In large stock pot, combine tea with the sugar, along with any optional flavouring ingredients you may be using.
Heat to almost boiling, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Continue to heat for 15-20 minutes – never allowing it to come to a boil.
Remove from heat, cover with sanitized pot lid.
Once mixture has cooled to room temperature, use a sanitized funnel to transfer cooled mixture to a sanitized 2 gallon fermenter.
Using sanitized equipment, take a gravity reading. Keep track of the number! (This is an optional step, but will allow you to calculate your final ABV %)
Sprinkle yeast into fermenter, cover with sanitized air lock. Let sit, undisturbed, overnight.
Within 48 hours, you should notice fermentation activity – bubbles in the airlock, carbonation and /or swirling in the hard iced tea must. This means you’re good to go!
Put the bucket somewhere cool (not cold!), and leave it alone for a month or so.
Using sanitized equipment, rack the clarified hard tea off the sediment, into 2 clean, freshly sanitized 1 gallon carboys. Cap with sanitized airlocks, leave it alone for another 2-3 months.
When you’ve let it clarify as much as you have patience for – with no more sediment being produced – you can move on to bottling:
For uncarbonated hard iced tea:
Using sanitized equipment, take a final gravity reading, then rack the hard iced tea into clean, sanitized beer bottles, and cap them. Allow to age for a month or so before drinking. (Like wine, the flavor improves with age!)
For naturally carbonated hard iced tea:
In a small pot, mix together 1 cup of water with 1 cup of sugar. Use a sanitized funnel to pour this into a sanitized large carboy.
Rack the hard iced teaover into this carboy, swirling it as you go. Bottle hard iced tea as described in the previous step. Allow to age at least a month or two – residual yeast will ferment the added sugar, carbonating the hard iced tea.
Alternatively, you can rack the hard iced tea (without the added sugar syrup!) into a keg and force carbonate it, if you have the set up for that. That’s what we did with our last batch, and blew through it pretty quick during the tornado clean up! Chilled hard iced tea is just what’s needed for that sort of thing, LOL!
Enjoy.. and start planning for next year’s batch(es)!