the links to the videos of the Face The Truth Tour from yesterday I’ve uploaded.

    Here’s the short one

    Here’s the long one that has @ 5 minutes of you speaking at the end.

    Comment posted July 16th, 2007 at 1:54 am
  6. Jimmy Osbourne says:

    LOL, I can’t even imagine what I’ll do with 5 gallons of iced tea 🙂

    Comment posted June 29th, 2008 at 9:44 am
  7. ES says:

    I’ve just sun brewed 2 4-gallon containers of tea! I was awarded drinks for a picnic for 90, having both a very small budget and very small children that don’t need extra sugar or caffeine I decided on fruit teas that both kids and adults could enjoy. I just happened to have 2 empty water containers (the big ones for the bubbler).

    I filled the containers w/tap water and then the dilemma hit me…how did I get the tea bags back out of the narrow opening? Tongs wouldn’t suffice…the bags didn’t have strings, besides that, what if one burst? Eww, tea scum! So after careful deliberation I took a pair of NEW $.99 nylon knee highs and filled them with the tea bags, stuffed one down the narrow opening of each bottle and twisted the elastic tops around the bottle tops, added bonus, no bugs allowed in!

    My sister says this sounds disgusting and I shouldn’t tell anyone, but I swear, they were new and the nylons were rinsed/dried for any manufacturing dust. Why not?!

    Results….a container each of perfectly peach and vanilla rooiboos teas. I just wasn’t sure how much sugar to add, I like it straight up but I’m trying to appeal to middle America Kool-Aid/Soda guzzlers, so I’ll start with your suggested sugar amounts and see where it goes from there!

    I probably won’t tell this story at the picnic tomorrow, but love the possiblity to tell someone of my….genius? Thanks all! E

    Comment posted July 18th, 2008 at 10:06 pm
  8. Nancy Freiling says:

    Thanks for posting this. I had to make 5 gallons of tea for my church and I did not know where to begin. I did not have cold brew tea bags so I just boiled a big pan of water and steeped enough tea bags for 5 gals. It worked out fine. Thanks.

    Comment posted May 24th, 2009 at 6:34 am
  9. Square Zero Blog Archive Five Gallons of Iced Tea | Green Tea Fat Burner says:

    […] Square Zero Blog Archive Five Gallons of Iced Tea Posted by root 3 hours ago (http://squarezero.org) Iced tea brewing i am probably one of the few non restaurateurs who needs to know how to make five gallons of oh man i tried lipton green tea and it was horrendous comment posted july 18th 2008 at 10 06 pm nancy freiling says square zero is powered by wor Discuss  |  Bury |  News | Square Zero Blog Archive Five Gallons of Iced Tea […]

    Comment posted June 7th, 2009 at 9:11 pm
  10. Susan says:

    Thanks. Combined several of your ideas for my five gallons of iced tea. Used a clean 5-gallon water bottle. Used Luzianne brand tea bags made for iced tea. Boiled a gallon of water in wide pot. Dropped metal wire mesh colander filled with 45 tea bags. Brewed 4 minutes, removed colander, poured hot concentrated tea into 5-gal bottle using a funnel. Added rest of cold water. Turned out just right. Did not sweeten batch.

    Comment posted November 6th, 2009 at 6:08 pm
  11. Sally says:

    Interesting conversation about tea brewing. I just had to add my

    two cents worth since I am a serious “tea-aholic”. I drink mine

    very sweet and have a glass at hand all day! This is how I make

    my tea…..which everyone loves, by the way.

    I use only Tetley. Boil a quart of water. Put 1 3/4 cups sugar in

    The teapot, pour water over it and stir until dissolved. Add tea

    bags and steep for no less than five minutes. Pour into pitcher

    with chilled water and serve with slice of lemon. Also have recipe

    for tea syrup which makes about 16 gallons of tea.

    3 qt. boiling water

    7 cups sugar

    16 tea bags

    Bring water to a boil, add sugar and dissolve. Add tea bags, cover

    And steep 10 minutes. Pour in a gallon jug. When ready to use:

    1 cup syrup to four cups of water. I use 4 cups of syrup for

    1 gallon of water. This is great when you have guests for weekend

    and don’t want to stop to make a pitcher of tea from scratch.

    Comment posted May 7th, 2015 at 8:54 pm