Step-By-Step Guide On How To Cold Brew Tea

  • Date: October 28, 2020

Cold brew tea is a real treat, the ideal drink for whenever you are craving for an easy and refreshing beverage.

If you want to brew some cold tea, you mustn’t be tempted to reach for your kettle! In fact, all you will need is cold or room temperature water and your favorite flavorings. You can use either tea bags or loose-leaf tea, depending on your preferences.

Ready to learn everything about the slow infusion process, which will give you the best cold brew tea? 

What is the difference between cold brew tea and regular tea?

Cold brew tea is made using the steeping time to extract the tea’s flavor instead of the heat. 

The primary difference between the two beverages can be found in the preparation process and time. When you make regular tea, you brew it in how water, which temperature varies based on the product you are using (for example, green tea usually requires higher temperatures than black teas).

When brewing cold tea, however, you use cool or room temperature water. Again, the water temperature needs to be different based on the type of tea you are preparing. In this case, brewing time plays a significant role, too. For example, white tea should be brewed for at least 6 hours, whereas green tea requires up to 9 hours. Since there is no hot water involved, the tea leaves are extracted slower, releasing a lighter and less bitter extract. 

Can Tea Bags Brew in Cold Water?

Unless stated otherwise on the packaging, tea bags can usually be brewed in cold water. However, without the aid of a hot liquid, the process will take longer. This is the reason why you need to wait up to a few hours before your cold brew tea is ready.

When brewing tea bags in cold water, you should always pay attention to your tea ingredients and nutrients. Certain chemicals in charge of the flavor may not be released in cold temperatures, making the resulting tea concentrate tasting dull or too bitter.

The quickest way to make cold brew tea with tea bags, without jeopardizing its taste too much, is to steep the tea in less hot water than you would typically use, and then add the equivalent amount of ice. However, by following this process, you would not get what is properly known as “cold brew tea”, and the final taste would be different. We recommend trying both brewing methods with different tea bags until you understand which one works better with your favorite tea.

Is Cold Brew Tea Good For You?

Yes, cold brew tea is definitely good for you. It isn’t just tasty and refreshing, but it also has several benefits for our health. 

Studies have found that cold-brewed tea is tendentially less astringent and less caffeinated than its hot counterpart. This is due to colder temperatures, which do not steep out the tea’s beneficial properties the way hot water does.

Benefits of Making and Drinking Cold Brew Tea

Of course, cold brew tea tastes great. Also, there are several other benefits you can enjoy by making this delicious beverage, such as:

  • Bolder Taste. Lots of tea enthusiasts believe that cold brew is the only way to properly enjoy the real taste of your tea, as the leaves will have many hours to release their flavoring. The tea concentrate that you get through cold infusion is usually more bitter and smoother than your average warm cuppa.
  • Easy Brewing Process. Think about it: finally, you can drink your favorite tea at any time without worrying about precise water temperatures or to burn your tongue. Besides, you can easily brew a larger quantity of cold beverage to store in your fridge for whenever you fancy a tea break.
  • Enhanced Nutritional Benefits. Tea is always good for our health. However, tea tends to release less caffeine and acid when brewed in cold water compared to a hot infusion. In other words, cold tea is chemically different from its hot counterpart, although it retains all its antioxidants polyphenols.
  • Potentially Fewer Calories. Tea has no calories unless you brew it in milk or stir in additional flavorings. Studies have found that drinkers tend to add less sugar and syrups to their cold tea then they usually do with hot beverages. This means that you can avoid a lot of hidden calories!

Which Tea is Best for Cold Brew?

There are several different types of teas and extracts you can use to make your cold brew. Sweeter teas, like oolong or fruity ones, are usually the best option for this process. On the other hand, if you are brewing iced tea, you should use green tea, matcha tea, or green shincha.

As a general rule, it is best to use loose tea rather than tea bags, regardless of the type of tea you wish to brew. Teabags are designed to brew quickly with the aid of heat, and an extended steeping time usually makes them taste bitter. On the other hand, loose tea blends more gently and slowly, and it is thus the perfect choice for your cold or iced tea.

Besides, cold water tends to dampen tea’s natural flavor, which can already be a little weaker when it comes to tea bags. This means that, when using tea bags, your cold brew concentrate may not be as bold as your traditional cuppa. Obviously, you can easily adjust your drink’s ultimate taste with sugar, syrups, and milk. However, these additional flavorings would cover the original aroma of your tea even more.

What Tools Do I Need to Make Cold Brew Tea?

Making cold brew tea at home is easy, and you won’t need any special equipment. Based on the brewing method of your choice, you will only need to use one of the following:

  • Pitcher or jar (or any other glass container).
  • Strainer or infuser for loose-leaf tea.
  • Cold brew tea bottle (only if you wish to bring your drink with you on the go).
  • Cold brew coffee maker (if you already have one, otherwise you can just follow another brewing method). 

What Are the Different Techniques to Cold Brew Tea?

