If you think only a nice hot cuppa would do, look away now! However, you'd miss out on new flavor profiles which are unlocked by these very different methods of brewing. Iced teas are made by hot brewing a strong favourite tea or blend then mixing it with plenty of ice so it cools down, with an optional garnish of lemon slices, berries, mint etc. This method is fine, however it’s a bit hit or miss as if you steep the leaves for too long it just tastes like cold, bitter, tannin-packed tea. This is why commercially bottled iced teas are loaded with syrups, sugar and artificial flavours so they are best avoided.
By contrast the cold brew method – brewing in cold water in the first place – results in fewer tannins and often, a more delicate, naturally sweet, refreshing flavor. This is because cold water extracts a different chemical balance from the tea than hot water. Chemically speaking, this means there are fewer catechins and less caffeine which drops out the bitterness.
OUR TIPS FOR MAKING THE BEST COLD-BREW TEA oh and did we mention cold-brewed teas have way more antioxidants than hot brewed teas? Go figure...
- you don't need any fancy equipment, only a jar or pitcher and a strainer;
- you'll need to use 1.5 times more tea leaves than you would normally use for a hot brew, so that's one tablespoon per cup;
- it goes without saying, loose leaves work best. You can experiment with the flavour intensity by adding more/less and if you go for higher quality loose leaves, they’re likely to be intense enough to re-infuse them. So, once the first brew is done, simply add more water, and pop them back in the fridge. The second cup will be lighter in flavour but still lovely.
- add cold water. In the ancient times, the tea scholar Lu Yu said the best water for brewing tea came from the center of a swiftly moving mountain stream. Given that none of us have one of those in the kitchen you may want to consider other options. It's ok to use tap water if it's neutral and clean tasting - but if you don't like the taste of your tap water then don't use it to brew your tea. Use filtered water instead. Don't use distilled water or softened water as the tea would just taste flat - you need a certain mineral balance for a great tasting tea.
- then cover and refrigerate for 6 - 8 hours. Or overnight so the magic happens while you’re asleep. You combine your ingredients the night before and – voilà – in the morning you wake up to something delicious. Minimum effort, maximum results.
- express yourself in the brew! Add • Fresh strawberries or raspberries • Sliced peaches or apricots • Muddled lavender, basil, mint and other herbs from your garden • Violets and other edible flowers for a pretty cup • Raw, local honey or maple syrup (stay away from aspartame and other synthetics) • Citrus slices and zest • For an awesome chai, add milk of your choice
- of course you could add a splash of gin for a seasonal G&Tea, though we may be straying into cocktails here…
In the next post we'll tell you which teas and blends are our favourites, in the meantime you'll find us in the kitchen, experimenting! Those G&T infused tea cocktails won't drink themselves you know ;-)