Can You Really Make Tea With Cold Water ? (Cold Brewing Tea)

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Ingredients

Simple Black Iced Tea

  • 3-4 black tea bags
  • Sugar to taste
  • Ice cubes
  • Water
  • Mint (optional)

Fruity Iced Tea

  • 3-4 black tea bags
  • 1 cup of any diced fruit
  • Sugar to taste
  • 1/2 cup sugar syrup
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • Ice cubes
  • Water
  • Sprig of mint

Strawberry Iced Tea

  • 3-4 black tea bags
  • Sugar to taste
  • Ice cubes
  • Water
  • Sprig of mint
  • 900g puréed strawberries
  • 2 whole strawberries

Vanilla Iced Green Tea

  • 4 tsp. sencha tea
  • Sugar to taste
  • Ice cubes
  • Water
  • Sprig of mint
  • Honey
  • Lemon juice
  • 1 scoop vanilla ice cream

Herbal tea temperature

You can brew most herbal teas with boiling water and even simmer in water over a low fire. Therefore, the best temperature to brew tea will be 212°F. However, let the water cool for a second or two in the kettle when it’s boiled. This will reduce a chance of any hard water deposits from tea kettles ending up in your mug or burning yourself with steam.

Here are the best temperatures and times for the most common herbal teas:

  • Chamomile – 212°F for 5 minutes, use 1-2 teaspoons of leaves
  • Mint – 212°F for 5 minutes, use 1-1 ½ teaspoons of leaves
  • Rooibos – 212°F for 8-10 minutes, use 1 teaspoon of leaves
  • Rosemary– 212°F for 10-15 minutes, use ½ -1 teaspoon of leaves
  • Linden flowers– 212°F for 10 minutes, use 1 teaspoon of flowers
  • Rose hips– 212°F for 10-15 minutes, use 1-2 teaspoon of rose hips
  • Hibiscus– 212°F for 5-10 minutes, use 1-2 teaspoon of flowers depending on their size
  • Yerba mate– 203-208°F for 3-5 minutes, use 1 teaspoon of leaves

For blends with two or more ingredients, follow the instructions on the label. In the absence of instructions, use the water temperature and steep time recommended for the most delicate ingredient in the blend.

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Are Tea Bags or Loose Tea Better?

Loose tea is much better than tea bags. The tea in tea bags is mostly the finer dust and broken leaves that is produced whilst processing quality loose tea. Tea bags were invented as a way to market tea that consumers would not tolerate in a loose tea product.Not only is the tea quality lower in tea bags, but the tea has less room to move around which hampers the infusion process.For cold brewed tea you will use relatively small amounts of tea leaves anyway since the best cold brewed tea does not need to be strong. This means the higher cost of the loose tea leaves is spread over a longer period which reduces the importance of cost. And you will enjoy your cold tea much more.

How to actually make cold brewed tea

Take whatever container you choose to use, and measure its full volume of water. Allow for the fact that the leaves (and possibly a filter) will displace some water.

So if your container would be able to fill to 2 liters of water, keep in mind that the leaves and filter can displace about 150 ml of water. So that leaves you with 1.85 liters of water.

According to the ratio we discussed before, that much water would need 22 teaspoons of tea leaves.

Add the leaves into the empty, clean container. If you’d like to add any flavorings, like a few slices of lemon or some mint or berries, now is the time, before you add water.

Add as much as you think the total water volume will need. Then add the water over the leaves, up until the mark you’ve set.

The water can be ice cold or just as cold as it comes from the tap. Just make sure it’s good, clean water.

After you’ve added the leaves and water, you will need to put the lid or cap or some sort of seal over your drink. Transfer it to the fridge and leave it anywhere between 8 and 16 hours.

For example white tea will need way more time than green or black tea. Pu’er tea will need less time, since it’s a very strong tasting tea to begin with.

Sweetening this drink should only be done after the brewing’s been done. And it’s best to use a syrup or honey for this, or something else than can dissolve into water easier than sugar crystals.

