Homemade Citrus Iced Tea

close shot of a Turkish cay/shaped tea glass with orang/brown coloured fruit tea with ice cubes on top and oranges and glasses in the background.
Next time you have an abundance of citrus fruit, try my homemade citrus iced tea recipe.  So refreshing, hydrating & bliss on a warm day, this citrus ice tea packs a punch if citrus & bitter fruits is your thing!  You can of course add more sugar or use any fruit you have and use this recipe as a guide.  A perfect cold brew recipe for no food waste.

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Homemade Citrus Iced Tea Recipe

By Caro

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Why Make Citrus Iced Tea?

overhead shot of a chopping board with orange, leon and lime slices, stones and some fruit to the back with text.
  • Make Use Of Left-over Or Old Fruit
  • Control Your Sugar Content
  • No Artificial Sweeteners, Additives, Flavourings, Colourings Or Preservatives
  • No Food Waste At All
  • Very refreshing & Ice-cold!!
  • Customizable
  • Homemade Is Always Best!

Photo of 12 fruits with skin off tops and tails - ornages, lemons & limes.

Ingredients Needed

You can use any citrus fruit (or any fruit really), to make a refreshing fruit ice tea. Today I am showing you how to make using a lot of oranges, limes, lemons, a pink grapefruit and a Cantaloupe melon. I only used the grapefruit and melon because they were well past their best.

  • Oranges
  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Other Citrus Fruit You Have
  • Tea Bags (any favourites)
  • Sugar (granulated)
  • Boiled Water
  • Spices & Vanilla Extract (optional)

*Note – any variety of oranges/lemons/limes can be used. Same for the tea bags.

Close shot of a tall slim glass with persperation, and filled with brown/orange coloured fruit ice tea with ice cubes, and oranges and glassed to the background.

How My Iced Tea Tastes & Feels

This citrus iced tea recipe is bitter by nature, due to the high bitter notes from citrus and in particular from the lemons, limes & pink grapefruit. Sugar is added when the fruit is cooking and later to taste, but if you use more oranges to the other more ‘bitter’ fruits mentioned, your iced tea should naturally be a bit sweeter. You can also opt for adding real honey at the very last taste test.

This fruit iced tea is not going to go down quite like what you buy at the store in bottles. I press the cooked fruit and juice really well through a sieve, so you will be tasting and feeling the pulp & fibrous tissue with every sip. And in the photos you can see the thickness of the tea.

Front angled photo of whisky glass with orange/brown citrus tea and extra large round ice cube, with oranges and 2 different sized glasses to the background.

You can of course add a lot more ice if you want it a thinner consistency and add some more flavour to your taste.

Using Different Fruits Or Amounts

To use different fruits or amounts of fruits compared to this recipe, see the notes in the Recipe Card, for ratios of sugar to water.

Not Just For Summer

You can make this iced tea any time of the year of course, but in colder months, you can make in the same way, but omit the ice and add some of your favourite warming winter spices. Like more ginger, cardamom, mixed spice (pumpkin spice) etc. Any spices you put in mulled wine would work too.

The Process In Detail

For an abbreviated version of the recipe, without photos, ingredient amounts and saving/printing abilities, jump to the Recipe Card further down. (Click below to jump to that).

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4 photo collage of trimming oranges, lemons and limes, slicing and removing seeds - photo 1.

1.Begin by seeing what fruit you have had for a while and not used. The oranges, limes, lemons, pink grapefruit and melon, I had bought weeks before, if not longer. You will need quite a lot of it. (See my Recipe Card below, for a base line on fruit to sugar to water).

2. Trim off any ends or bad bits in the peel. You don’t need to remove all the peel. See Photo 1 where I also topped and tailed the fruits to make slicing easier.

3. Slice the fruits and be sure to remove any stones.

2 photo collage of sliced oranges, lemons and limes and tea bags, and large cooking pot with water - photo 2.

4. Next add the tea bags to a large pot with the boiled water. (I used a variety of different tea bags – Red Bush (Rooibos), Early Grey, cardamom Chai and Coconut Chai, but you can use your favourite.

Overhead close shot of large black cooking pot full of slices of lemons, oranges and limes in water - photo 3.

5. Next add the sliced fruits to the boiling water & tea bags and mix together.

6. Add in the first batch of the sugar, (Sugar No.1 – 134g, 4 ⅔  oz,  ⅔ cup) and mix through.

7. Place on the stove on medium to high heat and let the mixture come to a boil.

4 photo collage of boiling and foaming citrus fruit for ice tea, the resulting liquid on a spoon and removing tea bags - photo 4.

