You probably heard a lot of buzz about cold brew tea or coffee lately, but what difference does it make to the traditional tea brewed hot and poured over ice? Does it taste differently, does it change its properties?
1. Cold brewed tea is smooth and versatile – Most cold brew tea turns out smoother in taste than its hot brewed cousin. Time is also a much versatile variable when cold-brewing. It’s not minutes but hours that will get all the goodness out of those tea leaves or blends. Most black teas when cold brewed will have less astringency, fruit and hibiscus based tisanes will be less tart, and green teas will be more or less ‘grassy’ but not bitter, depending on how many hours you cold-brew them.
2. How much caffeine? – The longer the time you cold-brew, the more caffeine you extract of your tea leaves. Most teas have extracted a good amount of its flavor after 2-3 hours of cold brewing. So if you care for less caffeine, go for shorter brewed times.
3. And what about those good polyphenols and antioxidants? – Well, it turns out that cold brewing tea for a long time (overnight) will get you as much or more of these polyphenols praised as an especially healthy component in green teas, as you would get with a hot brew.
4. Not for everyone’s cup of tea – It all comes down to taste after all. Some people love the astringency in tea and will miss it in cold brews. Some blends that contain oily extracts or flavoring might have a completely different flavor profile when brewed hot vs. cold. For example, we feel that cold brewed earl grey highlights the bergamot extract and masks the astringency to the point that we would definitely stick with hot steeping this English classic. There’s not one size fits all, you will have to let your taste buds be the judge. But thankfully, there are plenty of options for Culteavo iced teas.
5. No instant gratification – It’s hot outside, and you want some iced tea now? If you did not plan for cold brewed tea a few hours ago or the night before, then you are stuck with traditional hot steeping and pouring over ice.
How to make cold brewed tea?
With the fuzz of cold brewed tea, you can now find various gadgets, drippers, filters and other paraphernalia that savvy tea entrepreneurs have brought to the market.
But if you are like us, and have enough stuff in your house and kitchen already, or don’t want to spend a fortune in new gadgets, you will do just fine with a few inexpensive tricks to get your favorite cold brew made with ease and to perfection.
RECIPE – Use 1.5 oz of your favorite culteavo loose-leaf tea or herbal blend into 1/2 gallon of cold filtered water. Let it cold-brew in the fridge for at least 2-3 hours and up to overnight. Filter out (strain) the leaves or herbal blend and dilute into the same amount of water and/or ice and you ‘ll have 1 gallon of deliciously smooth cold brew tea to enjoy!
1. The container – We recommend using a wide mouth mason jar that you might already have in your household. ½ gallon jars or larger are ideal, as you can make a more concentrated cold brew tea that can be diluted with water and poured over ice when serving. If you don’t have one, you can pick up a 6-pack of half gallon jars at Walmart for a little over $10.
2. The strainer – Once hours pass and your cold brewed concoction is ready you want to make sure you end up with a pure liquid with no leaves, fruits or droppings. The good old strainer that is wide enough to catch everything but the liquid when pouring it onto a pitcher will do the trick. However, we prefer to use nutmilk bags as a ‘giant tea bag’ where your tea or tisane blend will rest while cold brewing. Once you are done, just take the bag out of your container, squeeze the remaining liquid out of it and you are done! We love Ellie’s bags at Amazon, they are reusable and durable.
Now a few words of wisdom: you want the tea while cold brewing to be able to expand and move freely within the bag, so the tea in the bag will expand significantly. That’s why a wide mouth jar will make taking the bag out of it a lot easier.
3. The pitcher – Same here, most of us have pitchers or carafes at home. If we were to pick one, I would definitely prefer glass over plastic, as it will avoid getting any cross-flavor contamination. Being clear glass it will also enhance the looks of that beautiful brew and that is part of the experience. And finally, we also prefer carafes that have a lid that can be closed, which will not only avoid spilling but can be laid down flat on the fridge and also will keep your cold brewed tea fresh longer.