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Difference Between Iced Tea and Cold Brew

Before I show you how to make cold brew tea, let me explain how it’s different from iced tea.

Iced tea is made using a traditional hot brew method. The tea is poured over ice to create summer’s favorite drink.

On the other hand, cold brew tea is brewed with cold water. It can be poured over ice to create an iced tea drink, as well. Therefore, the main difference between iced tea and cold brew tea is the brewing technique (hot or cold).

Can You Steep Tea in Cold Water?

Absolutely. The process of steeping cold tea over several hours is much longer than with hot tea and will extract the taste, tannin and antioxidants much more slowly. This gives you a much longer window of opportunity to remove the leaves at the optimum time and results in less tannin in the tea and so a smoother, purer taste.

Expert Tips

  • Ice is optional since the tea is already chilled, but add ice to keep it colder for longer.
  • Not all tea is cold brewed for the same amount of time. Green tea in general is trickier to cold brew. It can taste bitter if not made properly so always check brewing guides. Black tea, oolong tea, and herbal teas are the easiest to brew since it’s harder to mess up and should be cold brewed for 12 hours.
  • Instead using a strainer, the easiest way to cold brew tea is in a cold brew maker since you can just take out the infuser instead of straining the tea into another container.
  • Make and store your tea in glass containers. Plastic tends to stain and leave behind odors.
  • Keep cold brewed tea in constant rotation by starting a new brew 1-2 days after starting the first.
  • Cold brewed tea can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Some Tea Bags Should Never Be Prepared With Cold Water

Some teas should never be brewed with cold water. Depending on the leaf material, additives, and aroma used in the tea, boiling or at least hot (176 °F, 80 °C) water may be necessary for the tea to be safe to drink.

This includes a lot of aromatized teas, herbal teas and teas based on bamboo. To be sure, please read the instructions on the packaging or ask the person behind the counter.

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Cold Brew Iced Tea Drink Ideas

If you made ready to drink cold brew tea add sweetener if desired and pour over ice. Simple syrup is ideal since it’s already dissolved.

Here’s an idea. If you made multiple flavors like a fruity herb tea and green tea, mix them together and pour over ice.

If you made cold brew tea concentrate, the combination of drinks you can make are as limited as your imagination.

You can even look at the Starbucks iced tea menu to see their lineup of delicious iced tea drink combinations.

For instance, they combine tea concentrate with another drink like lemonade or peach juice to create a thirst-quenching iced tea. Here you can see my Starbucks copycat recipe for Iced Green Tea Lemonade.

Furthermore, cold brew tea concentrate is ideal for making iced tea lattes. As a matter of fact, I cold brew English Breakfast tea to make an Iced Caramel English Breakfast Tea Latte. Yum!

And here’s my recipe for a decadent Iced London Fog Latte with Vanilla Sweet Cream, made with cold brew earl grey tea.

Finally, to make regular iced tea using concentrate just add fresh water or even seltzer water to make it a little fizzy.

Refreshing glass of cold brewed iced tea. This is
Refreshing glass of cold brewed iced tea. This is DavidsTea Justy Peachy herbal blend.

Reason #2:  There is less oxygen in hot water than cold

Oxygen plays a large role in the flavor of the water as it relates to tea. The simple rule is the more oxygen the better. As water is heated, the molecules become exited and move around more. This leads to oxygen escaping and since the hot water in your house is stored in a hot water heater for an extended period of time, a lot more oxygen is released compared to cold water that is brought to a boil. I know what some of you scientific types are thinking. Water can only have two molecules of oxygen. After all, it is H2O. But, what I am talking about here deals with the solubility of oxygen in water and not the chemical makeup of water. So, while the chemical makeup will never change, the saturation point of oxygen in water will.

Less Tannins In Tea Brewed In Cold Water Makes It “Gentle”

Tannic acid is a common compound found in tea responsible for a dry mouthfeel and bitter taste. In hot water, tannic acid is very soluble. To lower the solubility, water at room temperature is not cold enough. You will need to use ice-cold water to exclude most tannins from your tea experience.

