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Cold Brewed Tea: Everything You Need To Know
When summer has you in its grip, the first thing you look for is a nice, tall glass of anything iced. Summers seem to be synonymous with iced tea and who are we to mess with the classics? But it seems like that’s just what we’re going to do because the next few words will turn around everything you’ve ever known about how to make a spectacular iced tea. It’s called cold-brewed tea and it takes the heat completely out of the picture. In the summer time, who could complain about that?
Cold-brewed tea is similar to cold-brewed coffee – in essence, you simply let the tea leaves sit overnight in water to get the result of a cold tea. There’s not much to the method but it results in tea that is completely different in taste compared to the tea that is brewed hot. Cold-brewed tea is usually less acidic and less caffeinated than hot-brewed tea which means that it is usually more enjoyable. The tea can be made with both tea bags and loose-leaf tea and most cold-brews will come out sweeter than their hot-brewed counterparts.
To make the tea, add one to two teaspoons of loose leaf tea or one to two tea bags to about a cup of water and three to five teaspoons or the same amount of tea bags for a litre of water. Most tea experts recommend using oolong teas or blends that are sweeter such as a strawberry mint tea loose leaf blend. The tea usually needs to sit about eight to twelve hours and is best sitting in the fridge. If you’re using high quality teas, you can even re-steep the next day and get a lighter tea flavor but just as delicious.
The time and amount of tea leaves doesn’t have to be exactly right though – cold-brews are pretty fluid in their exactness and different times and amounts will just yield you different flavors, not necessarily ruin a batch. If you find that the tea is too strong for you though, simply add more water. Remember as well that smaller leaves will infuse the water faster and with more potency compared to large or whole leaves of tea.
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Cold-brew doesn’t have to be just with tea leaves though – if you want to get really technical and fancy, consider adding fruit infusions to your tea as well. Some of the best fruit infusions for iced tea are strawberry, peach, blackberry, plum, orange, and mango. The same goes for cold-brews as well, although they might have to be tweaked a little. Most iced teas that are fruit infused have the fruit added in after the tea is brewed and the two mixtures are just combined. This can be done with cold-brewed tea as well. Start with a basic tea, such as oolong or jasmine tea, and brew it overnight. The next day, add in the fruit component and let the mix sit for a while before serving.
Alternatively, the cold-brewed tea can also be made all together. Add the tea to the water along with the fruit, just as you would for fruit-infused waters. Let it all sit together overnight. This will infuse the water with both the fruit flavor and the tea at the same time. The tea can then be strained the next day and you can add in any fruit garnish that you desire. Some great flavor combinations include black tea with strawberries and basil, chai or black tea with peaches and mint, blackberry with mint and jasmine tea, mango and orange with jasmine tea, or oolong tea with raspberries and lemon.
Above and Beyond Cold-Brewed
Cold-brewed tea can also be tweaked a little more – into ice-brewed tea, or a method called the Kouridashi method. This involves adding ice, preferably one big cube, to a glass and sprinkling a teaspoon of tea leaves over it. You then add a few tablespoons of water to get the ice melting and give it about 30 minutes to “brew” the tea. This type of tea results in very concentrated and strong tasting tea and can be infused with fruits just as the cold-brew method. Add the fruit to the cup at the same time that you start the brewing process or freeze the fruit within the ice cube to get a more spectacular effect when the tea is brewing. This process can be speeded up if you don’t have enough time to wait by adding a quarter cup of just below boiling point of water on top of the ice cube. This will help the tea to brew in a matter of ten minutes or so instead of the regular 30 minutes.
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Whichever method of cold-brewing you choose, cold tea will never be the same. Cold-brewed tea is much sweeter and more pleasant in taste than its hot-brewed and cooled counterpart as there are less tannins released during the brewing process. This ensures a tea that is less caffeinated but also less acidic. Infusing the tea with extra fruit garnishes will give you even more of a spectacular outcome and you and any guests are sure to love the combinations. If you really want to wow your guest, try the Kouridashi method of brewing. No matter the way, enjoying a cold glass of tea in the summer months is almost mandatory, so keep your kitchen cool too by cold-brewing your tea.