Over the last couple of years, cold brewing gained lots of attention from both tea drinkers and scientists. What was once considered the ultimate brewing method to extract the most nutrients and thus provide better health benefits is now being replaced by new and exciting findings. As it turns out, cold brewing may provide even better benefits than hot brewing – but not for all tea types. Green tea is one of them. And what about the flavour? We tested both brewing methods to see how they compare in terms of flavour and colour – find out what's the difference is in this cold brew tea vs hot brew tea test.
Get your tea ready and let's dive in!
Health Benefits of Tea
One of the main reasons green tea gained so much popularity is the high amount of EGCG. EGCG is a catechin linked to many health benefits. Teas that are less oxidised will have higher levels of this catechin, and green tea is one of them.
Both hot and cold brews can provide antioxidants and boost the immune system and provide an energy boost. However, specific health benefits can vary depending on the type of tea and the brewing method used.
What's super interesting is that there are many studies on the right water temperature and steeping time for hot brewing to extract the most polyphenols and caffeine, and they all showed the same results – the higher the water temperature, the better.
It was until recently that hot brewing seemed like the best brewing methods for making green tea.
But recent studies showed that cold brewed green tea may actually provide better antioxidant properties and have less caffeine at the same time (1).
Hot Brewing Method
Hot brewing method is one of the most popular ways to make tea. Although hot brewing is simple, it requires a bit more patience and the right water temperature. Don't use boiling water to make green tea because it will get bitter.
The right temperature for hot brewing green tea is usually between 75 to 85 degrees Celsius, depending on the tea type. Some teas, like gyokuro, require even lower temperature – from 45 to 65 degrees Celsius.
Cold Brewing Method
Cold brewing is steeping tea leaves in cold water for at least 2 hours in the fridge, preferably overnight. Different tea types will require different steeping time. Cold brewing is a fast and easy method that offers a very refreshing flavour with zero bitterness. Besides, tea brewed this way will contain less caffeine than hot brewed tea.
How Was Tea Prepared for This Test?
To determine which brewing method gives a better tasting tea, we did a taste and colour test that involved brewing loose leaf flavoured green tea – the type that's commonly used for making a cold brew tea.
- 2 heaped teaspoon per 600 ml of water for cold brewing
- 1 teaspoon per 200 ml of water for hot brewing
Cold brewed tea was steeped for 12 hours in the fridge and hot brewed for only 1 minute at 80 degrees Celsius.
Comparison of Hot and Cold Brew Tea
So, what is the difference?
Without even trying the tea, you can see how different the colour is. 12-hour cold steeping gives a much lighter tea than 1-minute hot steeping.
You may already know that the darker the colour, the stronger the green tea will be. A great example of this is a comparison between popular gunpowder green tea that has a deeper yellow colour and lighter Dragon Well. The first one will usually be stronger and sometimes astringent, while the other one is much lighter and sweeter.
Then, there's the flavour. Cold brewed tea is very light, fresh and sweet. It has more intense green notes than a hot brewed one. Hot brewed tea, on the other hand, is less fresh but more mellow and sweeter (especially since it's a flavoured tea). Neither is bitter, but that's because the steeping time was 1 minute for hot and 12 hours for cold tea.
|COLD BREW TEA
|HOT BREW TEA
|– Bright yellow colour
– Easy to drink from large glasses
– Doesn't need any condiments
– Takes 2+ hours to steep
– Great for tea drinkers that are not fond of strong flavours
– Great for tea drinkers that are just starting to drink green tea
– Perfect alternative to water
|– Dark yellow colour
– More complex
– Better for slow sipping from a cup
– Can add a sweetener
– Takes 1 minute to steep
– Great for tea drinkers that want to enjoy complex flavours
– Great for tea drinkers that love exploring green tea
Cold Brew vs Hot Brew, Which One is Better?
If you want to sip tea throughout the day and enjoy cold, and generally prefer unsweetened drinks, cold brewing is a wonderful option. It's very refreshing, not overpowering and light.
But, if you like stronger taste or you're looking for more flavour and caffeine, then hot brewing is a way to go. To explore complex flavours of pure, very high quality green tea hot brewing is actually a must – including re-steeping.
Tips For Brewing the Perfect Cup of Tea
- Use filtered water: The quality of the water you use can significantly affect the taste of your tea. Filtered water with neutral taste is the best choice for both hot and cold brewing.
- Use the correct temperature: The temperature at which you steep your tea can also affect the taste. When making green tea, keep it at 75-85 degrees Celsius. When making cold brewed tea, use cold or lukewarm water.
- Steep for the right amount of time: Steeping for too long can give a bitter taste, while not steeping long enough can give a weak flavour. Cold brew green tea for at least 2 hours, but no longer than 24. When making hot tea, keep the steeping time at up to 3 minutes. However, 1 minute should be enough to get the right flavour.
- Add more flavour: If you prefer a sweeter taste, hot brewing may be a better option. Sweeteners will balance out any astringency. Cold brewed tea is usually much lighter and doesn't need any sweeteners. For both methods, you can add fresh fruits and even vegetables.
- Store your tea properly: To keep your tea fresh and flavourful, store it in an airtight container away from light, moisture, and heat. Stale tea will never have a good flavour. However, if your tea doesn't taste as nice when you hot brew it, try cold brewing because cold brewing results in a completely different flavour. You may discover you like it after all!
Cold Brew Tea vs Hot Brew Tea Recap
Both hot and cold brew tea have unique advantages when it comes to taste and health benefits.
While hot tea offers bold flavour, cold brew tea may be a wonderful choice for daily drinking.
If you're looking for a healthier option, then cold brew tea may be a winner. However, preference plays a significant role, so it's essential to experiment and find what suits you the best.
Remember, the quality of water, temperature, and steeping time are essential factors in determining the taste and health benefits of your tea.