(Photo: A flight of cold brewed teas at 串門子茶館Stop By Tea House! in Taipei)
85% of tea consumed in the United States is consumed cold. Iced Tea, sweet tea, and bottled tea beverages are popular and refreshing; and the tastiest varieties are generally home made.
While icing hot-brewed tea is the traditional method, slow-brewed sun tea is also popular. Superior to (and easier than) both of these methods is cold brewing tea.
Using cold water to extract the flavors of tea yields a smoother, sweeter cup that shows off the fruity, floral and savory flavors of tea without producing the bitter, tannic finish that is brought out by hot steeping. Moreover, while sun brewing can foster unhealthy bacterial growth in tea, cold-steeping in the refrigerator is quite hygienic.
Cold Brewing Method
The equipment is simple, the method easy. Use approximately 6 grams of leaf tea (about 1 TBSP for dense teas ball-style Oolongs, 2-3 TBSP for strip-style reds and open leaf teas like Oriental Beauty) for every quart of cold water and brew from 4 hours to over night. There are a large variety of cold tea brewers available on the market, but any container with a lid will serve well. We often use a two-quart mason jar.
Over-brewing doesn't yield bitter or over-saturated flavors, so there's really no need to remove the leaves. And generally, you can get more than one steeping, though the subsequent brew will be lighter.
Because cold brewing brings out the finer, more subtle flavors of tea, it's perfect for making delicious cold teas from greens and oolongs and whites.
Cold brewed high-mountain formosa Oolong on a hot summer's day? Perfect.