Making cold brew tea is incredibly simple. All you need is some loose-leaf tea (or whole tea bags, if you prefer), and some room temperature water.

Let the tea infuse the water for 6 to 12 hours in the refrigerators. Once ready, strain the tea, and your delicious drink will be ready!

The Easiest Way to Make Cold Brew Tea with a Pitcher

The following is a super simple way to make some delicious, refreshing cold brew tea.

What you will need:

  • 1 tsp loose-leaf tea (or 1 tea bag)
  • 6 oz. (180 ml) water (cold or room temperature)
  • Additional flavorings (lemon wedges, mint leaves, sliced cucumber, or sweetener of your choice)

Instructions:

  1. Put your tea in the pitcher. If you are using a tea bag and wish to achieve a bolder taste, you can snip off the corners and dumb the loose tea into the container.
  2. Pour the water slowly to preserve the tea’s freshness.
  3. Cover the pitcher and let it sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes, then store it in your fridge. Leave it for 6 to 8 hours (if brewing green or white tea) or 8 to 12 hours (for oolong or black tea).
  4. When the drink it’s ready, strain the loose-leaf tea out of the pitcher.
  5. Pour the tea into your much through a fine mesh sieve covered with a cheesecloth. Otherwise, just pull out the tea bag. Don’t forget to squeeze any additional liquid from the bags back into the tea.
  6. Serve the tea with any add-ins of your choice. The tea you will get with this method may be mainly concentrated, so you might want to add more water to dilute it slightly, especially if you do not add any sweetener.
  7. If you want, you can also store it in your fridge for 3 to 5 days (unless you add any dairy-based flavor).

Making Cold Brew Tea with Boiled Water

This method is very similar to the previous one, although there is a new ingredient: freshly boiled water.

  1. Add your tea to your pitch or cold brew bottle.
  2. Cover the leaves or the tea bags with freshly boiled water.
  3. Top up with cold water.
  4. Refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours.

Making Iced Brew Tea

Fancy something even cooler? If you love tea, we have the perfect solution for all your hottest sunny days!

  1. Place the tea bags or loose tea in an infuser or heat-resistant glass container.
  2. Pour over freshly boiled water. 
  3. Leave for 15 minutes, then remove the tea.
  4. Top up with ice and garnish with the add-ins of your choice.

How Many Tea Bags Do You Use For Cold Brew?

When it comes to cold brew, there is no set amount of tea bags you can use. The more you brew, the stronger and potentially more bitter your tea will be.

As a general rule, you should use 1 tea bag (which contains about 1 tsp of loose-leaves) per 6 to 8 ounces of water. 

The best thing to do is experiment with different amounts of tea until you find the best quantity. Nevertheless, if you want to make your tea more intense or less bitter, you can still play with additional add-ins, such as sugar, mint leaves, or lemon slices.

Can you Oversteep Cold Brew Tea?

Never forget the golden rule: the longer you brew your tea, the stronger it will taste. If you over steep your tea, you will get a bitter concentrate, which you can still rescue.

If your cold brew is too strong, you can just dilute it with more cold or iced water. On the contrary, if your tea tastes a bit dull and lacks that magic flavor that we all love, you can spice it up with some sweeteners, syrups, or pieces of fruits.

Still not satisfied with your overall result? There is no need to waste some good tea. You can use it as an ingredient for your next recipe. The best thing to do according to experienced chefs? Next time you bake a cake, try to substitute part of the water with your diluted tea. You will immediately highlight the taste of all the other ingredients!

Recommended Cold Steep Times

The only downside of cold brew tea is the waiting time, which takes a few hours. 

Based on the type of tea you are brewing, you will need to wait for a specific time. Based on the opinions of several tea experts and baristas, these are the recommended steeping times:

  • Green and white teas: 6 to 8 hours
  • Black tea: 8 to 12 hours
  • Herbal tea: 12 to 14 hours
  • Pu-erh tea: 10 to 12 hours.

Obviously, you are more than encouraged to experiment with several steeping times. Don’t forget that even an additional 10-minute infusion can completely change the taste of your drink! The best thing to do is test your cold tea after a few hours to see if it’s to your liking. You will also notice that your beverage will change in color as its taste gets deeper.

Can You Make Cold Brew Tea in Milk?

Yes, you can, although the drink you get will be less concentrated and bold than your average cup of cold tea. 

The steeping process transfers the flavor and taste from the tea leaf to any liquid, including milk. Nevertheless, due to its neutral taste, water tends to be the preferred liquid for this process. Besides, some tea, such as fruity infusions, just don’t taste good with milk.

In other words, brewing tea in milk gives a different twist to your experience. Due to the milk’s viscosity, it may be more challenging for the tea to release its actual taste. 

On the other hand, some teas have all the necessary strength and spice to perfectly brew with milk. This is the case of chai. Its sweet aftertaste melts perfectly with the thickness of milk. It’s no coincidence that Chai lattes are so popular! Just a word of advice: when brewing chai in milk, don’t let the milk boil, or you will completely destroy the original taste of the tea leaves.

