Summer is finally here! Even though I personally enjoy the heat, sometimes it can be too much and I start craving a cold beverage. Enter, cold brew tea! Cold brew is a new method of steeping tea that’s different from the traditional hot brew, and there’s just as much science behind it. Moreover, cold brew is also convenient and efficient compared to hot brew, which is becoming increasingly popular among the city people for their fast pace of life.
Cold Brewed Tea vs. Hot Brewed Tea
Cold brew can better preserve the beneficial elements in the tea, such as polyphenols and flavonoids, by taking advantage of the lower temperature water and longer steeping time. It can also efficiently prevent tannins from releasing into the liquor so the tea becomes less likely to be astringent or bitter. In addition, it reduces the caffeine content so that it makes a great cooling beverage option even at night. What makes cold brew tea even more interesting is that since our body temperature is higher than the cold brew, when the liquor enters our mouth and arrives on our palate, we can sense more fragrance and taste more sweetness, especially with some black tea and oolong teas.
The reason cold brewed tea is more likely to be sweet rather than astringent is because the amino acid in teas, which produces sweet flavor, is more likely to dissolve first into the cold water, whereas tannins, which produce astringency, are less likely to dissolve into cold water. No wonder everyone loves a good cold brewed tea!
Health Benefits of Cold Brew
Teas that are produced from Camellia Sinensis tea trees possess over 700 beneficial properties and have high nutritional value. However after it’s brewed with boiled water, it’s very likely that a lot of nutritional properties are damaged. Cold brewed tea delivers both tastiness and nutrition. One particular element called catechin, which is a type of natural phenol and antioxidant, has proved to have a higher content in cold brew than hot brew. In short, most of the chemical properties in tea increase with time when it’s cold brewed and tend to reach their maximum at the two hour mark. Research has also shown that most of the properties reach higher content in cold brew than in hot brew with the exception of caffeine.
Teas that are Suitable for Cold Brew
Not every single tea is suitable for making a cold brew. There are still some general guidelines we need to keep in mind when choosing one to experiment with. In general, people favor green tea, light oxidized oolong tea (such as A Li Shan Milky Oolong, Phoenix Dan Cong Duck Shit, Phoenix Dan Cong Honey Orchid Aroma and Bao Zhong, etc.), and white tea (Silver Needle, White Peony, Han Lu, Shou Mei). It’s also generally believed that fresh harvested teas are better options than aged teas. Highly oxidized tea, such as certain black teas, Iron Buddha (Tie Guan Yin), and Pu Erh tea are viewed as poor options since they are more likely to become bitter and fragrantless.
However that is not to say one could not enjoy experiment outside of the guidelines. Recently, we tried Dong Ding, which is a medium to high level oxidized oolong tea from Taiwan, as well as Honey Oolong, which is another high oxidized oolong tea also from Taiwan, and they both turn out to be deliciously refreshing. The only difference is that Dong Ding doesn’t produce the dryness on the palate, vs. Honey Oolong despite its distinctive fragrance, there’s a mild dryness. We also tried our Golden Lily black tea and Phoenix Dan Cong black tea, both turned out to be malty with fruity sweetness. Although we encourage experimenting, we wouldn’t recommend aged white tea since that defeats the purpose of the age.
Cold Brew Method
- The most important guideline to remember is the tea to water ratio is 1:50, meaning for every 1 gram of tea, we want to use 50ml of water to begin with and you can make adjustments from there based on your personal tasting preference.
- This step is optional, as you can put tea leaves directly into a tumbler or teapot with filter, or you can put tea leaves in a tea bag first.
- It’s also recommended to use mineral water, but regular water would do just fine too.
- It’s better to use a tumbler or a glass teapot/jar to steep. The steeping time is anywhere between 1-3 hours, but some green teas only need 30-40 minutes.
- The unfinished tea can be stored in the fridge, but no more than 24 hours. When the tea is taken out from the fridge, it should be drunk within 2 hours.
What are some of your favorite cold brews for this summer? Please share with us in the comments below!