Cold Brew Tea

Iced tea is a distinctly American phenomenon. It’s the first tea I was introduced to as a kid when we traveled from Ohio to North Carolina every summer to visit my grandparents and other southern relatives. After the hot, sunny days, evenings were punctuated by a tall glass of southern sweet tea, basically black tea laden with sugar and lemons, poured over ice.

At the time, I wasn’t a fan of the bitter and astringent taste of the black tea hiding behind all that sugar. Many years later, I discovered a recipe for southern sweet tea in one of my grandmother’s cookbooks. The discovery brought back fond memories of evenings spent outdoors with the adults talking into the wee hours and me and the other kids catching fireflies and engaging in other mischief. It also inspired me to create a modern, healthy version of southern sweet tea. I call it Sweet Revival, and it’s the only tea blend I’ve created with the specific intention of serving it over ice.

In the years since I was first introduced to southern sweet tea, I became an herbalist and started drinking tea and herbal tea on a daily basis. My love of tea has lead me to discover many teas and herbs that taste great chilled or served over ice. In my experience (and to my taste buds), tea blends that make the best iced teas are rich and full bodied in flavor, spicy, floral or fruity. In addition to Sweet Revival, Lemon Ginger Black Tea, Matcha Ginger Buzz, Spice Garden, Patagonia Super Berry and Patagonia Wild Guava all are scrumptious on ice. The many cooling herbs described in this recent post, Cooing Herbs for Hot Days, also make a lovely beverage served over ice. 

Let’s learn how to make Iced Tea + Cold Brew Tea.

Cold Brew Teas

There are essentially two ways to prepare an iced tea, the “hot brew” method and the “cold brew” method. Herbalists have long known that some herbs are best prepared in cold water as a cold infusion to extract specific therapeutic compounds. Now “cold brew” is the “hot” new trend in tea and coffee. Well, it’s not new, but it is a great way to prepare tea, especially during hot weather when you want something cooling to drink.

Hot Brew Method

This is the most widely used method for preparing iced tea. It is quick and effective, but the finished tea will likely be more astringent and somewhat more bitter that an iced tea prepared using the cold brew method, below.

  1. Measure loose leaf tea or herbal tea blend, generally 1 tablespoon per 8 ounce cup.
  2. Heat the water to the appropriate temperature for the tea or herbal blend (this can vary from 212°F for herbal and dark teas to 180°F for green tea). Pour half the recommended volume of water over the tea and allow to steep for the recommended time. This too will vary from as long as 15 or 20 minutes for herbal blends to 2-5 minutes for green, black, oolong and white teas.
  3. After steeping, strain the tea and add cold water equal to half the normal volume of water. This will cool the tea and dilute the concentration to regular strength.
  4. To serve, pour the tea into ice filled glasses. This is preferred over adding ice to the pitcher, as that will water down the tea.

Cold Brew Method

The cold brew or cold infusion method is not only easy, it results in a unique flavor profile that is typically smoother and less astringent and bitter than the hot brew method. It also tends to bring out more of the fresh, floral and fruity notes. Herbalists prefer the cold brew method for herbs that are rich in vitamins and minerals or rich in mucilage because cold brewing extracts more of these important nutrients and compounds. If you’re simply looking for a lovely summer iced tea, let your senses guide you.

  1. Measure loose leaf tea or herbal tea blend, generally 1 tablespoon per 8 ounce cup.
  2. Using chilled and filtered water, pour the recommended volume of water over the tea.
  3. Refrigerate and allow to infuse at least four hours or overnight. For green and white teas, 4-6 hours is recommended. Black, oolongs and herbal teas can easily steep 8 hours or overnight.
  4. After steeping, strain the tea and taste. The flavor can be adjusted by adding more cold filtered water.
  5. Chill until serving. To serve, pour the tea into ice filled glasses. This is preferred over adding ice to the pitcher, as that will water down the tea.

Have a great summer and enjoy some cold brew. If you have questions, please leave a comment below.



Cold Brew Teas

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