orange iced tea in glass

This refreshing homemade iced tea has a real kick from muddled jalapeño and a gentle sweetness from freshly squeezed orange juice. This is the perfect healthy non-alcoholic cocktail for a long afternoon of summer sipping: simple to make, and totally satisfying. If you’re looking for easy summer drinks, look no further!

For almost a year now, I have been in various stages of reevaluating my relationship with alcohol. I had been noticing that even having just a couple of drinks on a Friday and Saturday night (having already ditched midweek drinking a while back) was causing inflammatory + gut issues that took until Wednesday to clear. I chalk it up to age, mostly…and the fact that my somewhat delicate gut and my generally super healthy habits have just made me a bit more sensitive to its effects.

So last July, I decided to try and ditch it entirely. Call it Sober Curious, if you will. A really nice glass of wine is one of my favourite things, so I didn’t take the decision lightly. But I was super surprised at how easy it was. In fact, it was so easy, that what worried me is whether I would ever drink again. What celebratory thing could I do on vacation? On my birthday? Funny, isn’t it?

In the end, I decided that I would be a ‘special occasion drinker’ only. Vacation. My birthday. A few days around Christmas. And then this year, a vacation in two wine producing countries turned into quarantine turned into….a gut that is pretty angry with me and enough inflammation to swell my face for the first half of the day and make my cheeks rosacea-pink again.

How to Make Iced Tea with Tea Bags

It’s time to move on to habits that better support me…so now I need to start stockpiling yummy non-alcoholic drinks that aren’t just full of sugar. Homemade iced tea is a big part of that for me. It couldn’t be simpler to make iced tea from whatever tea bags you have lying around. Often, I’ll just make a simple pitcher of some unsweetened herbal tea like hibiscus or rooibos but I also like having a fancier version on hand from time to time.

  • Use 1 tea bag (or 1 teaspoon of loose leaf tea) for every cup of liquid you will make. Making 6 cups? You’ll need 6 tea bags. You can make it stronger if you want with 1-2 extra but don’t go lighter than a 1:1 ratio.
  • Bring half the water to boil on the stove. If you’re making 6 cups, boil 3 cups.
  • Steep the tea bags in the boiled water for 15-20 minutes, which allows the water to cool…but also will give you the strong flavour you need to stand up to chilling.
  • Squeeze every last drop from the tea bags and then put the concentrated tea into a pitcher. Top with remaining water, in this case 3 cups.
  • You can leave it as is, flavour with herbs or fresh juices or sweeten with a bit of maple syrup or pure cane sugar.

Why Homemade Iced Tea is the Best

As a dietitian, I’m pretty much always going to say that homemade is healthier…but in the case of drinks, I really mean it! Store-bought drinks are either full of sugar or non-caloric sweeteners that aren’t that great either.

  • You get to choose the quality of the ingredients, like fairly traded tea and fresh juices instead of juice concentrates
  • You get to control the level of sugar involved. You can make totally unsweetened iced tea or lightly sweeten to enhance the flavour
  • You will save a ton of money over buying bottled drinks of the same quality

More Easy Summer Drinks

If you’re looking for more refreshing summer drinks – and have a big watermelon you need to use up – try my cooling Watermelon Mint Chia Fresca

orange iced tea in glass

Homemade Orange Jalapeño Iced Tea

This easy-to-make homemade iced tea is sweetened with fruit juice and comes with a kick! It's the perfect non-alcoholic drink to enjoy all summer long.
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  • 5 cups water, divided
  • 2 cups not-from-concentrate orange juice, or freshly squeeze, about 6 oranges
  • 1 medium navel orange
  • 1-2 fresh jalepenos
  • ½ fresh lime
  • 6 bags good quality black tea, or 6 teaspoons loose leaf tea
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup, optional, to enhance flavours


  • Bring 3 cups of water to boil in a medium pot. Remove from heat.
  • Meanwhile, slice orange in half. Take one half and slice it. Cut the other half into four chunks. Slice a tiny piece of flesh off the jalepeno and taste it. If it is mild, chop the whole jalepeno into 3-4 pieces. If it is quite spicy, remove half or all the seeds before chopping.
  • Place chunks of orange and jalepeno into the boiled water along with the lime half. Carefully muddle them in the bottom of the pot and add the tea bags. Steep for 15-20 minutes, squeeze tea bags out completely and compost them.
  • Strain the tea concentrate into the pitcher and add the remaining 2 cups water and 2 cups orange juice. Stir and taste. If you like, add maple syrup. Drop in the orange slices and a few slices of jalepeno if it isn't spicy enough – but keep in mind that the tea will get spicier the longer the jalepeno sits!
  • Store in refrigerator for 3-4 days and enjoy over ice.