In Japan it’s common to drink cold-brewed tea infusions. Especially during hot summers. Visit a Japanese supermarkets and you’ll find a huge variety of cold-brewed tea or iced tea available, with hundreds of different brands and varieties on the shelves.
The popularity of these drinks are on the rise. You might have already seen them in your local supermarket – even if you aren’t living in Japan.
Unfortunately, most of the commercialised cold-brewed teas contain plenty of sugar. However, there is an alternative – the home-made option!
There are many reasons why it’s better to prepare a cold-brewed ice tea at home. It’s healthier. Plus recipes (like the one on this page) are easy to follow. Also you’ll save yourself a trip to the supermarket.
On this page you’ll discover everything you need to know for making iced tea. You’ll also see where you need to pay special attention to make sure your cold brew tea is healthy.
What is cold brew tea?
The cold brew tea concept is very simple: tea that’s soaked in cold water. The process takes several hours, so that the flavour can be slowly extracted.
This brewing method results in less caffeine, and gives a milder flavour. Perhaps comparable to a refreshing soda drink. This makes it ideal for during the day (less caffeine means less chance of you staying awake at bedtime), and serves as a perfect summertime beverage.
Making cold brew tea at home is super easy. It doesn’t require an exact water temperature compared to traditional brewed hot tea. Also the infusion of flavours in cold brew tea or iced tea is a slow-cooking process. The leaves are soaked in water for several hours, you just have to sit back and wait (and taste a few times too).
How to make cold brew tea?
This is what you need for making cold brew tea at home:
- Mineral water: At room temperature. Around 1 litre of water for every 5–10g loose tea
- Tea leaves (or tea bags): Loose green tea, black tea, herbal tea or even tea bags can be used
- Sweetener (optional): Honey, maple syrup or some chopped fruit is also an excellent choice if you are looking for a healthier option
- Ice-cubes (optional): Fresh, for a better flavour
- Finishing touch: Try a slice of lemon, pieces of ginger, mint, fresh lime
- A large container, jar or bottle
Simply put all the ingredients in a jar and store this in the fridge for 4-6 hours.
Taste after the first 2 hours to see if the flavour matches your preference. Then continue tasting often, and as soon as it tastes perfect, take out the container and remove the tea with a strainer.
Consider adding a couple of fresh ice cubes to make it extra refreshing.
Benefits of cold brew tea
There are many reasons to make cold brew tea at home with this recipe:
- You can reduce the caffeine intake for your tea
- The taste is less bitter compared to hot brewed tea
- You can make a lot of cold brew tea at home, giving you a refreshing supply that lasts several days.
- You save money when making cold brew tea at home
- You can choose your favourite tea leaves at home
- It’s healthier, with you controlling sugar levels or deciding to use sugar alternatives
Best tea for iced tea
Any tea can be used to brew cold tea. However, some teas are more suitable for a cold brew than others. Below we list a few of the most famous teas that can be used to brew cold tea at home.
Unfortunately, not all tea brands perform as good for cold brewing. So if your home-brewed ice tea tastes rather dull, you know it’s time to switch to another tea brand. With that in mind, let’s have a look at what are the best teas for cold brewing…
Cold brew green tea
Green teas are the most popular choice for cold brew teas. They’re proven to help you with weight loss, and they easily extract the flavours during the brewing process.
Good quality green tea also has a mild, rich flavour, which makes it ideal for cold brew tea.
Cold brew matcha tea
Matcha tea is harvested from green tea leaves and then made into a powdered substance. This careful process is what sets matcha’s quality above alternatives such as green tea.
For cold brew matcha tea, here are two options:
- Use a 50% green tea and 50% cold brew matcha tea
Enriching your cold brew green tea with a scoop of matcha adds a sweet and soft umami flavour to the iced tea.
- Use a 100% cold brew matcha tea
Add a scoop of matcha powder to some cold water. Here the teas won’t need to soak, because matcha comes in powdered form. We recommend using a good quality ceremonial matcha.
Cold brew black tea
If you’re looking for a classic Ice-tea drink, black tea is the way to go! Black teas are stronger in flavour, contain more caffeine and are used in most commercialised ice-teas (such as Lipton Ice Tea).
Just watch out for the higher levels of caffeine in black tea. You might find you can’t sleep if you drink a cold-brew black tea in the evening or even in the afternoon.
Cold brew herbal tea
Cold brew herbal tea is a great choice if you are looking for an alternative cold brew tea without caffeine.
Chamomile, ginger, peppermint and rooibos teas are all excellent choices for cold brew herbal tea. In fact, you can simply select any herbal tea you prefer, it’s that simple!
Iced tea with tea bags
Got no loose tea at home? That’s no problem. Tea bags can be used to make iced tea at home if you’re in a hurry. Although in general, loose tea performs much better than tea bags, because it contains more flavour and is usually of a higher quality.
Let’s have a look at some tips for making iced tea with tea bags at home:
How long to brew cold brew tea
It’s recommended to wait at least 4–6 hours to brew tea and completely extract the flavours. You can also soak the leaves longer in the water or let them wait overnight. It all depends on your personal preference.
If stored in the fridge in an airtight tin, your cold brew tea will last a solid 3 days without losing its flavour.
Ratio of tea leaves for cold brew
There’s no straightforward answer to how much tea to use. It all depends on your taste preferences, how strong the tea is, and the brewing time.
A rule-of-thumb is around 5–10g loose tea per 1 litre of water, assuming you’re brewing for 4–6 hours. After the first couple of hours, taste it and see if you need to add tea or water.
Healthy cold brew tea
Great news – there are lots of ways to make your iced tea super healthy!
Low-calorie ice tea
Cold brew tea from the supermarket often contains plenty of sugar. Make cold tea at home, and you can replace the sugar with a healthy alternative.
According to many nutritional experts, stevia is the healthiest sweetener to use. It’s reportedly 100–300X sweeter than sugar, but has no carbohydrates, calories or artificial ingredients. Other healthy sugar substitutes include xylitol, erythritol, and yacon syrup.
Cold tea with a fruitfull approach
Are you looking for some variations to the traditional cold brewed tea? Adding pieces of chopped fruit provide excellent variation to the traditional cold brewed iced tea.
Simply add few pieces of strawberry, mango, blueberry. Perhaps a slice of orange, lemon or grapefruit. These all work well when mixed into your cold tea brew blend.
Use these natural sugars, and you’ve an excellent way to increase your cold brewed tea’s sweetness level. All without using any regular sugar.
- a large container, jar or a bottle
- 1 l mineral water at room temperature
- 10 g tea leaves (or tea bags)
- 1 tsp honey, maple syrup or some chopped fruit
- ice-cubes (optional)
- slice of lemon, pieces of ginger, mint or fresh lime (optional)
- Add tea to a large bottle
- Optionally add sweetener and slice of lemon, pieces of ginger, mint or fresh lime
- Pour water on top, close the jar and store in the fridge between 4-6 hours
- Taste your tea once after the first 2 hours, and then a few times over the next 4 hours. Decide if you need to add more tea or water to change its flavour
- Optionally serve with somefresh ice cubes