Cold-brewing tea is like making overnight oats. The magic happens while you’re asleep. You combine your ingredients the night before and – voilà – in the morning you wake up to something delicious. Minimum effort, maximum results.
Like coffee, cold-brewing tea can lead to a brighter, more complex flavor than hot brewed teas. The traditional method of making iced tea (by brewing hot tea and chilling it down in the fridge) can lead to a drink that tastes like cold, stale tea. Cold brew tea creates a full-bodied flavor that is much crisper and cleaner, meant to cool you down like a breeze. It’s very easy to make and never bitter, so you won’t need any sugar or sweetener!
How to Cold Brew Iced Tea
The principles are simple: cold brew approximately 4 tea bags for every 3 cups of water used, and refrigerate 8-10 hours, or overnight, for best flavor. Give the tea bags a good squeeze before discarding to capture the most flavorful tea. Read on to discover my five favorite teas for cold-brewing and how to “upgrade” them with infusions of fresh fruit or veggies for the ultimate refreshing flavor experience.
1. Gunpowder Green tea.
Gunpowder Green tea is perfect for cold-brewing due to its strong flavor, with no risk of bitterness. Let this tea sit at room temp for 20 minutes before refrigerating. This step encourages the tightly rolled tea leaves to open up and brew more evenly. If using loose-leaf, you can re-steep the same tea leaves twice for a second batch of tea.
Infuse it with: celery and cucumber. I added 1 small stalk of celery, diced, and 1 small Persian cucumber, peeled and diced, right before transferring my pitcher to the refrigerator. As the tea steeps, the veggies will infuse it, adding another layer of flavor. You can experiment and add the veggies after removing the tea leaves, if you prefer. The subtle smokiness of the green tea pairs beautifully with the clean and crisp notes of celery and cucumber. So refreshing!
2. Aged Earl Grey tea.
The bergamot and citrus in Aged Earl Grey really shine when cold-brewed. Black tea is also perfect to cold brew to make sweet tea, Arnold palmers, or other classic iced tea recipes. Brew an extra tea bag if you like black tea with a full flavor.
Infuse it with: fresh ripe apricots. I added 3 small apricots, sliced, right before transferring my pitcher to the refrigerator. As the tea steeps, the fruit will infuse it. You can experiment and add the apricots after removing the tea leaves/tea bags, if you prefer, or blend them with the cold brewed tea to create a simple but delicious smoothie. The floral bergamot notes pair perfectly with the sweetness of the ripe apricots. Yum!
3. Turmeric Three Roots tea.
If you like an earthy, slightly sweet tea, then Turmeric Three Roots is for you! The licorice root in this blend creates a natural sweetness that is stronger when cold-brewed than hot. This is a flavorful blend that will hold up well with ice. Be sure to squeeze tea bags before removing and discarding to really get the sweet flavor of the licorice root.
Infuse it with: fresh ripe strawberries. I added 1 cup strawberries, hulled and sliced, right before transferring my pitcher to the refrigerator. As the tea steeps, the fruit will infuse it. You can experiment and add the strawberries after removing the tea bags, if you prefer. The spicy notes of turmeric and ginger combined with the sweetness of strawberries will have you craving for more!
4. Honeybush tea.
The light, naturally sweet flavor of Honeybush tea (a cousin to popular Rooibos tea) is possibly better cold-brewed than it is hot! It brews into a lovely rosy color that will look perfect on your back patio.
Infuse it with: fresh peaches. I added 1 small yellow peach, diced, before refrigerating. Feel free to experiment, as with the other teas above. This great combination, sweet and aromatic, is the perfect summer beverage to keep you happy and hydrated!
5. Ceremonial Matcha.
Surprisingly, matcha green tea can be cold brewed too. It doesn’t take as long as other teas because the tea powder dissolves instantly and it’s better enjoyed immediately. In a mason jar combine 2 cups ice-cold water with one teaspoon Ceremonial Matcha, screw the lid on tightly and shake well (or blend). Serve over ice, if you like. I don’t recommend infusing it with fruit or vegetables (because you don’t want to let it sit too long), but you could use it as the base for a delicious smoothie! Enjoy its savory taste and lingering sweetness and have fun discovering your favorite flavor combination!
Please note, steeping tea in freshly boiled water is an important food safety step. If you are concerned about this, we recommend consulting your healthcare provider to determine if cold brew is right for you.