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Cold Brew Tea Tips?


Richard Kilgore
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Wholemeal Crank reported on a cold brew experiment in a recent post. I have also begun trying a little cold brewing and have a few questions.

Have you found any teas that work particularly well?

Any that are a disaster?

What type of container do you use to cold brew?

Is it possible to over-brew?

Any other tips?

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This is timely!

We've been having unusually hot weather this week, so this morning at work I put a couple jasmine green teabags in a plastic water bottle, poured cold filtered water on it, shoved it in the office fridge. It's been in there for about 3 hrs, I'm hoping it'll be ready in the afternoon when it starts to get really hot.

A former co-worker used to brew gyokuro and sencha this way. She left it in the fridge overnight, and it wasn't bitter or oversteeped at all.

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My personal experience with cold brew has been a lighter cleaner flavor. Maybe even a little flat? I do enjoy it when I am doing iced tea with fresh fruit cut up in it like peaches or plums as their flavor does not get muddied.

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When I cold brew, I hit the leaves to cover with a little hot water, to open them up. Then I top the container with cold water and stick it in the fridge until it gets cold. You never seem to get a strong tannic taste this way. I use the same amount of leaves I'd use for a hot brew.

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I drink gallons of cold brewed iced tea in the summer.

I mostly use the Trader Joe's Mango Black Tea, occasionally Earl Grey - 8 bags in a half gallon jar, fill it with water and put it in the fridge overnight.

I pull the bags out when I pour the first glass. I like it straight on ice, no sugar or lemon.

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For brewing western style, low leaf-to-water ratio?

Ah, I'd have to go measure, but I don't think so. Usually two or three tablespoons of leaves to the container; I'm not sure what its capacity is. Probably...500ml? I brew "grandpa-style", and refill several times.

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My usual method is 3 or 4 bags of ahmad black tea with cardamom in a gallon of cool water, put in the fridge before bed. It's ready by morning- I don't bother taking the bags out and I don't find it gets bitter, even when I drink it in the evening. Not that that's a problem in this weather, since the gallon is usually gone around lunch!

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It looks like people have two approaches to cold brewing. One is to steep the leaves in the frig for 8 hours;the other is to use a higher leaf:water ratio and steep long enough in the frig for it to get cold, and then re-steep several times (grandpa style). Some people start with cold water and some start with a little hot water to open the leaves more quickly. Do I have this right?

A few minutes ago I started some of the Ceylon Vithanakanda Estate, Extra Special cold brewing for 8 hours. I'll report back.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Much joy: I just discovered that I can enjoy cold tea. Not quite iced, in this trial, but cold. It was 100 degrees today and I was not enjoying my hot tea as much....

I started with some nice Alishan Oolong. I put the dry leaf in my cup, added cold water from the tap, and put it in the fridge for about 6 hours.

Then I drank it, and it was good!

I think the key was the quantity: instead of using more tea per volume of water than I would normally for hot tea, as I've often seen suggested, I actually used the same, but it seemed like less.

For a 16 oz cup, I used the amount of tea I would normally use for my 2 oz gaiwan, about 1 gram, keeping in mind that this particularly lovely tea will easily yield 8-10 infusions from that quantity in the gaiwan (making a total of 16-20 oz of hot tea). So I used the same amount of tea that I would use to make that volume of hot tea, but since it was not done gongfu style and was brewed in the cup, it looked like a lot less.

Happy camper, me!

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  • 4 weeks later...

I love the ahmed cardamom, I am going to have to try it iced. I use to take tea bags, one tea bag per 12 oz bottle of water. Just stick the bag in the bottle water and leave it there until I wanted it the next day. Sometimes I would do 10 bottles at a time that way and have my iced tea for a couple days that way.

"I eat fat back, because bacon is too lean"

-overheard from a 105 year old man

"The only time to eat diet food is while waiting for the steak to cook" - Julia Child

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  • 3 weeks later...

I've never had much luck cold-brewing tea. I like my iced tea very strong, so putting the normal amount and leaving it for a long time doesn't brew to my liking. I have tried adding extra as well, but I only had tea bags, and it seems like adding extra bags doesn't help.

The best results I've had are hot-brewing the tea and then chilling in the refrigerator overnight. This makes the tea as strong as I want it, as well as getting it to the desired temperature. I always brew double-strength when I do this.

From the discussion here, it looks like some people are cold-brewing with the loose leaf tea instead of bags. If I were to cut the bags open and try cold-brewing that way, would it work better? Everybody I know that likes iced tea uses the same hot-brew and chill method that I do, so I don't have much experience with actual cold-brewing.

Are there advantages to cold-brewing that I'm missing out on using my method?

"...which usually means underflavored, undersalted modern French cooking hidden under edible flowers and Mexican fruits."

- Jeffrey Steingarten, in reference to "California Cuisine".

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  • 4 weeks later...

Another successful cold brew experiment: Silver Dragon white tea (from Wing Hop Fung) and Yunnan Mao Feng green tea (from Norbu) brewed up cold overnight. Put a relatively small amount in a teacup-with-infuser, and left in the refrigerator overnight. This morning, cold and tasty tea. I think the Mao Feng works better this way.

Based on prior sad experience, the keys for me are

•going light on the leaf

•cold brewing the whole way

•selection of the right tea

And if the hot weather stays around, I'll be trying some more. Fortunately, I've got a lot of the Mao Feng.

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Last night drank a cup of the Mao Feng that I'd prepped several days ago, and not had the right moment to drink yet. It just steeped three days in the fridge. It was still quite nice. Not as fabulous as the same tea hot in my thermos a few days ago, when I made a particularly perfect batch, but still, delicious. Amazing.

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