- What's the right water temperature
- How to choose the best teas for cold brewing
- Pros and cons of cold brewing
- Benefits compared to traditional hot brewing
And much more.
The best thing about this brewing method is that you can try it straight away. You don't need any special equipment, any special teas or even a water thermometer. You can make the best cold brewed tea with what you already have at home.
What is cold brewing?
Cold brewing is brewing tea in cold, rather than hot water. Cold brewing was invented centuries ago in Japan, and it was used for making coffee. Since then, it expended to tea and became enormously popular over the last decade. Today, there are even special tea blends intended for cold brewing that will allow you to have a cold brewed tea in a matter of minutes.
Another interesting brewing technique from Japan is ice brewing – used for pure, usually steamed green teas.
Unlike traditional hot brewing, cold brewing doesn't require a kettle or a stove – but it does require a fridge. Tea leaves or tea bags are usually steeped overnight in the fridge, which allows them enough time to release flavour and nutrients.
Do you need any cold brewing equipment?
No, you don't need any special equipment to make tea using this method. You can use a simple, clean jar or a jug, or even a regular cup. However, larger vessels are a slightly better option as it's easier to make more tea at once. Cold brewed tea will stay fresh for 24 hours (including steeping time, or slightly longer if you strain it).
However, always cover the teapot, jug or mason jar when cold brewing to prevent fridge odours to get into your tea. Next, glass or transparent vessels will help you see if your tea is ready, so they make a better option than non-transparent vessels.
You can use:
- Tea infuser bottle
- Glass teapot
- Large mason jar
- Glass pitcher with a strainer
- Glass jug without a strainer
Can any tea be cold brewed?
The second question you may have if you have never cold brewed tea before is can any tea be cold brewed and which type of tea is best? The good news is, almost all teas will be great for cold brewing.
The best types for cold brewing are green, white, oolong and black teas, but you can cold brew tisanes too. Red and green rooibos, mint, chamomile and fruit teas can all be prepared using this method. However, you will need different brewing time for different tea.
You can use both loose leaf tea and tea bags. Tea bags that usually offer a strong brew may be especially good for this method, as the tea will be lighter and fresher.
How to choose the best teas for cold brewing?
Some teas will be better than the others. Green tea is usually the best type of tea for cold brewing, followed by white, twisted oolong and black tea. Flavoured teas are especially delicious and refreshing when prepared in the fridge.
What makes green tea such a superb choice? One of the reasons is that it will release less caffeine and preserve catechins, which will make it healthy, refreshing, less bitter and flavourful.
This method is amazing for teas that you don't particularly enjoy hot, that are too bitter or too strong, or maybe even of a lower quality.
Best teas for cold brewing:
- Pure green tea
- Fruity green teas
- Pure black tea
- Fruity black tea
- Floral black tea
- Twisted leaf oolong tea
- Fruity flavoured white tea
Best tisanes for cold brewing:
- Yerba mate
- Red and green rooibos
- Chamomile tea
- Mint tea
- Honeybush tea
- Moringa tea
- Fruit teas
But the list doesn't stop here. You can try cold brewing any tea you want. However, keep in mind that especially tisanes may provide different benefits when prepared using cold or hot water.
Cold brew tea bags
Cold brew became so popular that many tea brands are now offering special cold brew tea bags. They may contain other ingredients and flavours and may be suitable for a super-fast brewing. You won't need to wait hours for tea leaves to infuse, you can make an instant cold brew tea in a matter of minutes. While delicious, cold brew tea bags are slightly different from regular cold brewing as they won't need hours to infuse. They are a wonderful option if you want to enjoy iced tea asap, and don't want to go through trouble of making an iced tea. Plus, they are just amazing for travelling – no worrying about the kettle, no mess, and super easy to transport and enjoy anywhere you want.
Check out some of these:
- Twinings cold water infusions
- Whittard cold brew teabags
- Tea pigs cold brew taster pack
- Mission tea hot or cold brew
- Chaiwallah Margate caffeine free cold brew teas
- Seein Korean cold brew teas
Is cold brew tea safe?
Yes, cold brew tea should be perfectly is safe to drink. Always use clean vessels and tea from reputable sources, and water that's filtered and safe to drink.
If the tea smells strange, mouldy or stale, don't use it. Flavoured teas blended with other ingredients are more likely to go bad past their shelf life than real pure teas.
Also, drink it within 24 hours and don't let the tea stand out in the sun. You will notice a significant different in flavour once the tea is not good for drinking anymore – it will become bitter, darker and heavier.
Pros and cons of cold brewing
Just like with any other methods, there are pros and cons to this method too.
|– Very easy
– Good for both loose tea and tea bags
– Lighter flavour
– Less caffeine
– Great for lower quality teas
– Great for flavoured teas
– You can add other ingredients such as fresh herbs and fruits
– Same amount of tea leaves as for hot brewing, or even less
– Potentially higher antioxidant properties
|– Takes time
– Some teas may never fully develop flavour, like rolled oolongs
– Flavour is less complex
– You shouldn't reheat it so you can only drink it cold
Is cold brewing the same as iced tea?
