What exactly is cold brew iced tea? And how do you make it?
As we’ve mentioned before, nothing satisfies a summertime craving quite like iced tea. Cold brewing is a simply delectable way to make great-tasting iced tea. Just like with cold brew coffee—considered the gold standard for iced coffee—this method involves infusing loose tea leaves in cold water overnight to slowly bring out the light and sweet notes of the tea.
Here’s the easiest 4-step recipe, based on the method outlined by Dani Spies; we like to put our gourmet twist on it by always using loose tea leaves to amplify flavor and ensure quality.
- Pour Heavenly Tea Leaves into a container or pitcher (ideally one made of glass and lidded). Use 1 teaspoon for every 6 to 8 ounces of water, depending on your preferred strength. If you are using a pitcher with a built-in strainer, pour the tea into the strainer for easy removal later on.
- Pour room-temperature water over the tea leaves. (The amount will depend on the size of your jug, as noted in step one.)
- Secure the lid and refrigerate so the tea infuses overnight, for about 8 to 12 hours.
- Strain the leaves out and enjoy your cold brew! (You can leave the tea leaves in the brew for longer depending on the tea type – this works well with herbal teas.) Add your sweetener or mix-ins of choice, like honey, berries, lemon, cinnamon, or mint, and serve over ice!
To get it down to a science, experts recommend leaving the tea mixture to sit at room temperature for up to an hour before refrigerating. Plus, you may be able to re-steep the same leaves in a new batch once you’re done, if your leaves are high quality. An interesting Japanese method called kouridashi brewing involves slowly melting ice with stronger-tasting green tea leaves; this delicate and precise process is known to bring out the deep and complex flavors even more than a regular cold brew while avoiding bitterness.
Why cold brew over the hot-to-cold method?
Now that you have the scoop on cold brew, you might be wondering why it beats regular brewing in many cases. A little-known fact is that brewing tea using heat can bring out astringent flavors that won’t translate well when consumed cold. But when you steep tea in cold water, the naturally occurring tannins in the leaves don’t extract as easily, meaning your cup will be both less bitter and less caffeinated than hot tea that is later cooled. How’s that for refreshing?
And of course, summertime beckons cold brew tea as a great and naturally sweet alternative to sugary bottled iced teas and lemonades, iced coffees that lead to jitters, artificial sodas, heavy dairy-based drinks, and other less-than-wholesome beverages. Drinking cold brewed iced tea is also a way to get the same tea fix you get for the rest of the year; all that’s changed is the temperature.
Check out some additional tips for cold brewing here, like using a French press to steep your leaves, tips for add-ins, and other brewing shortcuts.
What are some great tea blends to cold brew?
When cold brewing, use teas that have an inherently sweet element to them since these flavors will be brought out in a mellow way. More robust or spicier teas won’t please your summertime palate the same way. To make the selection process super-simple, the Heavenly Tea Leaves team has curated an array of loose leaf iced teas; although they are also delicious hot, these blends take the spotlight as our most recommended for cold brewing and homemade iced teas, lending themselves to the best flavor and mouthfeel. Most of them boast fruity, herbaceous, tropical, and smooth ingredients that you’ll surely crave on a balmy day.
And what if you just can’t decide? We recommend Blueberry Delight, a naturally caffeine-free blend that you can feel comfortable enjoying any time of day.