Cold Brew Tea: Everything You Need to Know (And How to Make It at Home)

pitcher and glasses of cold brew tea

Cold brew tea has gained recent popularity in the US as a different approach than hot tea or traditional iced tea. Although cold brewing is a slower process, it allows the tea leaves to release more of their flavors while producing a smoother, less astringent taste. Below, you will find everything you need to know about cold brew tea! 

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What is Cold Brew Tea?

Cold brew tea is a method of brewing tea using cold water instead of hot water. 

The tea leaves are steeped in cold water for an extended period of time, typically several hours or overnight, to extract their flavor. The tea leaves are then removed from the water, and the resulting liquid is a concentrated form of tea. 

Cold brew tea is known for its smooth, less bitter taste and is often preferred as a refreshing alternative to traditional hot or iced tea.

What is the history of Cold Brew Tea?

The history of cold-brew tea is not well documented, but it is likely that the practice of cold-brewing tea has been around for centuries. 

Cold brewing is a traditional method of brewing tea in cultures such as Japan, where it is known as “mizudashi” or “water-cooled” tea.

In Japan, cold brewing is typically done with green tea, and the process is considered a way to bring out the delicate flavors and aromas of the tea leaves without the bitterness that can result from hot brewing.

What is the difference between Cold Brew Tea and Iced Tea?

The two main differences between cold brew tea and iced tea are the actual brewing method and the resulting taste of the brew. 

Cold brew tea is made by steeping tea leaves right in cold water over the course of several hours or even overnight. The tea leaves can then be strained and sweeteners can be added to taste. 

Iced tea, on the other hand, is made by traditionally steeping the tea leaves in hot water, and then immediately and quickly cooling the tea down by putting it in the refrigerator and/or pouring it over ice. 

While iced tea is a much faster process than cold brewing, it typically results in a more bitter taste, due to the high temperature of the steeping water. Furthermore, iced tea is often watered down with melted ice. Cold brew tea typically has a smooth, less astringent taste.

Can you Cold Brew any type of tea?

Technically speaking, you can cold brew almost any type of tea. However, there are some teas that are better suited for cold brewing than others. 

For example, more delicate teas such as white or green teas are great candidates for cold brew, as the leaves are given plenty of time to slowly unfurl and release all of their flavors without the risk of being scorched by hot steeping temperatures. The result is typically a clean, refreshing, non-bitter, and well-balanced taste. 

While black teas are often commonly cold brewed, their bold and robust flavors can sometimes come across as too strong or bitter if left to brew for too long. Many black tea cold brew drinkers prefer to add some milk and/or sweeteners to lighten the taste. 

Since Puerh tea is a fermented tea, it contains live bacteria and microorganisms. When you traditionally make Puerh tea, the steeping process with boiling water kills the microorganisms. Therefore, it is best to quickly rinse the Puerh leaves with boiling water for a few seconds, before moving forward with the typical cold brewing process. 

We should also note that it is recommended to do a quick hot water rinse with white tea leaves and any herbs or flowers, as they lack the processing that typically kills any bacteria. 

How much tea should you use to make Cold Brew Tea?

Generally speaking, the best ratio of water to tea for cold brewing is about 1.5 tablespoons of loose-leaf tea (or 1 tea sachet) for every 8 ounces of water used. 

The amount of tea leaves you should use to make cold brew tea will vary depending on your personal taste. For example, if you prefer a stronger brew, it is recommended to use more tea leaves, rather than steeping it for a longer period of time. 

You may find that doing a bit of experimental trial and error will help you find the exact tea-to-water ratio you like best. Don’t be afraid to try the same drink multiple times, made slightly differently each time. 

Can you reheat Cold-Brewed Tea?

While it is technically possible to reheat cold-brewed tea, it is not recommended, as the process of reheating can change both the flavor and the taste of the tea. 

Reheating can cause the tea to become bitter, and the delicate flavors and aromas that were present in the cold brew may be lost.

Additionally, reheating can cause the tea to lose some of its antioxidants and beneficial compounds, which are more stable at lower temperatures.

It’s worth noting that cold-brewed tea is meant to be consumed chilled or over ice and is not intended to be reheated. If you are looking for a hot tea beverage, it is best to brew a fresh cup of warm tea. 

