Cold Brew Tea: How and Why You Should Make It
Updated: Aug 30
Better tasting tea, ease of "brewing", and the bonus health benefits completely sold me on the concept of cold brewed tea. A steamy cup of tea is the last thing I feel like consuming sometimes, especially when I am working up a sweat cleaning and chasing my kids around the house. Steeping tea leaves in cold water produces a refreshing drink that, once made, is available to be enjoyed at any time -perfect for a busy lifestyle.
Benefits of cold brew tea:
You will find yourself with a sweeter, more full-bodied cup of tea. Since cold tea is muddled longer than hot tea, more time exists for all the flavor of each botanical to be extracted.
Your tea will be less bitter because there is no heat involved. Heat is what causes the tannins (which cause the bitter taste) in the tea leaves to come out.
It contains less caffeine. Caffeine is more dissolvable in hot water than in cold, so naturally a cold brewed tea will involve less of it.
Since vitamin C and antioxidants are substantially destroyed by heat, cold brewing is the best means of preserving the most health benefits of your tea.
It makes for a more refreshing treat in hotter weather, and can help keep you hydrated.
Cold brewed tea is easier than making hot tea. However, it does require some pre-planning, as the steep times are far longer.
How do I make cold brew tea?
It is made by placing the tea leaves, herbs, and other botanicals into cold water and letting it sit. You will need one tea bag or 1-1.5 teaspoons of loose leaf tea for every 8 ounces of water, depending on how strong you like your tea. (If you are making a tea that contains larger chunks like dried fruit, err on the side of more. For these, I personally use a nice heaping teaspoon per cup of water. If you have a more compact tea, like peppermint, use only a teaspoon.) The tea is placed directly into the water and left to steep. Your final step is to remove all leaves from the water. If you put your botanicals in loose, you may filter it with either a cheesecloth, fine mesh strainer, or coffee filter. (I prefer to pack my own loose-leaf tea into unbleached tea bags to avoid any filtering.) The finished tea should be stored in a refrigerator.
Because you can make a large batch and the tea stores in the refrigerator, this method of steeping tea ends up saving time. I like to fill a quart mason jar with water, add 4-5 teaspoons of loose leaf tea, and let it all sit together overnight. In the morning, I have 4 cups of tea to consume at my leisure. I know I would skip making myself a cup of tea in time past simply because of the time involved. (Plus, as a busy mom, I would rarely get to drink my tea while it was hot anyways!)
Can I over-steep it?
In my own experience and from my research, you cannot really over-steep cold brewed tea. If you leave it for more than a day or two, it is said to potentially turn bitter. Some sources will tell you there is a specific amount of time to allow each kind of tea (rooibos, herbal, black, green, ect.) to soak. I have not personally tested every single tea and timing, however, I have forgotten about my tea in the refrigerator for a full day (oops!) and it has tasted just the same as when I took it out at exactly the right hour mark. From my experience, I really think the different timings for different teas greatly overcomplicates what should be a simple process.
What is the best kind of tea to use?
It all comes down to preference when it comes to the specific type of tea. Whatever kind you end up choosing, my recommendation would be to use the absolute freshest tea that you can get your hands on for optimal flavor. Pre-bagged and packaged tea has already lost potentcy by the time you buy it off the shelf. I also prefer to get my tea in loose-leaf format. This allows me to adjust the amount I use more easily than a pre-filled tea bag.
You may find a specialized tea retailer, health food store, or even a local grocer that carries fresh, loose leaf tea in your area. Multiple online options exist as well, although I cannot vouch for any one in particular. I recieve my tea from a specialty shop back up in my home state of Wisconsin thanks to some kind relatives.
What you need:
A pitcher, glass, or mason jar (I prefer to use a mason jar with a leak proof lid.)
Decide how many cups of tea you want or how many cups will fit in your container.
Measure out 1-1.5 tsp tea leaves or add 1 tea bag per each cup of water.
Place everything in your container. Give it a little shake or stir to make sure all the tea botanicals are submerged.
Place in refrigerator and allow to steep for 10-12 hours.
Remove tea leaves, and store finished product in the refrigerator.
Optional: add sugar, honey, or sweetener of choice.
I definitely consume more tea now due to the convienience and level of invigoration I get out of drinking a cup of cold brewed tea. Next time you go to make yourself some tea, I highly recommend you give this method a try.