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How to Make DIY Cold Brew Tea Bags

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One of the things that finally helped me kick my soda habit was learning to always keep a pitcher of iced tea of varying types and flavors in my refrigerator.

Rather than substituting my soda habit with juices and lemonades, I started experimenting with cold-brewing tea.

The downside was that brewing 8 tea bags at a time (the amount of standard tea bags needed to brew 2 quarts) made my tea habit expensive! Over time, I worked out this method to create cheap family size tea bags that don’t require hot water to brew.

Iced teas and iced herbal teas

Fact: ALL teas can be cold brewed.

Though marketing would have you believe that you have to pay more for teas that can be cold brewed, all teas can be brewed in cold water, if allowed to sit for about 6-8 hours. A pitcher of cold water placed in the refrigerator with tea bags at night is fully brewed by morning. Additionally, cold brewing positively affects the flavor of most teas! Hot water brings out the bitter tannins in tea, especially green tea, so teas brewed in cold water have less tannins. Additionally, cold-brewed teas are lower in caffeine and better for you than hot-water brewed counterparts- due to being more efficient at removing free radicals from your body, according to a study published in 2008 in the journal “LWT — Food Science and Technology.”

How to Make Family Size Tea Bags:

  Making your own tea bags, for hot or cold brewing, is easy! Though it involves a few steps, it’s very simple- and though it looks like one of those things that might fall into the category of “Why bother?!” the process is quick and saves an impressive amount of money. I experimented with a half dozen or so methods (brewing loose and straining, brewing in homemade cloth tea bags, various infusers, brewing in stitched paper tea bags, folding different ways, etc etc) and this method is by far the fastest and easiest and produces the highest quality tea.

How Much Money Can you Save with DIY Tea Bags?

  Making your own tea bags significantly cuts costs. It’s about 50% cheaper to make tea with homemade tea bags than with prepackaged tea bags, and it’s about 80% less expensive than soda! (and my calculations were made comparing organic tea. Tea is always on my “always buy organic” list, because the part of the plant we soak for tea is the same part of the plant pesticides are applied to)

 Each coffee filter costs around 4¢ (less if you purchase in bulk) and my favoiret tea, a 1 lb bag of Organic Gunpowder(**see note below) Green Tea (which makes about 25 two-quart sized tea bags) costs $9.99. 9.99 / 25 = 40¢.

40¢ + 4¢ coffee filter = A cost of 44¢ for each two-quart pitcher of tea. If you were to make the same amount of iced tea by using the necessary number of tea bags (generally, 8) of a non-organic value-brand tea, the cost per pitcher jumps to 80¢ per pitcher.

The savings of tea made with homemade tea bags compared to pre-brewed teas are even more dramatic.

(** “Gunpowder” refers to the leaves, not a flavor. Gunpowder green tea features leaves rolled into tiny balls- this texture requires large pieces of leaves, rather than the tiny shreds of tea typically sold in packaged tea bags, so gunpowder green tea will almost always be a better quality than any tea in tea bags)

DIY Tutorial: How to Make Large Homemade Iced Tea Bags

Gather your supplies: You’ll need:

  • Loose Leaf Tea
  • Standard Cone Coffee Filters, No. 4
  • A stapler
  • small measuring cup or tablespoon.
  • If you are making multiple varieties of tea bags in advance, you might want to use a Food Doodler food-coloring based marker for labeling tea bags.

supplies needed for homemade tea bags

DIY Tutorial: How to Make Large Homemade Iced Tea Bag

Total Time: 10 minutes

Scoop loose tea into a coffee filter

scoop tea into paper homemade tea bag

Scoop tea nto filder: For a tea bag large enough to brew a 2-quart pitcher, add 1/8th cup of tea leaves for green or black tea, or 1/4 cup for herbal teas. (It’s not an exact science, so if you don’t have a 1/8th cup measuring cup, a half-filled 1/4 cup measuring cup should suffice.)

Fold Filter

fold the tea bag

Fold down two corners of the filter- “dog ear style,” this will prevent exposed gaps where tea leaves could spill into your tea.

Fold the top of the tea bag over

told the top of the bag down, over the previous folds

A final fold at the top of the tea bag/coffee filter will hold the two dog-ear folds in place permanently

Secure Fold with Staple or Stitches

secure the tea bag closed

Add 1-2 staples to hold the folded tea bag closed during brewing. If you’re extra handy and plan to make a batch of homemade tea bags to stock your pantry or give away as gifts, run the folded tea bags through a sewing machine threaded with unbleached cotton thread.

Label and Store

Store in an airtight bag or container to maintain freshness.     LABELING: After giving up on homemade strings and tags, I now use an Edible Ink Marker to label my tea bags. Although they write just like any marker, the dye in food-coloring-based markers is edible and will dissolve into your tea during brewing.

Estimated Cost: 0.40 USD

Supply:

  • Loose Leaf Tea
  • Standard Cone Coffee Filters, No. 4

Tools:

  • A stapler
  • small measuring cup or tablespoon.