8. Let the mixture come to a rolling boil before adding in more sugar,  (Sugar No.2 – 67g, 2⅓ oz, ⅓ cup), and mix through. The mixture will be very foamy, see Photo 4. Let it continue to boil for about 15 minutes.

9. Reduce the heat to a low-medium setting and allow to simmer for about 30 – 45 minutes, or until the fruit slices are soft, and the fruit tea is now coloured (see Photo 4).

10. Remove from the heat, take out the tea bags & have a taste test of the liquid. If you want more sweetness, go ahead and add more sugar now while it is still warm and allow to dissolve.  I added all of Sugar No.3, (67g, 2⅓ oz, ⅓ cup).   For bitter citrus fruits you will need more sugar, but you could add honey now instead.

2 photo collage of adding spices to cooked citrus ice tea and in a glass over ic - photo 5.

11. Next add in the vanilla extract & some spices if you wish, that you like or complement the fruit you picked. I added cinnamon & ginger. Mix through and do another taste test till happy. And remember that once over ice, the flavour will be a little diluted.

12. Once happy, decant the fruit tea over a sieve, into a jug or some bottles or jars, with strong airtight lids. Be sure to push down on the fruit, so more juice goes through the sieve – get every last drop you can.

Panaramic photo shape of whisky glass with orange/brown citrus tea and extra large round ice cube, with oranges and 2 different sized glasses to the background.

13. Place the used fruit peel in a food recycling bag or use for compost and nothing has been wasted. Place the iced fruit tea in the fridge to chill and store there till ready to use. Make sure you have plenty ice and make some up before-hand and place in a food baggie, so you can make more.

14. Serve in any glass you like, but over plenty of ice and enjoy! Your own citrus ice tea – homemade, no waste, no artificial sugars, flavouring, additives or preservatives. Will keep stored in the fridge for 2 – 3 days.

More Spring/Summer Fruit Recipes

In the photos below are some more Spring or Summer recipes, again using fruit! (click photo to go to recipe)

Overhead shot of a white dinner table, with pink napkin, main bowl of red stewed rhubarb inc entre, with others to sides, and title air fryer stewed rhubarb, baking on a budget.

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Overhead shot of white table with blue white napkins, white flowers, tea cups with tea and large strawberry, raspberry & blueberry covered cream layer cake in centre.

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Please see the sharing options or even printing, at the right/bottom of your screen (bottom of your screen for mobiles, and down the right-hand side on computers). You can even pin this to your own Pinterest page. Alternatively, you can save, print or share this recipe, via the Recipe Card. You could also leave some feedback if you like (at very bottom of the page).

Abbreviated Recipe Card

Here is the Recipe Card, an abbreviated version of the recipe with no process photos. This can be shared, saved or printed (with/without pics & notes). Use the cool ‘Cook Mode’ function by toggling the button to the blue on-position, and the screen on your phone or tablet, will not go black if using to bake along.

close shot of a Turkish cay/shaped tea glass with orang/brown coloured fruit tea with ice cubes on top and oranges and glasses in the background.

Homemade Citrus Ice Tea

Next time you have an abundance of citrus fruit, try my homemade citrus ice tea recipe. So refreshing, hydrating & bliss on a warm day, this citrus ice tea packs a punch. Use this recipe as a guide & for using up old fruit, for no food waste.
Course Drinks
Cuisine American, Turkish
Keyword Citrus, Fruit, Summer, Tea
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 35 minutes
Servings 6 servings
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  • Large Cooking Pot
  • Knife
  • Chopping Board
  • Measuring Scales (optional)
  • Sieve
  • Bottles or Jars for storing
  • Measuring Spoons


  • 4 Limes (small – medium)*
  • 2 Lemons (small)
  • 7 Oranges (medium sized)
  • 1 Pink grapefruit (optional)
  • 1 Cantaloupe Melon (optional)
  • 8 Tea Bags (Any, I used 2 each of: Red Bush (Rooibos), Early Grey, cardamom Chai and Coconut Chai tea bags)
  • 2 Litres Boiled Water (2000 ml, 67⅔ fl oz, 10 cups approximately, to cover fruit)
  • 134 grams Granulated Sugar, divided into these 3 amounts* (4⅔ oz, ⅔ cup – Sugar No.1)
  • 66 grams Granulated Sugar (2⅓ oz, ⅓ cup, Sugar No.2)
  • 66 grams Granulated Sugar (2⅓ oz, ⅓ cup, Sugar No.3 ** to taste)
  • ½ – 1 tsp Cinnamon (optional and to taste)
  • ½ tsp Ginger (optional and to taste)
  • ½ tsp Vanilla Extract (optional, make your own Homemade Vanilla Extract)


Prepare The Fruits

  • Gather all the citrus fruits, including any with bad bits in the peel, and simply trim these off, before topping & tailing. Slice the fruits and remove any seeds.

