Iced tea – either made by cold brewing or ice brewing – isn’t just a healthy, refreshing drink for the hot, humid days of summer, but is also a brew that allows you to appreciate the flavors and textures of tea in a unique way.
That’s because when brewed in cooler temperatures (usually between 40 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit), the tannins and caffeine in the tea leaf are just minimally extracted, meaning cold tea tastes less bitter and astringent than tea brewed in hot water. Similarly, tea’s amino acids – namely theanine – are extracted more easily in cold water, resulting in a brew with a sweeter flavor and, for green teas, more pronounced umami notes.
There are different ways to make iced tea. The cold brewing technique is perhaps the most widely-known, but another method involves ice brewing the tea.
I fell in love with this brewing style when I discovered it during a tea sourcing trip to Japan and enjoy using it when entertaining friends and hosting tea tastings. Or, when I simply need to slow down and take a little time for myself.
You can ice brew tea in a variety of vessels. In Japan, the kyusu teapot is the most common. But, I personally enjoy using fancy glassware – such as a coupe or martini glass, for example – to elevate the visual component of the experience. The ice brewing method can take a while but it’s enjoyable to observe the beauty of the melting of the ice over the tea.
You can experiment with various types of tea, but I generally recommend using Japanese teas (such as sencha or genmaicha) for this method. (You won’t be able to enjoy the same effect with tightly rolled whole leaf teas.)
To ice brew a glass of of tea:
- Add 2.5 grams of tea to your preferred vessel. Place three medium-sized ice cubes on top. (Experiment with the tea:ice ratio to find what you like best.)
- Let ice melt completely. (This will take about 2 hours, more or less, depending on the temperature of the environment in which the tea is brewed.)
- Enjoy the unique flavors of your ice brew!
You can also use a coffee ice drip brewer such as this one. The top of the brewer is filled with ice or a combination of ice and cold water. A dripper mechanism allows you to adjust the rate of the dripping of the ice water into an infuser filled with tea where it extracts the flavor. This infused tea immediately runs down to the pitcher at the bottom of the drip brewer.
Depending on the infusion time, the tea may result in a different flavor from the “ice over tea” method explained above.
If you try ice brewing your tea, let us know how you like it, and don’t forget to tag us on social media at @gachitea. Cheers!