If you’re a tea lover, why not try cold-brewing your next pot of Japanese green tea? Cold brewing might sound complicated if you haven’t tried it before, but it’s actually a simple process that results in a uniquely sweet, smooth tea. Cold brewing also offers several unique health benefits that you won’t get if you brew your tea with hot water. Keep reading to learn about the process of cold brewing Japanese green tea.
What Makes Cold Brewing Different?
As the name implies, cold brewing means the tea is brewed with cold water instead of hot water. One of the main differences between cold and hot brewing is that cold brewing takes quite a bit longer. While a cup of hot tea is ready to drink within five minutes, cold-brewed tea must steep for at several hours. While this long brewing time can be annoying if you want to drink your tea right away, you can get around the wait by making a large pot of cold-brewed tea before you go to bed and letting it steep overnight. Then, you’ll be able to sip on the finished product throughout the next day.
Even though it takes longer to make cold-brewed tea, it’s worth the wait. Tea brewed without any heat tastes different from traditional hot tea – it’s sweeter, smoother, and doesn’t have any of the bitter notes that you can sometimes taste in a cup of hot tea. This is because cold water doesn’t extract tannins
, the chemical responsible for that astringent
taste, from the tea leaves. (Read more about tannin and green tea in my other article
) If you like to add sugar to your tea, you might be pleasantly surprised to find that cold-brewed tea is already sweet enough on its own.
Cold-brewed Japanese green tea also offers a couple of distinct health benefits. First, it contains less caffeine
than tea brewed with hot water, which is good news if you’re trying to avoid the jitters. Coldwater doesn’t extract much caffeine
from the leaves, so you can go ahead and drink a cup of cold-brewed green tea before bed because it won’t keep you awake. (Read more about caffeine and green tea in my other article
Second, cold brewed green tea contains more antioxidants than hot tea. According to a video posted by Dr. Michael Greger at NutritionFacts.org, a team of Italian researchers discovered
that hot water destroys some of the catechins
– the chemicals with antioxidant properties – in tea leaves. Conversely, cold water extracts those catechins
without harming them. While any type of green tea is good for you, you’ll get more of its disease-fighting and anti-aging properties
by choosing the cold-brewed variety. (Read more about anti-aging and green tea in my other article
Cold Brewing Method 1: Using Cool Water
This method of cold brewing is called mizudashi (水だし), and it takes a while to steep - a minimum of three hours is recommended. However, the advantage of this method is that it works well for any grade of green tea. In fact, even cheaper green teas usually taste excellent when they’re brewed with cool water.
To make tea with this method, use a ratio of one to two tablespoons of tea leaves per quart of water. For a quick and convenient alternative, you can also use regular green tea
bags. Place the tea leaves in the bottom of a large container or kyusu. (A kyūsu (急須) is a traditional Japanese teapot mainly used for brewing green tea.)
Then add the water, cover the container, and place it in the refrigerator to steep. When you're ready, give the finished pot a gentle swirl or a stir before you drink it, since the stronger-flavored sediment may settle at the bottom during brewing.
My favorite way is to use a tea filter bag and loose-leaf green tea
. Usually higher grade green tea is available in loose-leaf form and not teabag form. Here is a link to an Amazon to get one of these tea filter bags.
You can simply put green tea in the disposable tea filter bag and close the lid on the filter
Put it in one litre jar (1L)
Add water (filtered water is recommended)
Let it sit in the refrigerator for 3-24 hours
After letting it sit for 3-24 hours, stir well before drinking
To get the most out of your tea leaves, you should let the tea sit in the refrigerator for at least three hours. However, you can let it steep for up to twenty-four hours for a stronger brew if you want. Unlike hot tea, cold-brewed tea won’t get bitter the longer you steep it. Therefore, many people like to let their tea steep overnight with this method so they can drink it in the morning. However, if you keep it for more than 1 or 2 days, it gets too bitter and the water starts to be brown in color; therefore, it is best to take out the tea bag after 24 hours if you intend to keep it for longer than 2 days.
Cold Brewing Method 2: Using Ice
This is another simple way to make cold-brewed tea. The advantage of this method is that it produces a tea with a very light, delicate taste. This steeping method works best for high-quality teas
that are naturally flavorful, so you may want to use a good loose-leaf tea instead of a regular tea bag.
To make cold brewed green tea with ice, place one to two tablespoons of loose tea leaves in your pot or kyusu. Then, fill the pot the rest of the way with ice and let it sit undisturbed. When the ice has melted, your tea will be ready to drink. If you aren't using a kyusu, strain the leaves through a mesh sieve or cheesecloth before you serve the tea.
Here is an Instagram video of my good friend Danielle from Tea & Me Blog
doing this cold-brewing using our Gokuzyo Aracha Sencha Tea
Cold Brewing Method 3: Cooling Hot Tea
Cold brewing can be a lengthy process. But, if you're impatient to drink your tea, you can just brew a quick cup of hot green tea and then cool it with ice. This method works equally well with loose-leaf tea and tea bags. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that the ice will water down the tea, so, you may want to make your tea stronger than you normally would. Try doubling the number of tea leaves you use or using two tea bags instead of one.
Simple Japanese Green Tea Soda (炭酸割り)
Rather than steeping the entire hot tea, follow the step below to make refreshing Japanese green tea cold soda.
- Pour hot water over loose-leaf green tea with 1/4 amount of hot water you would use in method 3 above. (Just enough to cover the leaf is good enough)
- Wait for 1-3 min. At this point, you have very thick green tea since you used very little hot water in step 1 above.
- Now pour club soda or carbonated water of your chose over the tea prepared in step 1 and 2. (My personal favorite is Perrier or their lime version goes surprisingly well with sencha green tea)
- Filter out and add ice. If you wish, add sweeter of your choice (honey, sugar, etc). Please check this article about 10 ways to sweeten Japanese green tea
This simple step makes you a very healthy green tea soda. Pretty cool, isn't it? You can do the same trick with matcha too. Click here for matcha version (little different but the concept is the same)