Favorite Teas for Cold Brewing Iced Tea

My amazon subscribe and save shipment almost always includes tea. Here are a few of my absolute favorites:

Davidson’s Tea Bulk, Organic Gunpowder Green, 1-Pound Bag

Davidson’s Tea Bulk, Organic Herbal Cranberry Orange, 16-Ounce Bag

Davidson’s Tea Bulk, Organic Moroccan Green with Mint, 16-Ounce Bag

Left to right: Herbal Cranberry Orange Iced Tea, Tulsi Mango Peach Iced Tea, and Gunpowder Green tea with Berry Stevia

Cold Brewed Herbal Teas

FAQ’s

How do you make homemade tea bags?

In this tutorial, homemade tea bags are made using unbleached paper coffee filters. By using the the flat style of coffee filter rather than a pleated coffee filter, it’s easy to simply fold and either stitch, tie, or staple the top closed so that loose tea added to the coffee filter teabag doesn’t spill

What material is used to make homemade tea bags?

Homemade teabags can be made using a number of different materials. Any material that is food safe, porous (but fine enough to prevent loose leaves particles passing into the water that is being brewed) and easy to fold, gather, or bend can be used to make your own homemade teabags. My preference for DIY tea bags is paper coffee filters. Paper coffee filters are manufactured specifically to be safe and are designed for brewing fine particles in water.

Is it OK to leave tea bags in iced tea

Unlike brewing hot tea, it’s okay to leave tea bags in cold brewed tea for hours, overnight, or even a day or two! When cold brewing, tea leaves don’t go through the same chemical process as they do when brewed in hot water – so it’s difficult to over-steep tea. Using time, rather than heat, to draw flavor out of the tea leaves or herbs prevents oversteeping.

How many tea bags do I need to make a gallon of tea?

If you’ve made your own homemade tea bags, you may only need one teabag per gallon of finished tea. One benefit of making your own tea bags is that you can control the size of the tea bag – so rather than emptying a box of packaged tea while trying to make a large jug of iced tea- you can portion out your tea leaves into homemade teabags that are size just perfect for the pitcher or chocolate you like to use for making tea. Personally, I size my homemade teabags to be just right for a half-gallon jug – making it easy, quick, and inexpensive to make a large pitcher of cold-brewed iced tea.

What can I use instead of tea bags?

If you don’t have any commercially made teabags but you have tea or herbs you’d like to meet tea from, you can follow this is real to make your own teabags using unbleached paper coffee filters and staples. Homemade teabags can also be made using thin cotton muslin fabrics. Some people have successfully made teabags using folded or stitched paper towels, but because paper towels are manufactured under the same conditions as items designed to come in contact with food, I recommend avoiding homemade teabags meet with paper towels.

blog_hh_maketeabag54

Making your own tea bags to reduce plastic use


Even though teabags themselves should be one of the most compostable kitchen items, many manufacturers have switched from cloth or paper teabags to find plastic mesh. This plastic mesh and it’s extra fine perforations make it possible for manufacturers to use lower quality tea- made up mostly of particles and tiny bits rather than actual tea or herb leaves. Making your own tea bags using cloth or paper as the teabag and string, thread, or staples to close is a great way to reduce your plastic use while also boosting your consumption. You can make homemade teabags from material (such as clean 100% cotton rags made from sheets) you already have on hand, and ingredients you can grow in your garden or buy in bulk. An edible garden with fruit and herbs is a treasure trove for making your own infused water and teas using homemade teabags.

Cold Brew Iced Tea

Cold brew coffee is popular currently- but did you know you can make iced tea without hot water? Cold Brew iced tea takes about a day- or at least overnight- but is a simple way to always have tea on hand without having to boil water.

Just fill your pitcher with water, add tea bags as directed (or to taste) and let the tea steep 12-18 hours. I add regular white sugar to mine when I start the process. Although white sugar doesn’t dissolve quickly in cold water, after a day of sitting in cold water it’s usually ready to dissolve into the cold tea with just a bit of stirring.

This works great with every type of tea I’ve tried. We especially like combining 2 regular iced tea bags with 1 or 2 teabags of Celestial Seasonings Country Peach Passion Tea. Peach Passion makes amazing herbal caffeine-free peach iced tea alone, but mixed with regular iced tea tastes just like a copycat recipe of the Olive Garden’s Peach Tea, with a caffeinated leg-up on the plain herbal tea version.

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D.Frazier

Wednesday 11th of June 2014

Love this! I've been drinking lots of tea and am looking for a mint tea in a quart size bag. Good solution. Thanks!

Lindsayanne

Wednesday 11th of June 2014

Quart size bags are hard to find! What's your favorite mint tea? I like Davidson's Moroccan Green with Mint - but it's only got just a hint of mint.

Lauren

Tuesday 8th of April 2014

This is a brilliant idea! I've been an avid tea fan for many years, but I'm just now exploring the possibilities of cold brewing. I'm dying to give this a try with some loose leaf vanilla chai I picked up at an international market a few weeks ago.