How can you prevent home made iced tea from clouding up?

  • Posted by: uws80
  • June 24, 2011


Laura J. April 1, 2020
Use distilled water. Clear tea every time.
Diana B. May 22, 2019
I posed this question to Harney & Sons, which is the company I buy my tea from and got a very informative reply. Courtney there said, "the sediment isn't a result of how you're preparing the tea, but of the tea itself. Some types of tea are very high in soluble solids, which are dissolved when the tea is hot but precipitate out once it is chilled, giving the tea a cloudy look. Tea from Assam is particularly high in soluble solids, whereas Chinese Keemun teas are lower in them and tend to stay clear when chilled."

Turns out the decaf tea I buy from them is Indian, hence the sediment and occasional cloudiness.
ALexander M. July 6, 2019
no, sorry it isnt that easy...I once bought the worlds most expemnsive teas just to see if it had to do with the quality of the trea. It didnt. In fact some opf the best damn iced teas ive had come from places like mcdonalds because of their industrial machines. It has to do with the process and other complicated things - as i explained to Jonathon, a fellow nutjob like me, down below.
James T. October 1, 2019
If the tea turns murky in the refrigerator, add a cup of boiling water to one quart of tea -- it should clear up the cloudiness.
as stated in:
"The Secret to Making Clear Iced Tea"
James T. October 2, 2019
taking this back. I should have tried it first. didn't work for me!
nance July 23, 2017
My mother made iced tea for every single meal as I was growing up. We never, ever had a glass of cloudy iced tea. Our water was hard tap water. Here is how she made her tea.

Put ten tea bags in an enamel saucepan full of tap water. Bring to a rolling boil; boil for 5-10 minutes. Fill a gallon pitcher of ice cubes. If you desire sweetened tea, add your sugar now; ditto with lemon. Pour the boiling tea over the ice cubes, straining out the tea bags. Fill the pitcher the rest of the way with cold water, stirring vigorously. Serve or store in refrigerator 24-48 hours.
Bj G. July 23, 2017
You cannot with a Mr Coffee iced tea maker. I just pitched two of Them! 😄
DeborahBetty June 2, 2017
I add 1/8 teaspoon of baking soda to tea while brewing. Perfectly clear iced tea.
Jonathan September 21, 2015
Im back. like I said I've used tap water spring water bottled water But I just went and bought some double osmosis filtered water. and I've made two gallons so far with two different brands and I've gotten beautiful clear tea with that gorgeous reddish tint. I have got to say that it's entirely the water. Even if you use bottled water it may be sourced in the same region as your tap water and this would have many of the same minerals. I just have to believe that hard water or minerals absolutely affects the Tea. I even stirred and squeeze the bag out which your not supposed to do and even cooled it down very quickly and it never got cloudy or bitter. It even tasted much much better. so yes different levels or types of minerals effects it differently depending on what Community or region you are in.
Jane N. October 11, 2015
Hi Jonathan,
May I ask where did you get double reverse osmosis filtered water? I bought distilled water from a local supermarket and measured the water hardness. It was 2 ppm. And the tea is still cloudy like mud. I always brew my tea super strong, almost double 4 teaspoons per 8 oz water with loose tea leaves.
Tena N. September 21, 2015
I work as a Dining Room Coordinator, I make 1 1/2 + gallons of iced tea a week, I brew it through a drip system Bunn machine & cool it in the walk in frig. I add lots of ice to delete it, today is the first day it came out cloudy, only because I cooled it down too fast with lots of ice, now will my customers notice, probably not, as long as it tastes good & not bitter, (boiling tea makes it bitter), I will go back to my usual way of cooling it down, by just placing the container in the walk-in:-)
Jonathan September 18, 2015
Ok. I'm calling BS on all the advise I've read to keep brewed black tea from clouding and I might add...extremely weak tasting. I am super frustrated. Ive Tried tap & filtered. All kinds of brands. ALWAYS let it cool down on its own. Tried the baking soda. Always cloudy. McDonalds & BK always put their tanks out almost hot and when I put ice on it, it still doesnt cloud. So the whole thing of chilling it too fast is false according to those examples. Sorry for attitude, I'm frustrated. Ok. I boil about 4 cups of water with sugar. Turn off heat, put gallon size bag or 4 qt bags, let steep for about 5 min. By this time its already cloudy...always. Pull bags out and let cool to room temp, pour in pitcher and fill up rest of way with room temp water. Boomyow. Cloudy & very weak
chickJoyhnosn May 22, 2019
i realize this is 4 years from your post. If you are still among the living, I am glad i finally found a fellow Iced tea sufferer. I went through your hell for years too. No one even "gets" what I mean. I once spoke to a seemingly frustrated ice tea machine engineer and he said it had to do with the circumference of the basket, and temperature of the water. But i dont think he was right. I was so frustrated that mcDonalds made a fantastic tea and I couldnt do so even when i bought the most expensive whole teas on earth. I went so far as to buy an actual BUNN machine AND a fancy restaurant grade water filtration system. Still NOT the same as mcdonalds and other restaurants. Is a fricken mystery man. Just accept the gods like to play with you as if you were a mouse on a wheel. Thats what conclusion I came to after a decade of trying. I once DID make a fantastic batch of tea, but it was so unexpected that I could ever do so, I didnt even remember the system i used to get there. not sure if i room temp steeped it or combination or threw over ice immediately, etc. In the meantime so you dont off yourself, i have come to accept the Cooks illustrated method of brewing double the tea bags at room temperature overnight. Apparently if you home brew over 100 degrees, it will cloud up in the fridge. They did extensive tests on it. However, this of course leaves the fricken mystery of why mcdonalds iced tea NEVER fricken cloudies up (which we both know affects the flavor nomatter what any peasant says!!) . But whatever. if i could prevent jumping off a cliff with the cooks illustrated way- even if its less than satisfying since there is no cool machine to use- then i assume you can too. unless you are even loonier than me, and thats almost impossible.
chickJoyhnosn May 22, 2019
btw what level of hell is it what nomatter how many people tell you how perfect their tea comes out, that they dont have the standards you have and yet that standard is bourne by....MCDONALDS?? of all places? hahahah one of lifes many pain in the ass mysteries. I too have yet fto find a system like mcdonalds (and some restaurants) that makes a crisper more delicious brew i could swill all day long.
Tara L. August 21, 2019
There’s a newer simple solution now :) Lipton sells COLD BREW TEA packets .. if doesn’t get all weird or cloudy either !! It last longer than regular tea bags in my opinion .. hot tea really needs cooled down .. if I pour ice on it it can still get cloudy .. and just that thick look tastes weird to me lol but the Lipton cold brew tea is the way to go now .. I still brew in hot water .. I’ve never tried cold water with these .. again I love it
Laura J. April 1, 2020
The trick is to use distilled water to make your tea. I buy it by the gallon. Clear tea every time. I even use the cold brew bags now.
Jan W. July 30, 2015
I brew tea in a carafe or pitcher w/lid in the fridge. No boiling required, and no risk of being held at a temperature that would allow pathogens to propagate. All you have to do is put your loose tea (in an infuser) or tea bags in the carafe (approximately 4 bags for typical , pour in your cold filtered water until its almost full but leaving a bit of space for sweetener/lemon juice if desired, cover and let it steep on its own for 6-12 hours. It brews itself, and no ice to dilute your tea. You can even reuse the loose tea/bags again to make another pitcher, but it will take a little longer the second time around.
Jan W. July 30, 2015
Also, to keep this relevant to the OP's question, I read that the main reason brewed tea clouds up is because the rapid drop in temperature causes the dissolved tannins to come out of solution very quickly and form a cloudy precipitate. Some people who use hot water let the tea cool to room temperature, and then place in a not so cold part of the fridge so it can chill at a slower pace. Refrigerator tea, however, avoids this problem altogether. Fewer tannins release from the tea leaves in cold brewing, so not only will it not become cloudy, but it will also have a less astringent flavor (this also depends on the variety of tea you use, because some types of tea will have more tannins than others, and I am not aware of a list that measures various brands/varieties of tea for this. Just know that most every day black English breakfast teas (PG Tips, Twinings, etc.) do a fine job.
boulangere July 29, 2015
This was an interesting conversation on The Splendid Table on the subject of "sun tea" and why it is not a good idea. Think bacteria.
Susan W. July 29, 2015
I make cold brew tea for sweet tea in the summer. I put the loose Assam tea and water into a big glass jar and let it sit on the counter overnight. I strain it into a pitcher the next morning. It's not cloudy at all. It's worth a try.
susan July 29, 2015
I tried putting pitcher w/tea bags and tap water in the sun a couple hours then into fridg and it works. No more cloudy tea!! Why? I don't know! But I'm glad. I tried adding boiling water trick and it works too. So, in winter I'll use boiling water trick.
Sam1148 June 24, 2011
I seem to be mentioning baking soda a lot recently.
But quite a few southern tea-recipes call for a pinch (1/8tsp) of baking soda.