While both these drinks are served cold, they are different. Iced tea is usually made with a stronger tea base, and steeped in hot water, then served over ice. It's also mostly sweetened, and you can add fruits and citruses as a decoration and to infuse a bit more flavour. Cold brew tea is made without hot water, it's often served unsweetened and fruits and other ingredients are usually added to steep together with tea.
|COLD BREW TEA
|– Steeping takes at least 2 hours
– One teaspoon of tea leaves per cup of water
– Mostly unsweetened
– Lower in caffeine (for caffeinated teas)
– Light and less bitter
– No need for any special equipment except fridge
|– Ready within ten minutes
– Usually, 2 teaspoons of tea leaves per cup of water
– Mostly sweetened
– Higher in caffeine (for caffeinated teas)
– More complex and deeper flavour, can be bitter
– Need a teapot or some type of infuser/strainer, and a kettle
How to cold brew tea
Always choose good water for making any tea – cold or hot. Water will have a lot of impact on the flavour. Use either fresh bottled spring water or filtered tap water. It should have a neutral flavour and be neither too hard nor too soft.
For making cold brewed tea, use either lukewarm or cold water, but never hot or hot boiled water. The temperature will impact the flavour and nutrient profile. If you steep it first in boiling water, even if it's for a minute, it won't be a cold-brewed tea anymore.
Steep your tea in the fridge for at least 2 hours, preferably longer. Green tea and white tea will take less time than black or darker oolong tea. For the best results, steep it overnight, regardless of the type. Black or dark teas, and herbal teas such as red rooibos and chamomile may be the best when steeped longer.
Black tea, lighter herbal teas, oolong teas and rooibos teas may need at least 8 hours to infuse. However, since flavour preferences are always personal, try your tea after steeping it overnight and infuse longer if needed.
Straining the leaves
If you plan to drink the tea within 24 hours, there's no need to strain it. You can simply pour the tea into the glass using a regular strainer. You can even top it up with more cold water.
How much tea to use
Use 2 tablespoons of loose tea per one litre of water or at least 3-4 tea bags. If you are using special cold brew blends, follow the instructions instead, as these blends are crafted specifically for this type of brewing. Did you notice that's exactly how much you would use for making 4 cups of tea?
Do you need condiments?
You don't need any condiments for cold-brewed tea as it won't be bitter, and it will be much lighter than a regular cup of hot tea. If you still want to use a sweetener, add it to your glass, not to a teapot. You can add different fresh fruits or herbs and steep them together with tea leaves.
Benefits of cold brew tea
One of the reasons why cold brew is enjoying so much attention are the potential health benefits. Until recently, all studies suggested that to extract the most catechins, caffeine and other compounds, the hotter the water, the better.
However, recent studies showed that the truth may be more complicated. In fact, cold brewing proved to be a better choice than hot brewing if the catechins are what you are looking for, but for black tea, the values won't be much different (1). Besides, cold brewing will extract less caffeine, which makes it even more convenient for making tea for all-day sipping, especially in spring and summer.
However, as always in the world of tea, there are exceptions. One study showed that after 12 hours of cold brewing, semi-ball shaped oolong (dong ding) released more caffeine and 4 times more catechins than when hot brewed (2). This actually showed that rolled oolong tea, if you don't mind waiting for 12 hours and some extra caffeine, may be better cold than hot brewed. However, there's a “catch”. Study tested rolled oolong brewed for 4 minutes at 85 degrees Celsius, which may not be enough for leaves to fully unfurl.
Cold Brewing Recap
Cold brewing is the easiest way to make tea at home. You can experiment with literally any tea to find out which flavours you like the most. For the best results, always leave it overnight.
Need an extra idea? You know that tea you have but seem you just can't get to like? Try making it using this method – it will have a completely different flavour. Whichever Camellia sinensis tea you choose, it's likely it will have at least a slightly higher catechin content and lower caffeine content than hot tea, with some exceptions.
Once is for sure, if you need a lighter, refreshing tea with no bitterness, cold brewing is a no-fuss and must try method.
How to cold brew tea
- Teapot, jug or a jar
- 2 tablespoons of loose leaf tea
- Clean and dry your teapot/jug.
- Measure 2 tablespoons of tea leaves or take 4 tea bags and add them to a teapot.
- Add cold filtered tap water or bottled spring water.
- Add fresh herbs or washed and sliced fruits. (optional)
- Cover the lid.
- Let it steep in the fridge for at least 2 hours (green tea,white tea), 4 hours (black tea) or 8 hours (other tea types). For the best results, steep at least 8 hours for any type of tea.
- Pour into a glass and add sweetener if needed.