Tannic acid is a compound that is found in all kinds of tea made from Camellia Sinensis and can be found in many other places with a predominant example being red wine.

Even at room temperature, tannic acid remains somewhat soluble in water and will thus remain in your tea infusion. The dry mouthfeel will be much less noticeable at these brewing temperatures, though.

The least tannins will be dissolved when cold brewing the tea with ice-cold water. If you choose to make tea with ice cold water, many flavors (including bitter taste) will mostly disappear.

Depending on the tea you want to brew, tannins may play a large role in giving the tea a full-bodied and round taste. That is especially the case with black tea and pu erh tea.

If you want your tea to be full-bodied, you shouldn’t use cold water. If you want your tea to be gentle and light, then cold brewing is the way to go.

The best way to make iced tea is with cold brewed tea

The best way to make cold brew tea isn’t by heating the water and letting the tea steep for a few hours until it cools. Neither is it to brew hot tea normally and then wait for it to cool.

In the first case, using hot water and letting the tea leaves infuse for several hours until it becomes cool on its own leads to an overextracted tea. This is often a bitter, astringent tea, and not tasty at all.

In the second case, waiting for a cup of hot tea to cool won’t make it very tasty. This is because tea extracted with hot water doesn’t taste as good cold. You can drink it, yes, but you’ll notice something’s off about it.

The best way to make cold brewed tea is to apply cold water from the get-go. I know it sounds a bit odd, especially if you’re used to hot brewed tea.

You first question would probably is it works. Yes, it does work, But it’s a very slow process.

The reason hot tea takes only a few minutes is because heat makes the flavors and caffeine release much quicker. But this can often lead to overextraction, and that’s never a good taste.

Cold extraction, which is essentially what we’re doing when cold brewing tea, is much slower and releases the chemical compounds in anything differently.

It does take longer, and you have to plan it in advance. If you want cold brewed tea now, you have to take out the pitcher you set to steep yesterday.

So if you were to simply brew hot tea, and let it sit until it cooled, you’d get a flat taste since the flavor will pretty much evaporate.

You can use ice cubes in your cold brewed tea, during the steeping. It will make the flavors stand out even more, but remember that ice is just frozen water, so you’ll have to allow for that when calculating how much tea to use.

How to Make Iced Tea With Tea Bags 4 Different Ways

Step 1: Prepare Tea

To make a standard brew of iced tea, start with 3 to 4 black tea bags. You can use any black tea you like, although Ceylon and Keemun black teas work best since they won’t become cloudy when cooled. You can also opt for our Island Coconut Black Tea for a tropical note.

Step 2: Heat Water

To prepare iced tea, you brew just as you would a normal pot of hot tea. Add 2 cups of water to a pot or pan on the stovetop. Bring water to a boil, turn off heat and immediately add the black tea bags to the boiling water. Most black teas can be brewed using water temperatures between 200 and 212 F. If you decide to use a more delicate black tea such as Darjeeling tea, heat your water to 180 or 190 F instead.

For the most accurate results, use a tea kettle with temperature controls or use a thermometer to monitor the temperature of your hot water on the stove. While not as sensitive to temperature as green tea, some black teas can still develop astringent flavors if brewed too hot.

Step 3: Steep

Allow the tea bags to steep for 3 to 5 minutes at most. If you brew longer than 5 minutes, the tea will develop bitter flavors or become too strong. Steep for 3 minutes and taste every 30 seconds to ensure your desired flavor.

Step 4: Add More Water

After steeping, pour the tea into a pitcher and allow to cool for 5 to 10 minutes. Once the tea reaches room temperature, add 2 cups of cold water to the pitcher. Stir and refrigerate for 2 hours before serving.

Step 5: Serve and Enjoy!

Once the tea is cold, fill glasses with ice cubes for serving. If desired, add 1 cup lemon juice to the tea to make it an Arnold Palmer and garnish with lemon slices and mint leaves for a beautiful display.