How do you store Cold Brew Tea properly?

The best way to store cold brew tea is in a clean, airtight, glass container in the refrigerator. This could be a glass mason jar with a screw-top lid, a large glass pitcher with a sealed lid, or a glass bottle with a lid.

We recommend avoiding plastic containers, as they are more prone to staining and retaining previous odors, which could affect the flavor of your cold brew. 

How long does Cold Brew Tea last?

Cold brew tea has a shelf life of 2-4 days when stored correctly in the refrigerator.

Factors such as the type of tea, brewing method, and storage conditions can affect its shelf life, but it’s recommended to consume it within 2-4 days for optimal quality and taste. 

It is important to make sure the container is clean, and the tea is stored in a cool and dark place, (the refrigerator), to prevent spoilage. 

Additionally, it’s always recommended to check the tea’s appearance, and aroma before consuming it, to ensure its quality. If it has an off smell or appears cloudy, it is best to discard it and make a fresh batch.

Can you add sweeteners or milk to Cold Brew Tea?

Yes, you can add milk or sweeteners to cold brew tea. 

It is important to note that adding milk or sweeteners can change the flavor and texture of the tea, and how much you use either is a matter of personal preference.

Adding milk to cold brew tea can create a creamy and rich taste, and is particularly popular when making cold brew tea lattes. Milk can be added to cold brew tea in various forms such as whole milk, almond milk, oat milk, soy milk, or any other plant-based milk.

When it comes to sweeteners, you can add sugar, honey, or any other sweeteners of your choice to cold brew tea. We recommend trying simple syrup, which dissolves beautifully in cold brew. You can follow our guide to make your own simple syrup at home

Some sweeteners can mask some of the natural flavors of the tea. It’s recommended to start with a small amount and adjust to your preference.

Keep in mind that cold brew tea typically has a smoother and less bitter taste compared to traditional hot brewed tea, and it may not need any additional sweeteners.

What do you need to make Cold Brew Tea?

Cold brew tea is an easy beverage to make at home, and is quite beginner-friendly, as you don’t need many tools to make it! 

To make cold brew tea, you will need the following items:

Loose Tea Leaves

Using loose tea leaves really will give you the best tea-drinking experience. By letting loose leaves steep in the boiled water, they have room to unfurl and release all of their natural aromas. If you don’t know where to start, a loose-leaf tea sampler is a great option!

Spring Water or Filtered Water

To get the best flavors from your tea, use high-quality water. Don’t use tap water or distilled water!

Glass Container with a lid

This can be a glass pitcher with a lid or a glass mason jar with a lid, etc.

Fine Mesh Strainer

This will help you strain the tea leaves before serving. You can also use a pitcher with a built-in strainer.

Ice (optional)

This one is up to you! If you prefer to add some ice to your drink, go for it!

Tea Scoop (optional)

While not required, this is the perfect tool to help you get the perfectly measured scoop of tea leaves every single time. You won’t regret adding this to your tea arsenal!

How do you make Cold Brew Tea properly?

Follow the steps outlined below to make cold brew tea at home:

Step 1: Measure out the tea leaves

Typically 1.5 teaspoons (or one tea sachet) for every 8 ounces of water used. If you want a stronger brew, play around with adding more tea leaves.

Step 2: Place tea leaves into your glass container

Step 3: Add cold, filtered water to the glass container

Step 4: Stir the tea leaves so that they are fully submerged in the water

Step 5: Seal your glass container with a lid, and place it in the refrigerator

Step 6: Allow the tea to steep for several hours or overnight

Reference the recommended times for each particular type of tea.

Step 7: Strain tea leaves with a fine mesh strainer

If you used a glass pitcher with an integrated strainer, you can simply decant your cold brew tea into a serving pitcher or straight into glasses.

Step 8: Add any ice, milk, or sweeteners, if desired.

Step 9: Serve and enjoy!

In conclusion, cold brew tea is a refreshing alternative to traditional hot tea, and a great way to enjoy the benefits of tea, while experimenting with different flavors and aromas. Whether you’re a tea connoisseur or a casual drinker, cold brew tea is an easy and delicious way to enjoy tea all year round.

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