In the summer, my boys drink a lot of iced tea. I've perfected making it in the coffeemaker, using a method their dad picked up. I'm fine with my boys having two or three glasses a day because I know what's in this iced tea.

I think using the coffeemaker to brew the tea is brilliant because it's always on my counter anyway. I used to have a machine that was made to brew iced tea. Every time I wanted to use it, I had to haul it out. It was an unnecessary burden. I've also boiled water on the stove and put tea bags into that to steep. That's the way it was done in my home growing up. Doing it that way is fine, but it creates an extra pot to wash.

Making my own iced tea instead of buying it also allows me to control the ingredients. You'll need a 3-quart pitcher to get the same results that I do. Here's how I do it.


  • 6 cups of cold water
  • 4 black tea bags (We use Lipton tea. My boys like the taste of Lipton more than other brands, and I like it because it's Rainforest Alliance-certified. You can use whichever black tea you want.)
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice


  1. Fill the coffeemaker water tank to the 6-cup mark with cold water.
  2. Put the tea bags right into the coffee pot (not into the filter area where I would normally put coffee).
  3. Turn the coffeemaker on and let the water run through.
  4. When it's finished running water through, turn the coffeemaker off.
  5. Allow the tea bags to steep for about 15 minutes, then take them out.
  6. Pour the warm, concentrated tea into a 3-quart pitcher.
  7. Add the sugar and stir until dissolved.
  8. Add lemon and stir.
  9. Fill the pitcher about 2/3 full of ice and then add water to top off. Stir.

This will make 12 8-cup servings that contain two teaspoons of sugar each, the equivalent of 8 grams. One teaspoon of sugar has 16 calories, so an 8-ounce glass of iced tea made this way has about 32 calories. Compare this to some of the pre-made teas on the market, and you'll see that this has less sugar and fewer calories. An 8-ounce serving of Arizona Lemon Tea has 90 calories and 24 grams of sugar (6 teaspoons).

The FDA has proposed that no more than 10 percent of calories come from added sugars. Sugary beverages are one of the quickest ways to have that sugar add up. Making your own iced tea and limiting the amount of sugar is one way to curb the amount of added sugar you and your family drinks each day.

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.