It does a couple of softens out the tannins, and it binds up minerals in the water if you have have hard water which make the tea cloudy.
Diana B. July 31, 2015
Thank you for that idea! I use a Mr. Coffee iced tea maker, which essentially makes hot tea and drips it over a pitcher of ice, so the other suggestions here wouldn't work for me.
wssmom June 24, 2011
The boiling water should help.
uws80 June 24, 2011
Thanks, let me know what success you've had. I don't add ice and let my tea cool before refridgerating, to no avail; I'll try fussing with the water. have been using Lyons and PG Tips.

Voted the Best Reply!

SKK June 24, 2011
Really glad you asked this, because I have been having the same problem and this is what I found.

Secrets To Making Clear Tea

When tea steeps, tannins (the natural compounds that color tea leaves) are released into the boiling water. The heat helps dissolve them, and the brew is clear enough to see through. Refrigeration can cause tannins to separate out again, turning the tea murky. Generally, higher-quality tea contains more tannins (because it is richer in solids) and is more likely to become cloudy.

Hard water can also make your iced tea cloudy. Also the minerals in your water could be causing the cloudiness. Try using bottled or filtered water and let the tea stand at room temperature for an hour after steeping.

Do not use cold water (use room temperature water).

Do not add ice to hot tea, only add the ice cubes to your drinking glass and then pour the tea over the ice cubes.

Do not put it straight into the refrigerator after it's made. Let it cool at room temperature first. THEN put it in the fridge. Cooling too fast makes the tannin settle out, causing cloudy tea.

If the tea turns murky in the refrigerator, add a cup of boiling water to one quart of tea - it should clear up the cloudiness. Remember, it will also dilute the tea, so add less ice.
David July 22, 2015
I read four different articles on this topic an this one was by far the most helpful and informative on the topic. Thank you
Audrey J. May 16, 2016
I have been making brewed ice tea for years and I use soft water. The only time I have cloudy tea is when my softener hasn't run recently. No need to slowly cool, can pour the boiling water a place directly in the fridge. I am now living in a place without a water softener and am looking for a solution.
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