How To

What’s Brewing?

Three Glasses of Classic Ice Tea on a Tray with Spoon

Maria Uspenski uncovers the secret behind a perfectly brewed glass of cold tea.

Text by Agnes Chan


1) How do you make cold brewed tea?
Tea is very a pure and simple thing really, just water and tea leaves, but steeping hot tea is an involved process. The temperature of the water, steeping time, and proportion of tea leaves to water are all important variables. If any one of these factors is dealt with improperly, it can severely alter the quality of the finished product. Cold brewing tea takes two of these three variables out of the process. The only variable you need to be precise with in cold brewing is the proportion of leaves to water. To cold brew any tea, you just add tea leaves to water and wait. You can leave your cold brews to steep for several hours, or overnight. Some green and white teas are ready to drink after cold brewing for just 10 minutes, but they won’t turn bitter if you leave them to cold brew longer.

2) How do cold brewed tea and hot brewed tea differ in taste?
Cold brewed tea does in fact infuse differently than hot brewed tea. When you’re dousing tea leaves with boiling water, you’re both extracting and cooking the tea leaf. Hot brewing extracts some components of the leaf much faster, and the resulting beverage has the soluble components of the tea in different proportions than a hot brew. If you compare the flavour of a cold brew and a hot brewed tea, many will feel the cold brew tastes smoother, as the tannins are less pronounced in a cold brew.

3) What are the health benefits of cold brewed tea?
Compared to bottled teas and bottled tea concentrates, cold brewed teas offer selectively lower sugar content, no preservatives and two to 50 times more antioxidants according to the study by Shiming Li et al. Compared to hot brewed teas, cold brewed teas offer equal antioxidants for green and black teas and higher antioxidants for white teas according to a study by Elisabetta Venditti et al.

4) What is the tea-to-water ideal ratio?
I use about the same amount of tea leaves as for a hot brew, or about 6 grams of leaves for a 500ml serving of cold brew tea.

5) What are the best teas to cold brew?
Green and white teas cold brew most beautifully, I especially love Sencha, Gyokuro and Bai Mu Dan cold brewed, maybe because It’s easy to oversteep the nice green teas, and I appreciate the smoother flavour of the cold brew. It’s also nice to take your tea with you, and with a cold brew, you can just keep the leaves in a cold brew bottle or tumbler and keep re- steeping them.

 6) How long can cold brewed tea be left out for before drinking?
We recommend drinking your cold brewed tea within six hours, if you’re making it on the go. But if you keep it in the fridge, it’s fine to consume within 72 hours, after which point it’s been shown to lose some of its freshness and health benefits. If you steep your cold brew teas overnight, then drink them in the following two days.

7) What is your favorite cold brewed tea recipe?
I love to cold brew a First Flush Darjeeling in cold sparkling wine. My other favourites include adding a sprig of lavender or rosemary to my Sencha cold brew, or add a twist of lemon rind to my cold brewed white teas.

maria uspenskiMaria Uspenski
Founder of The Tea Spot
An MIT mechanical engineer and cancer survivor, Uspenski founded Colorado-based The Tea Spot in 2004 with the goal to spread the message that tea consumed in its freshest form offers the most health benefits. Ten per cent of The Tea Spot’s sales are donated in-kind to cancer and community wellness programmes.

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