Boiling & Simmering

  • Add the tea bagsand boiled water to a large cooking pot, before adding in first batch of sugar,(Sugar No.1 – 133g, 4 ⅔  oz, ⅔ cup)  . Mix to combine before adding inyour prepared fruit. Bring to a boil on a medium high to high heat,  and add in Sugar No.2 – 67g, 2⅓ oz, ⅓ cup.  Let come to a rolling boil, and boil for 15 minutes.  Reduce the heat, simmer for 30 – 45minutes, or until the fruit slices are soft. 

Sieving Off

  • Remove from heat, take out tea bags, and have a taste test. Add more sugar to taste and some spices if wished – Vanilla Extract, cinnamon & ginger. I used all of the remaining Sugar No.3 batch  (67g, 2⅓ oz, ⅓ cup), as well as cinnamon and Vanilla extract.  Sieve the citrus fruit tea into a jug or bottles/jars, pressing down on the fruit with a spoon to extract more juice. Discard the skins for recycling and place the fruit tea in airtight jars or bottle and into the fridge to chill.

Storing & Serving

  • When ready, serve over lots and lots of ice, so much so that the glass starts perspiring! Any glass you like – see tall thin Turkish glasses, Turkish tea glasses and smaller wider Whisky glasses – anything goes and also depends on size/shape ofice-cubes too.
    Close shot of a tall slim glass with persperation, and filled with brown/orange coloured fruit ice tea with ice cubes, and oranges and glassed to the background.
  • Store in jars or re-used bottles in fridge and keep some ice cubes in freezer and decant into bags and make plenty!



This is a guide only and you can use any fruit you have and in any quantities.  Just use this as a base line and at the end add more sugar to taste while still hot.  And remember the ice will water it down a little.
Recipe Yield – recipe as is, makes approximately 1500 – 1750ml (50¾ fl oz,  6 cups or 2) or 6 glasses.
Tea –  use any favourite tea bags you have.  I used 8 bags to about 1700g/60oz fruit & 2000ml, 67 fl oz, 10 cups of water.
*Fruits – use any fruits or combination.  As a guide, & by average weights, my medium oranges were about 105g (3¾ oz), small lemons/limes about 65g (2¼ oz), cantaloupe melon before cutting, 600g (21 oz), and pink grapefruit about 200g (7 oz).
**Using Different Fruits Or Quantities – any fruits or amounts can be used.  As a guide, 3 medium oranges is about 5 small lemons/limes.  The melon would equate to 4 medium sized oranges (after melon seeds removed). 
Water To Sugar Ratio – use a base line of about 2000 litres, (67 fl oz, 10 cups) of water. to 266g (9 oz, 1 cup) of sugar.
How Much Water To Use – if using a different amount of fruits, just use a big cooking pot, (big enough for your chosen fruit), add your prepared fruit & tea bag.  Then fill a large jug with boiled water, fill the pot (a few times if needed & taking note how many times you filled) and subtract however much water is still left in the jug, to work out how much water you used.  Use this amount against the water to sugar ratio above as a guide for how much sugar to add at the cooking stage. 
Spices – use any spices you like and also a little Vanilla Extract to bring out the flavours.  Learn how to make Homemade Vanilla Extract and save money in the long-run.
Other Fruit Recipes – try my stewed rhubarb recipe, that you can make in the air fryer, oven or stove top.  Eat with pastry cream (similar to custard but can be used for other baked goods), or make rhubarb stuffed cupcakes
Overhead close shot of small bowl of stewed rhubarb and pastry cream, with spoon showing contents.
Servings – 6 servings based on 250ml/8.5 fl oz/1 cup, which is enough over plenty of ice for standard glass size. 
Nutritional information based on 100ml/3.3 fl oz/less than 0.5 cup,  amounts as food industry standard.  Use this to calculate for each drink you serve.  I am not a qualified nutritionist and amounts are approximate, based on above amounts, and via information from website Whisk.com. 
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Serving: 100ml | Calories: 92.8kcal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 0.5g | Fat: 0.08g | Saturated Fat: 0.08g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.02g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.01g | Sodium: 0.45mg | Potassium: 91.9mg | Fiber: 1.4g | Sugar: 21.9g | Vitamin A: 30.5IU | Vitamin C: 26.8mg | Calcium: 22.1mg | Iron: 0.13mg

DIFFICULTY LEVEL: beginner, easy-peasy

Rating: 1 out of 5.

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Caro xx

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