2. Fruit-Infused Iced Tea

To make a fruity iced tea, you can use fresh fruit or a fruit-infused syrup. Most high-quality tea will use fresh fruit instead of syrup, although syrup is a good alternative if you don’t have any fruit on hand and need to make iced tea last minute.

The beauty of fruit-infused iced tea is that you can use a variety of fruits to explore new flavors. Some of the most popular iced fruit teas include raspberry, passion fruit, peach, cherry and strawberry tea.

Step 1: Brew Black Iced Tea

Start by brewing just as you would for normal iced tea. Boil 2 cups water, steep 3 to 4 black tea bags for 5 minutes maximum, add 2 more cups cold water, pour into a pitcher and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours.

Step 2: Sweeten and Add Fruit

For sweeter fruit tea, add 1/2 cup of sugar to your black tea brew in the pitcher. Next, cut and add about 1 cup of your choice of fruit. You can use a variety of fruits for a mixed fruit iced tea or stick to just one flavor. In addition to the flavors above, you can also use oranges, pineapple, apples, grapes and kiwis. For a blended option, puree the fruit of your choice before adding to the tea mixture.

Step 3: Stir and Serve

Mix the fruit and tea well. Serve in chilled glasses with ice cubes and garnish with a sprig of mint or basil. Pair with a tea cake for an afternoon tea party or brunch event.

3. Vanilla Iced Tea

If you prefer creamy iced teas, opt for a vanilla blend that offers a full-bodied tea drinking experience. Try our Earl Grey Cream Tea, which is a black tea mixed with French vanilla and infused with bergamot. The smooth vanilla flavor counteracts the bitter, astringent quality of black tea resulting in a sweeter, smoother black iced tea.

Step 1: Brew and Steep Tea Bags

Heat 4 cups of water on the stove as you would for normal black iced tea. Add 3 to 4 vanilla-flavored tea bags or use standard Sencha tea bags. Allow the tea to steep for 1 to 2 minutes before transferring to a pitcher and allowing to cool for 2 hours.

Step 2: Flavor

Squeeze one full lemon into the pitcher or use 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. To sweeten, add 1 tablespoon of simple syrup or another sugar syrup alternative. If you prefer to use granulated sugar or honey, add these sweeteners when the tea is still hot since cold water doesn’t dissolve solids well. For added indulgence, add a dollop of vanilla ice cream to each glass before pouring the iced tea on top.

4. Green Iced Tea

To make iced green tea, start by using your favorite green tea bags instead of black tea. You can also use another true tea like white tea or oolong tea if preferred. Bring 4 cups of water to a boil and allow to cool for 1 minute. Add the green tea bags and allow to steep in a covered vessel for 5 minutes. Stir in 2 cups of cold water, sweeten to taste and serve over ice.

5. Fruity Iced Tea With Blackberries, Mint, and Pomegranate

Looking for the perfect cup of iced tea to celebrate summer with? A fruity blend of flavors and the bold notes of true tea can help quench your thirst and keep you cool all summer long. Try this quick and easy recipe to serve up the perfect iced tea with tart and sweet flavors.

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Bring water to a rapid boil in a large saucepan on the stove.
  2. Remove from heat and add in tea bags or tea leaves. Let the tea steep until the tea concentrate reaches room temperature.
  3. Ina  large glass pitcher, gently crush blackberries, pomegranate, and mint leaves using a wooden spoon.
  4. Pour the tea concentrate into the pitcher and sweeten as desired. Serve the tea over ice in large glasses. Garnish with a blackberries and mint sprig and enjoy!

Reader Success Stories

  • DeAnne Brown

Jul 17, 2020

    DeAnne Brown Jul 17, 2020

    “When it was so hot and humid the first real day of summer this year, I needed something cold to drink that was healthy and not loaded with calories. I was out of iced tea mix. So I found this recipe and made the tea. It was easy and I drank up the whole pitcher in one afternoon. I copied the instructions and made the tea many times. Thank you! “…” more

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