How to Serve Cold Brew Tea

Cold brew tea can be sweetened as you please. Depending on the tea of your choice, you can also add additional flavorings. For example, the juice of a lemon or an orange would taste great with herbal teas. Fruity teas shouldn’t be served with milk, but you can add some sugar or some pieces of fruit to garnish your mug. If you are serving some refreshing cold lemon tea on a very hot summer afternoon, then you should definitely try it with a sprig of fresh mint leaves.

Some herbs and fresh fruit, such as plums, rosemary, or lemon basil, can be infused with the tea as well. They will slowly release their flavor while the tea brews and give it a more potent aroma. 

Our Favorite Flavorings

There is no such thing as a standard perfect cold brew tea, as we all have our personal preferences. However, these are some of the most popular add-ins:

  • Milk (including dairy-free alternatives)
  • Fresh ginger
  • Coconut sugar or stevia
  • Lemon or orange wedges (or your choice of citrus)
  • Fresh mint
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Cucumber slices
  • A splash of sugar-free lemonade
  • Sparkling water (this works great, especially with white tea!)

Cold Brew Tea Recipes Ideas

Who said that cold brew tea is a boring beverage? There are several ways to enjoy your drink, and the following are some of our favorites (and also some of the easier to make at home):

  • Cold Brew Chai. Add 2 tbsp of loose-leaf chai tea to about a quart of room temperature water. Refrigerate for 8 to 10 hours. Taste with milk or your choice of syrup.
  • Cold Brew Tea Floats: Pour cold brew tea and some sparkling water over your favorite ice cream or sorbet.
  • Cold Brew Tea “Arnold Palmer”: Combine cold brew tea with iced lemonade.
  • Cold Brew Tea Glaze. Mix cold brew tea, vanilla extract, and powdered sugar, pour over cakes, cookies, or any dessert of your choice.
  • Sparkling Cold Brew Tea. Combine cold brew tea with sparkling water and the syrup of your choice.

How to Make an “Adult Brew”

Feeling adventurous? Then, it is time to accompany your cold brew tea with your favorite liquor. Rum and whiskey are the perfect addition to roasted tea, whereas green teas call for vodka or gin. In other words, thanks to your beloved tea, you can become the perfect bartender to impress your friends, family, and guests.

Another very cool way to brew your tea (but only if you are an adult!) is to infuse it with liquor or an entire bottle of vodka, rum, or bourbon. Like it overnight at room temperature and, once ready, remove the tea and blend the concentrate into your favorite cocktails.

How to Sweeten Cold Brew Tea without Sugar

One of the best things about cold brew tea is that you can experiment with lots of flavorings until you get the perfect results. Suppose your tea is too bitter, but you don’t want to use sugar. In that case, there are several lighter sweeteners that you can use to avoid extra calories or to make your beverage keto-friendly.

Honey

Honey is the best option for sweetening your tea if you don’t want to use refined sugars. You only need 3 or 4 tbsp of honey for an entire batch of tea. However, remember to always add some warm water to the honey before stirring it into your beverage, to help it dissolve quickly and easily, and to avoid honey clumps. Honey suits fruity and green teas perfectly. Besides, there are several flavors of honey you can play with, such as windflower honey or clover honey.

Liquid Stevia

Liquid stevia is a sugar-free, plant-based alternative to your average sweetener. Thus, it is the perfect traditional sugar substitute, as it has no calories and won’t affect your blood sugar levels. We recommend using liquid stevia, so it will stir quickly into your tea even in the absence of hot liquids. You should use about 6 to 8 drops of liquid stevia per cup of tea, although you may change this ratio based on your preferences.

Syrups

Syrups are just sugar dissolved in water, with additional flavors (such as vanilla, chocolate, and many others). Although this may not be the best option if you wish to reduce your calories, syrups can be a great treat to spice your cold tea up. Besides, you can still keep an eye on any potential hidden calories by making your own syrup at home.

Fruit and Fruit Juices

Fruit is the ultimate natural sweetener. It will make your tea body’s bolder and smoother, and give it a wonderful scent. Fruit juices are delicious and refreshing, can be made at home, and are perfect with both green and black tea.

Herbs and Spices

The best thing about spices is that they can be added to both hot and cold beverages. They will immediately release their natural oils. Cinnamon, cardamom, clove, nutmeg, lemongrass, and star anise are only some of the many herbs and spices you can add to your tea. Nevertheless, you should always be careful: some spices might overpower your tea’s natural taste.

Cold Solutions For Tea Lovers

Suppose you are a tea lover looking to switch up your traditional brew for something new and tastier. In that case, you should definitely try cold brew tea.

There is no need for complicated recipes or expensive kitchen appliances. Cold or room temperature water, your favorite tea bags (or loose-leaf tea), and a jug will do the trick. You can even use your French press!

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