Now that summer is here, iced-tea season has arrived, but which style of brewing is better? Cold brew or Hot brewed iced-teas? In this topic, Lubna will explore the differences between the two, how it impacts the flavour profile and health benefits.
Traditional iced tea is made by steeping tea leaves in hot water first. Once the tea is brewed it is served over ice or chilled in the refrigerator and then served cold. With cold brew iced-teas you simply leave out the hot water part and steep leaves in cold water instead. The process requires a much longer brew and can be refrigerated overnight.
How to determine which is the best brewing method for you?
Well that all depends on what type of tea you want to brew and your tastebuds. I personally think a strong, bold and high flavoured tea achieves a well-balanced flavour profile when cold brewing. For example, teas from the Earl Grey family such as Extravagant Earl Grey and Green Earl Grey works very well for me. Mango Black Tea and Sweet Orange Tea make a delicious cold brew as well. Other considerations, a dark roasted Formosa Oolong, floral Jasmin Pearls and a refreshing Green Mint all comes to mind.
The result of a cold brew iced-teas is a sweet and smooth texture with a crisp and clean finish without the bitterness from the tannins. A cold brew tea won’t extract much body and depth but you will still enjoy the soft flavourful and aromatic notes. The cold brew method is hassle free because brewing is so simple. For 1 litre of water brew approximately 1 tablespoon of tea. If the leaves are light and large then you can increase the quantity of leaves.
The traditional way of making ice-tea is ideal if you are in a hurry and don’t mind the bitterness and astringency in your cup but to be honest this really depends on how you brew your tea. Too little tea leaves result in a bland and watery brew, too much a bitter aftertaste. A hot brew requires the correct amount of tea leaves and water ratio, timing the brew so not to over or under steep and brewing under recommended water temperature guidelines for black, green or herbal teas.
Why does cold brew taste different to a hot brew?
Research claims that this is down to chemical kinetics. Tea leaves contain flavour compounds that are heat sensitive. When hot water is poured over the leaves, energy from the heat makes water molecules move a lot faster allowing flavour extraction to be quick. When cold water is applied, the water molecules are moving at a much slower pace and extracting less number of compounds over the same period of time. That’s why a longer period of time is needed for flavour extraction. Furthermore, it is interesting to note that compounds such as polyphenols which gives tea its astringency and bitterness from caffeine, is only extracted in fragments in a cold brew. For this reason, cold brew iced-teas can offer a smoother and more aromatic finish because it is not masked by the dry and bitterness of the tea compounds.
Are there any differences between Cold brew and Hot brewed iced-teas in health benefits?
It appears there is not much difference in health benefits although some may argue that you extract more antioxidants from a cold brew. I do prefer to cold brew black, green and white iced-teas but opt for hot brew when infusing herbal teas. This is because some herbs have their medicinal compounds buried deep within their structure which require a full goodness extraction using hot water. I also like the idea that hot water cleans out any bacteria from old herbs that have been sitting around for a while. But if you prefer to cold brew, then I recommend herbal teas which contain flower and leaves such as chamomile, rose, lemon verbena, peppermint etc. My favourite infusion for the summer is Toxin Killer, offering a smooth and clean texture followed by floral and earthy notes balanced beautifully together.
To get the best ice-tea recipes that contain both methods of brewing please read our blog “Guide For Best Summer Iced Drinks”