ICED TEA VS COLD BREW TEA

Ever heard the term cold brew tea and assumed it was the same as iced tea? You’re not alone – most people don’t differentiate between the two. While both are tea and both are consumed cold, that’s just about all they have in common.

If you’re a tea enthusiast, we know you’d be keen to deep dive into the world of cold teas and understand the major differences between the two variants of tea in question. If the only cup of tea you’d have is a piping hot one, don’t look away as yet. Continue reading so that you don’t miss out on new iced tea flavour profiles which you can unlock by these very different methods of brewing.

First things first, let’s differentiate between the two.

Method of preparation: 

Traditional iced tea is prepared by brewing loose leaf tea or tea bags in hot water for a specific duration, depending on the nature of tea being brewed. Upon brewing, the tea leaves are strained, and the hot tea is chilled in the refrigerator before being served over ice. Likes normal hot tea, brewing / steeping time and temperature are crucial in achieving that perfect brew and can always be adjusted to your taste. 

Cold brew tea, on the other hand, is rather simple to make. No heat, no obsessive monitoring of temperature or timing and no need of fancy equipment. Just a jar, a strainer and your tea leaves / tea bags would suffice.

Throw in 1 tablespoon of tea for every 1 cup of cold water, cover and refrigerate overnight, or for 6-8 hours. And Voila! Wake up to the most delicious and flavoursome cup of iced tea you would have ever had.

Tea Potions - Ice Tea Flavours

A couple of things to keep in mind:

  • Loose leaves work best. Experiment with the flavour and intensity of your cold brew by moderating the quantity of the tea leaves. Higher quality tea leaves are intense enough to be reinfused. The second cold brew will be lighter in flavour but just as delectable.

  • Use filtered cold water. You could also use running tap water if it’s neutral and clean tasting. Remember to avoid distilled water or softened water since this would make the cold brew taste flat – a certain mineral balance is required for a great tasting tea.

The cold brew method is effortless but requires patience and the tea is totally worth the wait!  

What happens during the brew? 

Hot brewing forcefully extracts all the flavours from the tea, cooking it and altering its the chemical composition. If steeping your tea doesn’t go to plan in terms of time and temperature, you may end up with a bland, watered down version of tea or even worse, a bitter brew that will require more sweetener to make it palatable. Yes, the heat does extract beneficial antioxidants from the tea, but it also releases many bitter tannins and gives rise to a more acidic brew. This is the reason behind commercially bottled hot brew iced teas being loaded with syrups, sugar and artificial flavours.  

Contrastingly, the cold brew method doesn’t strip the tea off its flavours, resulting in a more delicate, balanced, naturally sweet and refreshing iced tea flavour. The flavour extraction process is slow, gently releasing nutrients, antioxidants and flavours producing a less bitter, smoother tea with a more pronounced flavour profile. This is owing to the fact that cold water imparts a different balance to the steeping mechanism of the tea. Chemically speaking, cold brewing also implies fewer catechins, fewer tannins and less caffeine which evade the bitterness of tea. In simpler terms, cold brew tea is a lot easier to make and a whole lot more forgiving. 

Why cold brew tea?  

  • Easy to prepare and store

Cold brewing, as evident throughout this discussion, is a simpler alternative to the traditional hot brewing method. There’s no need to heat water, monitor the water temperature or keep track of steeping time. You can cold brew black tea or green tea and store it in the refrigerator even for a few days.

  • Healthier alternative

Cold brewing imparts fewer tannins to the tea compared to hot brewing. Tannins are polyphenol antioxidant compounds that impart an astringent taste to the tea. Studies show that tannins can inhibit the iron absorption from foods, especially iron that comes from vegetables, grains and nonheme iron.

  • Less sugar needed

Cold brewing brings out a naturally sweet tea, eliminating the need for adding sugar. For those who like it sweeter, a swirl of honey or a dash of agave syrup is just about enough.

  • Smoother

Fewer tannins also result in a smooth tea that has almost neglibigle astringencies, making every sip of cold brew iced tea delicious one.

  • Flavoursome

The highlight of cold brew is the plethora of iced tea flavours that it results in. From mild to strong, fruity to flowery, green to black (to blue and red even), a multitude of options is available for you to choose from.  

Yes, traditional iced tea is a faster and more efficient way to make tea if you’re in a hurry. However, at TeaPotions, we believe that the best things in life come to those who wait. Our handcrafted, organic black tea and green tea blends take a lot of planning – both at our end to manufacture, and at your end to cold brew. But the taste and flavour that ensue are incomparable. Start steeping a cold brew tonight!

Got any questions about cold brewing? Tea Masters at TeaPotions are always ready to answer you. Speak to us today.

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