How to Cold Brew Tea: The Best Method for Making Iced Tea | The Rising Spoon

Monday, August 12, 2013

How to Cold Brew Tea: The Best Method for Making Iced Tea

How to Cold Brew Tea: The Best Method for Making Iced Tea
I deserve a gentle, self-inflicted wallop on the head. Why? I just made cold brew tea for the first time. Seriously. I love tea. My friends know I love it, as does my family. Which makes me feel every bit more ridiculous. 

Up until last week, whenever I thirsted for iced tea, I went through the motions of heating up boiling water on the stove-top, seeping my tea (bags or loose leaf) for 3-5 minutes, letting it cool off, then sticking it in the fridge to chill overnight. Complicated much? Indeed.

Cold Brew Tea: An Effortless Method For Making Iced Tea

Fortunately, I stumbled upon a dead simple technique for making iced tea: cold brew. You might call it the lazy man's tea. And though it hardly takes any effort, it tastes as smooth and flavorful as any tea lovingly brewed on the stove top. Perhaps even better. Cold brew is gentle on the tea leaves, which takes away any chance of bitterness. Nobody likes bitter tea, right?

Or iced coffee, for that matter. Which is why I now make my own homemade cold brew coffee (it's fabulous, ridiculously simple & saves you so much money if you're buying the fancy bottled stuff). 

And there's no need to buy expensive "cold brew" tea bags from the store. The only discernible difference between the two (regular and those marketed as cold brew by tea companies) is the size of the leaves. Presumably, cold brew leaves are finer, which makes them steep faster. I don't know about you, but if I want my iced tea instant, I make it hot on the spot then pour it over a tall glass filled to the brim with ice cubes.

Use Whatever Tea You Have On Hand

Regular tea bags work marvelously, as does loose leaf. However, you might need to steep the loose leaf tea several hours more to achieve a stronger flavor. It ultimately depends on your taste. Take a sip and if you want a bolder flavor, leave it in the fridge for several more hours--even a day longer. 

Personally, I sampled my organic black tea after six hours of seeping and it was perfectly drinkable. Twenty-four hours later it was even better. 

I can't wait to start experimenting with tea combinations like hibiscus (the popular ingredient in Starbucks' passionfruit tea) and green tea or mixing in fresh fruit like blueberriescherries, strawberries, or watermelon

Or even making an Arnold Palmer with half cold brew tea and half homemade pink lemonade! And, of course, mint leaves and lemon slices are classic additions.

P.S. Want to learn how to make more homemade pantry staples like this cold brew tea? Check out my How-Tos (Cooking) Archives for recipes & cooking tips! 

How to Cold Brew Tea: The Best Method for Making Iced Tea

How to Cold Brew Tea

The simplest and possibly tastiest way to make iced tea all year long. Because the cold water is gentler on the leaves, there is less chance for bitterness. Nobody likes bitter tea, right?
Yield: 2 1/2 quarts (double this to make a gallon)

2 1/2 quarts (80 ounces) of purified water (I recommend reverse osmosis)
4-5 tea bags OR 3-5+ tablespoons of loose leaf tea (like black tea, hibiscus tea (pink, citrusy & super refreshing), or green tea)

Mix-ins (optional):
-muddled fresh herbs (mint, rosemary, basil, etc.)
-fresh citrus slices (lemon, lime, orange, etc.)
-fresh fruit, sliced (blueberries, strawberries, cherries, raspberries, etc.)
-fresh ginger, thinly sliced

Recommended Equipment
glass dispenser with lid or glass jug with lid
fine mesh strainer (if using loose leaf tea)
biodegradable paper straws (optional)

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Combine the purified water and tea bags or leaves in a large glass container with a lid (to keep fridge odors out). If you don't have a lid for your container, cover it with foil, plastic wrap, or a clean kitchen towel secured with a rubber band.

If desired, add in muddled herbs, sliced fruits or ginger to the tea before covering. They will impart a light flavor to the tea, which helps if you don't want to add sweeteners.

Steep in the fridge for as little as 6 hours, but I liked it even better overnight and at 24 hours. Some teas with larger leaves (such as green tea) or milder loose leaf teas may need to steep for 24-48 hours to achieve a bolder flavor. 

Taste the tea at intervals and drink it when it has reached your desired strength. Once it has, take out the tea bags or remove the tea leaves using a fine mesh strainer.

To sweeten the tea, dissolve a bit of your favorite sweetener in a few tablespoons of room temperature water and mix into your glass before drinking.

Notes & Tips
  • It's really important that you use the cleanest water possible. Gross tasting tap water will make gross tasting tea. Water is of the utmost importance. Because I don't have a water filter in my apartment, I refill gallon jugs with reverse osmosis water at my local health food store for 25 cents a gallon.

I'd like to hear from YOU!

What's your favorite type of tea to drink iced? Do you have any favorite add-ins like lemon, fresh mint, or sliced fruit?

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How to Cold Brew Tea: The Best Method for Making Iced Tea

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