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How to Make Proper Iced Tea (2 of 5) - Cold Brew Method

Over the years we have become increasingly excited about iced tea and the unique refreshment and versatility it provides. In the summer months we serve it by the gallon from the van at festivals across the UK, so now we want to show you how easy it is to make at home. Over our 5 part series ‘How to Make Proper Iced Tea’, we’ll be sharing our tips and tricks for how to make delicious iced tea, from brewing the tea to the question of sugar, building a drink to what you’ll need to get started. By the end of the series, you’ll have mastered the basics and be ready to get creative - plus we'll be sharing our own recipes with you every week, all summer long.  

Getting started

It goes without saying that you'll need good quality, whole leaf tea - after all your iced tea can only be as delicious as the tea you use as the base. However, how you choose to brew it - that is whether you use hot or cold water to infuse the tea - will also play an important role in the flavour of the final product. 

Here we’ll be focusing on the benefits of preparing your tea using the Cold Brew method. Getting the tea right is an essential starting point for delicious iced tea and while hot-brewing is no doubt the fastest way to make an iced tea of any leaf, cold-brewing results in a smoother, more delicate infusion, bringing out more of the floral notes and natural sweetness.  

What is cold brewing?

Cold brewing is simply using cold, filtered water instead of hot water to brew your tea, a process that can take between 8 - 12 hours. This much slower infusion tends to extract the most distinct flavours of the tea, such as the floral and fruity notes, without the stronger, more astringent flavour compounds that hot water pulls out.

RELATED: How To Make Proper Iced Tea - Hot Brew Method

What are the benefits of cold brewing?

While cold brew might take a little forward planning, we’re big fans of cold-brewing. For a start, it is already chilled, so you won’t need to wait for it to cool or need a freezer-load of ice to flash-chill it before drinking. In fact, you don’t even need ice in the glass as the cold brew can be served chilled straight from the fridge. It is also particularly much easier to prepare when you’re brewing a bigger batch for friends as you won’t need to handle large volumes of hot water! This slow extraction even results in more sparkle and clarity in the glass, as the tannins that, when cooled, can make a hot-brewed tea go cloudy, are not extracted using this cold brew method. Finally and perhaps most importantly, the tea itself will be smoother and more delicate than a hot-brewed tea, as well as naturally sweet, having pulled out the floral, fruity and more herbaceous flavours. This makes cold brewing a great option for an unsweetened iced tea, served straight up or with a simple fruit or herb garnish.

Which teas are best for cold-brewing?

Most teas will produce a smooth, clean iced tea when cold-brewed, assuming you are using flavoursome, good quality leaves in the first place. However, teas with floral characters are particularly well suited to this slower extraction, which tends to enhance those aromatic and fragrant notes. Aromatic black teas such as Darjeeling are wonderful cold-brewed, good oolongs produce honey-sweet, distinctly fruity infusions and green teas, in particular Japanese greens, can yield unexpectedly rich infusions, with fresh, vegetal notes and hints of melon.

Note: 

White and Herbal teas work beautifully cold-brewed, but they aren’t heated during processing so you’ll need to give them a quick ‘hot wash’ with boiling water before infusing to kill any possible bacteria. Before you add them to your bottle, simply place your tea leaves or bags in an infuser or sieve and rinse briefly under boiling water.

How to Cold Brew Tea

For the cold brew method, you’ll need a little more tea than you would use for a hot tea in order to get enough flavour in the tea. Every tea will perform a little differently but it’s hard to go too far wrong with cold-brewing, so experiment a little with your time and ratios.

1. Measure your tea leaves or tea bags into a clean, lidded bottle using around 4 or 5 heaped teaspoons (10 - 12g) or 4 teabags per litre of water

2. Add cold, filtered water, replace the lid and invert the bottle once to submerge the leaves

3. Place the bottle in the fridge for 10 to 12 hours, or overnight

Once you’re happy with the taste, strain the leaves or remove the tea bags & enjoy!

Keep any leftover tea in a lidded bottle in the fridge for up to 3 days.