Three clear glasses of iced tea with lemon slices and mint leaves

Discovering Cold Brew Tea: A Refreshing Twist on Tradition

Michele Lillie

In the world of tea, innovation and tradition often blend as seamlessly as the subtle flavors of a well-steeped brew. Among the delightful outcomes of this blend is cold brew tea, a method that steeps tea leaves in cold water over an extended period. This technique offers a unique twist on traditional hot tea brewing methods, catering to a wide range of palates and preferences. Let's delve into what cold brew tea is, how to make it yourself, and the advantages and disadvantages of this brewing method.

What is Cold Brew Tea?

Cold-brew tea, in essence, is tea steeped in cold water for several hours or overnight. This process gradually extracts the flavors, colors, and nutrients from the tea leaves, resulting in a brew that is often more subtle and nuanced than its hot-brewed counterpart. It's ideal for those looking to enjoy their favorite teas with a refreshing twist, especially during the warmer months.

Advantages of Cold Brew Tea

  • Smooth Flavor: Tea brewed in hot water releases tannins, which can make the tea bitter and sometimes produce cloudiness. Cold brewing does not release tannins, resulting in a smoother and sweeter cup of iced tea.

  • Less Caffeine: Because hot water helps to extract caffeine from the tea leaves, cold brew tea typically contains less caffeine than hot tea.

  • Convenience: Once prepared, cold-brew tea can be stored in the refrigerator for several days, offering a refreshing and healthy beverage on demand. Cold-brew tea is also great for an on-the-go option. Put the tea leaves in your preferred water bottle and allow it to brew as you are on your way.

  • Versatility: This method allows for creative flavor combinations and is suitable for a wide range of teas.

  • Ease: This method is incredibly easy. Just put your tea leaves in any container, add cold or room-temperature water, let it sit for a few hours, strain, and enjoy.
Clear glass full of iced tea with ice cubes being dropped into the glass with tea splashing out.

Disadvantages of Cold Brew Tea

  • Time-Consuming: The slow extraction process requires planning ahead, as it takes several hours to achieve the desired flavor.

  • Subtlety of Flavor: Some tea enthusiasts may find cold brew teas too mild or lacking the robust flavors that hot water extraction can offer.

How to Make Cold Brew Tea

Making cold brew tea is simple and requires minimal equipment. Here's a basic guide to get you started.

  1. Choose Your Tea: Almost any tea can be cold brewed, from classic black and green teas to herbal blends. Feel free to experiment with different types and blends to find your favorite. Please be aware that herbal and fruit ingredients do not go through the same high-heat processing step as teas, which kills bacteria. So, it is good practice to rinse them in hot water before proceeding with your cold brew.

  2. Proportion: There is much variation in recommendations on how much tea to use. A general guideline is to use 1 to 2 tablespoons of loose-leaf tea for every quart of water. This ratio can be adjusted based on your preference for strength.

  3. Prepare: Place the tea in a clean jar or pitcher. Pour cold or room temperature water over the leaves, ensuring they are fully submerged.

  4. Steep: Cover the container and let it steep. The steeping time can vary depending on the type of tea and personal taste preferences. For lighter teas, use less time, and for darker teas, use more time. This can vary from 30 minutes to an hour at room temperature to several hours or overnight in the refrigerator. The first time you cold brew a new tea, taste it every hour to find your perfect brew. Try resteeping your tea leaves for another delicious pitcher of tea.

  5. Strain: Once the tea has steeped to your liking, strain it to remove the tea leaves. Your cold brew tea is now ready to enjoy. It can be served as is or over ice.

  6. Sun Tea: Avoid traditional sun tea. Scientists and doctors now discourage it because it allows bacteria to thrive and multiply in a warm environment.

  7. Sweetening cold brew tea: Sweetening cold tea is easier by using a simple syrup made of equal parts sugar and water as it dissolves much easier than granulated sugar.

  8. Make your own flavors: Make a new taste experience by adding fruits, herbs and spices at the start of the brewing and letting them infuse with the tea. You can strain the fruit out or rinse them and add them back to the finished tea. Alternatively, cut new fruit and add it to your finished brew.

  9. Ice brewing: Bon Appetit popularized a Japanese method of cold brew using ice. With this technique, the tea brews as a big block of ice melts. Put a large ice cube into a cocktail glass. Drizzle a few drops of water on the ice cube to start the melting. Add one to two teaspoons of tea leaves into the cup and let it steep for 20 to 30 minutes. Strain out the tea leaves and drink. You end up with a small amount of very flavorful iced tea. An alternative method is to put three ice cubes in the glass and add about ¼ cup of water that is just below boiling. Add between one to two teaspoons of tea leaves, and let that steep for about six minutes. Strain and enjoy.


Cold brew tea represents a harmonious blend of tradition and innovation, offering a refreshing alternative to hot tea that is both delicious and easy to make. While it has advantages, such as a smoother taste and convenience, it also comes with drawbacks, like the longer brewing time and potentially milder flavor. Ultimately, whether cold brew tea is the right choice depends on your preferences and lifestyle. We encourage you to experiment with different teas and brewing times to find your perfect cold brew match. Remember, the journey of tea discovery is as rewarding as the destination itself. Cheers to your health and happiness, one sip at a time!

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