I want to boil tap water and use tea bags but since summer is coming I want to make it cold. Is it safe if I let it to get to room temperature and then put it in the fridge?

  • I'm actually a huge fan of cold brewed tea. I make it with a takeya pitcher and typically store it sideways in the fridge until it's ready. Teabag ratio depends on whether I want tea or tea-flavored water (which is also a nice change from herb/fruit-infused waters). I wonder if it would work for you: drinks.seriouseats.com/2012/07/… May 16, 2014 at 0:42

2 Answers 2


Please see Food Safety News: Did You Know Iced Tea Safety which gives the very strict FDA guidelines for iced tea as:

  • Iced tea sould be brewed at 195 F for 3-5 minutes.
  • Iced tea should be stored for no longer than 8 hours.
  • The tea brewer, storage dispenser, and faucet should be cleaned daily.

while pointing out that "Tea is a beverage with little history of disease transmission."

Applying some common sense, assuming that you:

  • Keep all of your tea equipment "impeccably clean" as Julia Child used to say
  • Do not leave it very long at room temperature
  • Refrigerate it thereafter

given that tea does not have a huge number of nutrients to encourage pathogen growth, the risk should be minimal, although non-zero.

You must assess your own tolerance for risk, but this is not an activity that is inherently highly dangerous.

Finally, please note that modern refrigerators perform very well, and there is minimal heating of the other foods, even if you put a fairly large volume of tea in the refrigerator to cool. See: How effective are modern home refrigerators at keeping other foods cool when hot food is introduced to the space?

  • Wow, nice answer. One last thing: About the storage: should I use plastic bottles and seal them with the cap, or a glass jug (with minimal opening)? May 15, 2014 at 18:35
  • I think that is mostly a matter of personal preference.
    – SAJ14SAJ
    May 15, 2014 at 18:36
  • I really don't get the 8 hours point - if I put it in closed pitcher in the fridge - why would it be different than a bottle of water? I've read the provided link, but it still sounds weird to me. Apr 28, 2018 at 19:41

From a food safety perspective the main question is whether you add sugar while it is hot, or after it is cold. Sugar will feed pathogens, so if it is sugared while hot you are better off chilling it quickly rather than letting it cool to room temperature, as it will take a long time to do so. While it cools any pathogens will have time to grow for a long time at optimal temperature.

From a taste perspective letting it cool to room temperature is a bad idea as it will lose freshness and flavor, chilling it as quick as you can will give you a better result. I've had good results using re-usable ice cubes although they don't last and take up space. My preferred method of rapid cooling is to put a metal pot plus a bunch of big spoons and stainless steel flatware into the freezer, letting them get nice and cold, than pouring the hot tea into the pot. The cold metal absorbs quite a bit of heat very quickly, then the tea can be poured into a storage container and put into the fridge. A quick rinse and the pot and flatware are ready to use again.

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