Making iced tea can sometimes be a little tricky. Between monitoring your infusion times and calculating the amount of ice to use, there is a lot of room for mistakes. You might find that your tea tastes on the bitter side, or you may even find it tastes weak.
Fortunately, there’s a really easy way to make the ultimate iced tea: cold brewing.
With cold brew, you don’t have to worry about infusion times, water temperature, or even ice. What’s especially nice is that you can make more quality tea for less because you don’t have to use nearly as many tea leaves either.
As an added bonus, the temperature at which the tea is brewed tends to extract some of the best flavors while minimizing the release of more bitter compounds, such as caffeine.
So how do you do it?
The following guide is created with our Phoenix Dan Cong Pomelo Flower Oolong in mind. It is an unorthodox choice for iced tea, but we find that the creaminess of this tea is accentuated by the cold brewing process, creating a nice, smooth texture on the tongue, and the floral aromatics are greatly enhanced by the cold brew process.
But keep in mind that you can use cold brew with almost any tea (though we tend to think that teas with crisper, fruitier, or floral profiles work best).
Before getting started, make sure you have on hand a pitcher with a built-in strainer, a carafe with an infuser, or (as a last resort) a paper tea bag. Something like this glass tea maker is a good place to start. It’s a nice size for personal use and doesn’t take up as much room as a larger carafe.
Step One: Fill the pitcher or carafe with cold water.
Make sure that you are not using distilled water, or else your tea will taste flat and weak. Ideally, a good spring water is best, but even purified water (as long as it retains some minerals) will work.
Step Two: If you plan on adding anything to your tea (such as honey, sugar, berries, cucumber, lemon, etc.), now is the time to do it.
I would recommend trying just a half teaspoon of spring honey and placing it in the cold water. Everything dissolves more slowly in cold water, including the honey, and so you’ll want to wait until this happens before adding your tea. With the honey, for example, you may want to give it about 5 to 10 minutes and a few stirs.
Pro Tip: If you’re using glassware, be careful with your utensils. Metal utensils can cause micro-cracks, damaging your glassware without realizing it until it seems to spontaneously break one day. Always try to use wooden utensils with glass. This is also something to keep in mind when cleaning your glassware. Whether it’s the sink or the dishwasher, try to keep them away from harder materials (glass, metal, ceramic, etc.) to prevent micro-cracking.
Step Three: Weigh your tea leaves.
Because the extraction time will take a while and you’ll be using your tea leaves just once for this, you can use fewer leaves to make more tea. With success, I have used 5 grams of tea leaves to as much as 16 ounces of water. As a guideline, consider 2.5 to 4 grams for every 8 ounces of water.
When you are ready, place your tea leaves in the infuser or tea bag, and then place them in your pitcher or carafe.
Step Four: With your tea leaves now resting in the cold water, place your carafe in the refrigerator overnight.
In about 8 to 12 hours, your tea will be ready!
Pro Tip: It is good practice to sip the tea before dispensing your leaves to make sure it has the desired flavor. If it does not taste flavorful enough, then you will want to give it another 3 to 4 hours, but do not let them cold steep for more than 24 hours total. If it still tastes weak, then you will want to take note and adjust your recipe by adding more leaves next time.
There’s no question about it. Using the cold brew method to make iced tea is not only convenient but also makes one fine cup of tea. If you’re looking for something refreshing, smooth, and even sweet to quench your thirst in that humid summer heat, then look no further than cold brew iced tea!