Hey, What’s Cookin’?
Summer means we are thirsty almost ALL the time! Either we’re parched from the heat outside, or we’re dehydrated from the air conditioning inside. Water is the best and most efficient way to rehydrate. But what about that need to chug something cold with some FLAVOR? The answer is cold-brewed tea!
Traditional iced tea is made by steeping tea in boiled water and then chilling it. There’s also a hippy-dippy version called “Sun Tea” in which tea bags are placed in a gallon jar of water and left out in the hot sun for hours and hours to brew “naturally.” 😛
Cold-brewed tea is steeped for 24 hours in cold water, in the refrigerator.
You may be thinking, “But the end product is the same regardless of how you make it–right?” No, that couldn’t be more wrong!
When you steep tea in boiled water, you extract a greater amount of tannins, which turn the tea bitter. When hot-steeped tea is then chilled, that bitterness grows even stronger. That heat-steeped tea is likely to taste acidic and leave you with a dry mouth.
(As an aside, that’s why full-bodied, aged red wines are never served chilled–the exacerbated bitterness from the tannins would render the wine unpalatable! Sangria, a drink based on chilled red wine, calls for a young, fruity, naturally low-tannin red wine).
But by steeping tea in cold water, fewer tannins are released and the resulting tea is smoother and sweeter than the hot-brewed version. The taste is so much more pleasant that chances are very good that you will not need any sweetener at all!
Make Your Own Cold-Brew Flavor Combos
So what kinds of tea can you cold-brew? ALL KINDS!! Yep, that means black, green, white, and herbal teas. You can use all of the same variety or you can have a great time mixing types and flavors. Try black tea + tangerine herbal, or white tea + mint herbal.
If you plan on drinking a lot of tea, take caffeine into account when you brew a batch. While black, green, and white tea all contain varying amounts of caffeine, herbal teas are caffeine-free.
A great addition to cold-brewed teas is sliced fresh fruit or a small amount of fruit juice. Citrus fruits (orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit) or berries (blackberry, raspberry) will add a whole new dimension to your concoction. Steer clear of tropical fruits such as pineapple & mango–they are delicious but high in sugar. You can also just enjoy the subtle flavors of the tea without adding any fruit.
Fresh herbs can make a good drink extraordinary. Try freshly picked and washed mint, lemon verbena, lemon balm, thyme, or lavender–to name a few! Crush the leaves between your fingers before dropping them in your drink.
How many tea bags do you need for 2 quarts of cold-brewed tea? 10 tea bags produces a decently strong, flavorful tea; try that number first and increase/decrease to get the result you want. It’s really a matter of personal taste. You can also use loose tea, but it’s harder and messier to strain 2 quarts of tea than it is to fish out the spent tea bags (and no, you cannot use your fingers!) Loose or bagged teas–it’s your choice.
If you reallyreallyreally need a bit of sweetening in your tea, use plant-based sweeteners such as stevia or monkfruit. Liquid drops will blend more readily with the tea than the granulated forms.
Cold-Brewed Tea — Citrus Green Tea Version
Here’s a particularly delicious cold-brewed tea for you to try. Green tea is especially good for you!
Adapted from: a recipe by savoryonline.com
Makes: a bit more than 2 quarts
- 2 quarts cold, filtered water (chlorinated tap water is a no)
- 10 bags of green tea; any strings snipped off
- 1 orange
- 1 lemon
- 1 lime
- mint leaves for garnish (optional)
- plant-based sweetener, such as stevia or monkfruit, in drop form (optional)
- Add 2 quarts cold, filtered water to a pitcher. Add 10 bags of green tea to the water and stir. Cover the pitcher and place in the refrigerator overnight.
- After 24 hours, remove the pitcher from the refrigerator. Use 2 spoons to scoop out the teabags; press the bags between the spoons to extract all the liquid.
- Juice the orange, lemon, and lime into a bowl. Strain the juices through a fine mesh strainer into the tea and stir. Or cut the fruit in slices and drop in the pitcher/glasses (the citrus flavor will not be nearly as pronounced, however).
- Pour tea into glasses, garnish with mint leaves (optional) and serve! Add plant-based sweetener if you need it.
Notes: To make a gallon of tea, simply use a gallon pitcher and double the ingredients. Add 2 extra teabags “for the pot,” as they say…
Photograph via savoryonline.com